Inspiring Teachers: Jerry Brunetti and Teachers for Tomorrow

Jerry BrunettiThis story was originally published in the 2010 Annual Report.

Jerry Brunetti understands the problems faced by today’s teachers. “I know how long it takes a teacher to fully develop,” says Brunetti, the interim dean of the Kalmanovitz School of Education (KSOE). “It’s a job in which you are constantly growing; it’s never the same.” So he knows how important it is that Saint Mary’s teacher education programs adapt to help students meet these new demands.

The biggest hurdle is preparing teacher candidates to become proficient and meet state requirements in a short time span, he says. “New teachers are now thrust into these challenging situations where they’re faced with inadequate facilities, resources and support, and are expected to immediately help these schools meet standards coming from No Child Left Behind.” Another is the fact that “our teacher candidates are often juggling a full course load, as well as jobs and families.”

To meet the growing demand for well-trained teachers, in 1999 Brunetti and Carole Swain, now SMC’s vice president for mission, founded the Teachers for Tomorrow program — a five-year course of study designed for first-year college students who know they want to be elementary school teachers. Brunetti, who began his career teaching high school English in 1963, has studied his profession intensely. He has conducted research on long-term teacher job satisfaction and worked to change California public school policy and chaired interest groups studying the lives of teachers. In 2001, he was named SMC’s Professor of the Year.

During the 2009–10 academic year, 158 KSOE students completed credential programs, 133 students earned master’s degrees and eight students received doctorates in Education Leadership. Throughout their undergraduate years, students get hands-on experiences in schools, and they take credential courses as seniors. Most of the students complete their credential as well as a master’s degree in their fifth year.

“What I’ve learned,” says Brunetti, is that despite its challenges, “teaching is a profession that inspires and has tremendous satisfactions.”