The Educators for Liberation, Justice, and Joy Program at Mills Embraces Antiracist Pedagogy to Transform Our Schools

Oakland, CA—June 11, 2021

A smiling teacher stands in a school hallway with a clipboard.On Monday, June 21 the Educators for Liberation, Justice, and Joy teacher credential program at Oakland’s Mills College welcomes its second cohort of student teachers. Run out of the College’s School of Education (SOE), this flexible one-year program, serving both current and aspiring K–12 educators, examines how systems of inequity impact schools and prepares graduates with the tools necessary to become authentic allies to the students they serve.

“We built this program with the goal of creating a nurturing, healing-centered, curious, and rigorous community of educators who embrace praxis that disrupts dominant ideologies,” says Teacher Education Department Chair, Professor Tomás Galguera.

Mills School of Education faculty launched Educators for Liberation, Justice, and Joy (ELJJ) as a redesign of the School’s longstanding teacher education program in June 2020, at the dawn of the COVID-19 pandemic, weeks after the police killing of George Floyd.

“In collaboration with stakeholders in Oakland Unified School District, the Black Teacher Project, and Mills College's Lead by Learning program, School of Education faculty reimagined the credential program for teachers in our communities' schools to teach well and be retained. The redesigned program centers relevance and accessibility for pre-service and intern students preparing for a career in the classroom,” says Dr. Wendi Williams, dean of the Mills College School of Education.

The one-year credential program serves intern and aspiring pre-service teachers with course schedules that accommodate current teachers working full-time as interns. Inquiry-based curriculum and hands-on field placements prepare students to become teacher-leaders who foster joyful and affirming classrooms for all students.

“Our outdated education system needs reform. The Mills ELJJ program provides a safe place for teachers and future teachers to look beyond the surface and understand the systems that hold our students back and to approach our important work through a social justice lens. The ELJJ program at Mills challenged me to break down everything I knew or thought I knew about education and to learn from faculty who have meaningful experiences as educators,” says ELJJ student Javier Martinez ’21.  

Graduates of the Educators for Liberation, Justice, and Joy program are prepared to teach in primary or secondary schools and to obtain a California state teaching credential, reciprocally recognized by 45 other states. Students may also obtain certificates in Waldorf education and in linguistically and culturally sensitive, trauma-informed teaching.

“The name of our program encapsulates the values we hold dear. While attuned to enacting humanizing and transformative justice curriculum and pedagogy, we unapologetically push for the liberation of all people, particularly those who contend with multiple and interlocking systems of oppression. We do all of this while maintaining joy and hope as a form of resistance,” says Associate Professor of Education and ELJJ Program Director Cliff Lee.

About the Mills College School of Education
Rooted in Oakland, the Mills College School of Education is at the forefront of progressive pedagogy, preparing educators who are dedicated to making a positive difference in their classrooms and communities. Student-teachers at Mills develop their teaching practice in intimate and driven cohorts of current and aspiring educators united in their belief that the power of learning is transformative. The School of Education offers undergraduate and graduate degrees in education with emphasis in urban classrooms and early childhood development in addition to a one-year teacher credential program. Programs are geared toward centering students’ curiosity, creativity, and holistic well-being in a manner that promotes gender, racial, and socioeconomic justice.

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