Kalmanovitz School of Education Celebrates 50th Anniversary

The Kalmanovitz School of Education (KSOE) at Saint Mary's "has served as a pillar of strength in the Bay Area in terms of stability and rigor and relevance for 50 years," said Kathy Perez, a professor of education at SMC since 1985. So the school’s half-century anniversary this year is a milestone with repercussions well beyond the Moraga hills.

Today, KSOE is synonymous not only with an emphasis on social justice through education, but also with strong partnerships with nearly 100 schools and organizations in Northern California and beyond. By contrast, when the College’s brand-new Department of Education was launched in 1967 (it was recast as the School of Education in 1986 and KSOE in 2006), it offered only a single teacher accreditation program, and the first enrollees in that pre-coed era were “male, mostly Caucasian” Christian Brothers, Perez said.  

Over time, “our student population has become much more diverse and our curricula now emphasizes preparing counselors, leaders, and teachers to respond to a wide range of community needs, especially the impacts of poverty,” said Perez, who in 2004 founded KSOE’s Teaching Leadership master’s program. The first of its kind in California, and now a national model, the program empowers teachers to become agents for change in their classrooms and communities.

Simultaneously, KSOE has maintained a brisk pace of expansion, growing to encompass not only multiple teaching programs, but also departments in counseling (a 1978 addition) and leadership (2015). Offerings under the KSOE umbrella today include undergraduate studies and numerous post-BA credentials and certificates, as well as 15 master’s degrees and an EdD in educational leadership.

"Many of our graduates have gone on to become a Teacher of the Year," Perez said.

As for the next 50 years, Perez noted, KSOE’s plans include building on its strong reputation for environmental literacy, urban education, and community-based research, and expanding its international reach. KSOE, she said, “is setting its sights on becoming a global force, evolving and reaching out beyond our boundaries in California.”