This year, the College of Education and Integrative Studies said goodbye to three faculty members and one staff member. The retirees include Professor Anthony Avina, Professor Dennis Jacobsen, Olufunke Oluyemi and lecturer Nick Salerno.
Avina began his service at Cal Poly Pomona in 2002. He taught within the Administrative Services Credential Program in the Department of Educational Leadership. He previously served, since 1960, as a middle and high school teacher, assistant principal, high school principal and district administrator. He served as a district superintendent in San Luis Obispo (Atascadero) and continued for sixteen years before serving as superintendent in Santa Cruz County (Pajaro Valley) for five years and Los Angeles County (Whittier Union) for another five years.
Throughout that time, he served as the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) chair fromn 1970 to 2015, which included chairing teams in Thailand, Malaysia, Philippines and twice in Beijing. He supported legislation at the state level to secure new funding for teachers and increased revenues and textbooks for high school districts. On the federal level, he worked with his school board in Pajaro Valley on funding for flood control and he worked with his school district in Whittier on securing funding for repairing and improving facilities after the Northridge earthquake.
During his time at CPP, he served on various committees including Academic Senate, the Budget Committee and search committees. He was successful in securing approval from the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing for the Tier I and II administrative programs and several program reviews from the Committee on Accreditation (COA).
“Dr. Avina brought an immense, caring spirit to each of his classes,” said Professor Betty Alford, chair of the Department of Educational Leadership. “Students recognized his enormous accomplishments as a district superintendent and leader of the Educational Leadership Administrative Service Credential Program. He cared immensely about student success and worked tirelessly on students’ behalf. He will be missed greatly, but his legacy will continue to inspire future administrators for years to come. We wish him the greatest joy in retirement.”
Jacobsen taught courses in the Educational Leadership Doctoral Program. He previously taught elementary school in Illinois, English as a Second Language in France, and high school and community college in Oregon. He has co-authored one book as well as published book chapters and journal articles on language acquisition and English learners. He founded the International Journal of Teacher Leadership and served several years as the senior editor of the journal. His research interests included school leadership, teacher leadership, school improvement, language acquisition and English learners.
“Our special thanks are extended to Dr. Jacobsen for his work in supporting doctoral students “to the finish line” on their dissertation as he served as dissertation chair,” said Alford. “Dr. Jacobsen was always insightful and “went the second mile” to support his doctoral students in finishing their dissertations. We appreciate his steadfast support immensely and wish him the best in his retirement. He will be missed.”
Oluyemi served as one of the clinical practice placement coordinators in the Department of Education. Her role included working with over 40 school districts across Los Angeles, San Bernardino and Riverside counties to provide clinical field experience for teacher candidates in the credential program.
Prior to joining CEIS, she worked as an administrative support coordinator in the University Library and as assistant to the director of academic programs and services and building marshal for nearly 20 years. She earned her master’s degree in public administration and her bachelor’s degree in sociology from CPP.
Oluyemi has been described by her colleague, Paulina Lopez, as dedicated, hard-working and kindhearted.
“It was such a pleasure to have worked with Ms. Olufunke Oluyemi for the past few years at the College of Education and Integrative Studies,” said Lopez. “She was dedicated and committed to student success. Ms. Oluyemi was involved in many areas of the campus for over 20 years including helping with commencement ceremonies, serving as an advisor to the campus library and organizing clinical practice workshops for future credential students. These were just a few examples of her promise to student success and personal achievement. She will be missed and not forgotten for her contribution to the CPP campus and community she served.”
Salerno taught courses in the Administrative Services Credential Program. He was full-time for six years and taught as an adjunct for nearly ten years. He also managed the teacher intern program in CEIS.
Prior to joining CPP, Salerno was superintendent of the El Monte Union High School District, which was recognized by The College Board as the mid-size National Advanced Placement District of the Year during his tenure from 2009-2014.
Before becoming a superintendent, he was a teacher, coach, counselor, principal and district administrator. Under his leadership as principal of El Monte High School, the school received National Blue Ribbon and California Distinguished School awards as well as the H.B. McDaniel Award for outstanding counseling program from Stanford University.
Salerno has won numerous awards including the Milken Educator Award and CPP’s Alumni of the Year Award. He is currently on the Partners in Education (PIE) board of directors, which is a coalition of academic and community leaders dedicated to advocating for quality education and educational development at CPP and surrounding communities.
“The department is very happy for Nick as he moves to his next phase in life, but we are certainly sad to see him go,” said Professor Jann Pataray-Ching, chair of the Department of Education. “What is so special about Nick is that he has always gone the extra mile for students, putting them first before anything else. For several years he coordinated and moderated our annual HR panels for teacher-credential candidates to help them prepare for interviewing for jobs. He also worked with Dr. Cheryl Love in the Career Center with the annual Education and Non-Profit Job Fair to connect our teacher-credential candidates with potential employers in the field. He was also instrumental in coordinating the California Teacher Summit, which was held on the Cal Poly campus. Every year, the department gives out the Unsung Hero award, and he is usually on the list because he gives so much to the department beyond his job description. We wish him much joy and happiness as he enters into his next phase of life.”
Due to COVID-19, virtual celebrations were held in honor of these individuals for their dedicated service to the university and its students.