Longtime electrical engineering Professor Alan Felzer, who died in 2009, believed that students should solve hands-on problems in order to understand concepts thoroughly. It¿s an approach he used in his classes during his nearly 40-year tenure at Cal Poly Pomona and also when tutoring his daughter in middle school math.
To honor his legacy, Felzer¿s family has donated $200,000 to benefit a scholarship fund for future teachers in math and science, as well as a scholarship fund for Kellogg Honors College students.
¿My husband Alan had a passion for education. He was very dedicated and developed excellent methods for his own students to learn the material,¿ says his widow, Laura Felzer. ¿We wanted to help teachers and further my husband¿s legacy. We want to make sure there are good teachers in schools so the kids have a good foundation.¿
At a scholarship dinner hosted by Partners in Education (PIE) on Feb. 22, four credential students received the $5,000 Alan Felzer PIE scholarship. Over the next year, they will teach at junior high or high schools in the area. Because they draw no income for their student teaching yet continue to pay tuition fees, many also squeeze in a full-time job in the evenings to offset living expenses. An additional 16 Felzer scholarships will be awarded over the next four years.
Laura, who taught in Los Angeles Unified School District for 32 years, understands firsthand the challenges that teachers face, especially those new to the profession. She taught special education students for 27 years and then worked as a literacy coach at the elementary level. She encourages aspiring teachers to get as much hands-on experience as possible, whether they volunteer, observe or assist.
¿When you learn to teach, you have to get into the classroom and get hands-on experience with students,¿ Laura says. ¿You can¿t just sit in a room and have a teacher lecture you on how to teach.¿
Laura says she was motivated to give by a PBS documentary on UCLA students trying to make ends meet and living in their cars, as well as an article in PolyTrends magazine about Cal Poly Pomona alumnus and former lecturer Doug Ramsey, who donated $1 million to the College of Business Administration. Laura felt that student scholarships were a fitting way to honor Alan, who often told stories about his students juggling a full load of classes and two jobs.
¿I wanted to help students who couldn¿t afford it, who needed the help,¿ she says. ¿My husband¿s dad, Grandpa Bill, also struggled with school and work at Berkeley. In a way, it¿s his dad¿s legacy too.¿
A passionate supporter of education, Laura believes that learning is a lifelong endeavor. Recently, she has been researching the causes of food allergies and the effects of the environment ¿ food, water, air, plastics, and personal care products ¿ on children. As a grandmother to four- and six-year-old grandsons, they are topics close to her heart.
(Top photo: Alan and Laura Felzer. Bottom photo: Laura Felzer, center, with scholarship recipients Sonia D’Souza, Farahnaz Sedaghat, Rebecca Hill and Shubo Wu.)
Cal Poly Pomona has embarked on a $150 million comprehensive fundraising campaign to ensure that a quality college education is within reach for future generations of students. The campaign will strengthen the university’s ability to provide a hands-on education, to prepare students for the changing demands of the workplace, and to increase research and scholarship opportunities. The fundraising campaign relies on the support of the entire campus community — from alumni to faculty and staff to friends of the university. For more information, visit http://campaign.cpp.edu/.