by Cris Guenter
1972, more than 60 Irish teachers from St. Patrick’s College of
Education, now a part of Dublin City University, have come to CSU,
Chico to earn their master’s degrees in a year’s time. More than
140 student teachers from the Department of Education at CSU, Chico
have gone overseas to teach in the schools of Dublin and complete
their student teaching credentials.
It all began in the summer of 1972, when Professor John Killeen
and his wife, Angela, arrived in Chico from Howth, Ireland. He was
part of a first-time exchange with the CSU, Chico English department.
He traded homes and teaching responsibilities with Professor Edgar
Glenn (now a professor emeritus). “My official salary for the year
was one dollar!” says Killeen (in photo above at St. Patrick's College
with Cris Guenter).
During that time, Killeen met with Robert Fredenburg, associate
vice president for academic affairs at the time. Fredenburg told
Killeen about his ambition to have an exchange of students between
the two colleges. When Killeen returned to Dublin later that year,
he secured permission from the president of St. Patrick’s College
and from the Irish Government Department of Education for the exchange.
Over the three decades, Killeen has maintained his supervision
of the programs. Among the many Chico families that have offered
support, the Irish alums repeatedly noted the Lindseys, Overholts,
Richmonds, Gladdens, Scotts, Marshalls, and Diamonds.
This spring several former Irish graduate students now teaching
all over Ireland will join CSU, Chico Honors students in online
discussions about Ireland. Following are the reminiscences of some
of the students who have participated in the Ireland Exchange.
For Finbarr “Barry” Sloan, who came to Chico in 1979, the exchange
was a chance to study in a different country, interact with a more
diverse group of students, and take a course of study that was decidedly
less prescribed than his program at St. Patrick’s.
“School was interesting for the Irish students as we had considerable
leeway to generate for ourselves a course of study,” says Sloan.
“For me, the intellectual environment was quite interesting. But
the best part was the time that faculty was willing to give the
interested and self-motivated student.”
Sloan says they were treated as though they were part of the faculty,
but the CSU, Chico faculty also provided much guidance and steered
them in unanticipated directions. “In fact, they helped frame, in
a hands-off manner, the course of study and the intellectual course
of my career,” notes Sloan. “Much of this was done outside the classroom
and will never be seen on an academic transcript.”
Although Sloan spent only nine months in Chico, he says it was
a major turning point in his intellectual life, personal life, and
career. “At Chico I was able to take a lot of statistics courses
(pure and applied) and to begin to combine my interests in mathematics,
mathematics education, schooling, sociology, and behavioral methodology,”
he says. His only regret is finishing the course of study as quickly
as possible—and missing out on more of the Chico experience. Sloan
returned to Ireland to teach first grade in St. Patrick’s laboratory
school, then came back to the United States to attend graduate school
at the University of Chicago and become vice principal of the University
of Chicago Laboratory Schools and eventually a mathematics education
professor at the University of Illinois.
Eamonn Kelly stayed in Chico longer than the usual two semesters.
“I came on the exchange program to Chico for further education,
in order to experience California, and because John Killeen, then
at the English Department at St. Patrick’s College, assured me that
I would meet the most beautiful women in the world,” recalls Kelly.
“So I did, and married one, Rebecca Vaughan. I spent five years
completing my one-year exchange program. This was [coordinator of
academic publications] Jim Jessee’s fault. He told me to ‘pick up
the catalog and get an education!’ ”
Kelly graduated with three master’s degrees: one in psychology,
one in education, and a special major in psychotherapy and rhetoric.
He then took a doctorate at Stanford (198488) and worked 12 years
at Rutgers University in New Jersey. He is now coordinator of Rutgers’
instructional technology program and serves as a full professor
in the Graduate School of Education.
While at CSU, Chico, Kelly and Sloan became friends, and now live
only eight miles apart in Virginia. In fact, Sloan now fills the
position of program officer at the National Science Foundation in
Arlington, Virginia, a post Kelly held for three years before moving
on to work at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia.
A fresh perspective
Rhona Larney and Aisling Leavy came to Chico from St. Patrick’s
in 1996. “For me, the most memorable and insightful part of the
program was the ‘Independent Study’ component with Dr. Guenter,
which involved a series of visits and presentations to elementary
(K12) schools all over Northern California,” says Larney. “I still
draw on this experience in my ongoing work with schools today. I
will always look back on my experience in Chico as life-changing.
It gave me a fresh perspective on educational issues in general,
and on multicultural issues in particular.”
Since leaving Chico, Larney spent two years teaching at St. Patrick’s
laboratory school in Dublin. She then returned to college to complete
an advanced degree in educational psychology at the University of
Strathclyde in Scotland. She is now an educational psychologist
in West Dunbartonshire Local Education Authority, just outside Glasgow,
For Leavy, now a mathematics education professor at the University
of Limerick, the exchange program provided the opportunity to study
specific areas in which she was interested. “Chico State, more than
any other experience, has served to enrich both my personal and
academic life,” she notes. “I met wonderful faculty members in the
education (Dr. Cris Guenter, Dr. Jim Overholt) and psychology departments
(Dr. Joe Scott) who did all the groundwork in getting me accepted
to Arizona State University to carry out my doctoral studies. On
a personal level, I met my partner/husband at Chico State.”
Into the future
This academic year, Catriona Nolan and Niamh Kelly, graduate students
from St. Patrick’s College, are at CSU, Chico completing their master’s
of arts degrees in education. CSU, Chico students Anna Lometti and
Katie Bozzo are completing their student teaching experiences in
Howth and Port Marnock, Ireland, respectively.
CSU, Chico student teacher Kellie Edwards completed her requirements
for her teaching credential and returned from the Ireland Exchange
in December 2001. She says that teaching in a two-teacher school
was an amazing experience in Irish culture.
“They still do a lot of work out of the book and less hands-on/creative
learning,” notes Edwards. “The majority of the schools in Ireland
are Catholic, where the students wear uniforms and are often separated
into boys’ and girls’ schools. I taught at a Church of Ireland (Protestant)
school where uniforms are not worn and the classrooms are coed.”
Edwards says her teaching experience in Ireland taught her a lot
about what she wants and doesn’t want in her own classroom. “The
multigrade teaching taught me how to be very flexible and ready
to make adjustments in my lessons,” she says. “The lack of resource
materials in Ireland helped me to become more creative in substituting
things needed for a lesson with what I had or what I could find.”
Students currently accepted into the multiple or single subject
credential programs in the Department of Education can apply for
the Ireland Exchange. Further information can be found online at
St. Patrick’s College can be found at www.spd.dcu.ie.
About the author
Cris Guenter, professor
of arts education/ curriculum and instruction, was named CSU, Chico
Outstanding Teacher for 19992000 and 2001 Outstanding Visual Arts
Educator for California. Guenter has been the coordinator of the
Ireland Exchange Program since 1991.
Other CSU, Chico Irish Alums
(19901991) went on to earn her doctorate in testing and evaluation
and now works at Boston College.
Therese Gamble and
Mairead Power (19921993) are both teachers in DublinGamble
at Stanhope Street National School and Power at North Dublin National
Project School. In fall 2000, they completed a week-long, 100 km
trek across the Sahara Desert to raise more than $4,500 for the
homeless people in Dublin.
(19931994) went on to teach in Irish primary and then moved
to the United Arab Emirates to teach school there through fall 2001.
Spring 2002 will find her backpacking through Australia.
(19931994) went on to teach in Irish primary schools and earn
a second masters degree in Irish literature. She will be moving
to Spain in 2002 to teach English courses.
(19981999) taught for two years in Scoil Mhuire, Girls National
before heading to Calcutta to work with the Missionaries Charity,
Mother Theresa's order. She says her interest in this sort of work
stems from her involvement with the people and programs at the CSU,
Chico Newman Center.