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State Commission Taps UCR Educator

Head of Teacher Education at UC Riverside appointed to State Commission on Teacher Credentialing

Athena Waite to Represent UC Regents on Commission that Determines How Teachers are Certified

(April 24, 2003)

Athena Waite

Athena Waite

RIVERSIDE, Calif. —Athena Waite, director of teacher education at the University of California, Riverside, has been named to the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing, the public body charged with the preparation and certification of the state’s teachers.

Waite was named to one of four ex-officio, or non-voting, seats on the 19-member commission in February. Waite represents the Regents of the University of California on the commission. Her term will be open ended. The commission certifies and regulates teacher credentialing, develops teacher preparation and performance standards, proposes policies on teacher credentialing, conducts research and oversees disciplinary procedures involving the state’s public school teachers.

“This is a mark of confidence and a recognition of Athena’s depth of knowledge,” said Robert Calfee, dean of the Graduate School of education at UC Riverside. Waite’s appointment speaks well for the campus, which has one of the largest and most dynamic teacher preparation programs in the UC System, according to Calfee.

Directors and deans at the UC’s graduate schools of education must first nominate the commission candidate to the president of the university, who makes the appointment.

Positions on the commission require a combination of the technical knowledge of teacher credentialing with the political know-how of a state politician, Calfee said.

To UC Riverside’s advantage, Waite has served on a variety of the commission’s review panels and committees including one that developed plans for the reorganization of multiple and single subject teaching credentials under State Senate Bill 2042; another that reviewed the requirements for teachers to become reading specialists; and she served as a special education expert in focus groups for the Beginning Teacher Support and Assessment Program (BTSA).

Waite said the commission’s work has taken on greater significance following the passage of the federal Elementary and Secondary Education Act, commonly known as the “No Child Left Behind” act, which mandates a “highly qualified” teacher in each classroom.

“The commission determines what it takes to be certified as highly qualified,” said Waite, who noted that about 600 teachers in the state are working outside of their subject area because of shortages in certain subjects such as mathematics and science.

UC Riverside has been the active in developing innovative teacher education programs that strive to meet the need for teachers with the quality preparation required by the University of California and federal mandates. Teacher education initiatives include integrated special education masters and credential programs, a combined masters and credential program for single and multiple subject teachers, and the blended program of undergraduate teacher preparation. The blended program includes partnerships with area community colleges and the UC Riverside College of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences to better prepare students early for a career in education. As director of teacher education, Waite has been on the forefront of developing such programs.

Waite’s education career began in 1964 after receiving an elementary teaching credential from UC Berkeley. She taught elementary school and special education in the Oakland Unified School District for 13 years. She then taught graduate equivalent degree classes in Thailand for the U.S. Army and Air Force, tutored children with special education needs in Maryland and taught special education in Watertown, NY.

Waite arrived at UC Riverside in 1989 to pursue a graduate degree in special education then became director of specialist and dual credential programs in 1993. In 1999, she became director of teacher education.

The University of California, Riverside ( is a doctoral research university, a living laboratory for groundbreaking exploration of issues critical to Inland Southern California, the state and communities around the world. Reflecting California's diverse culture, UCR's enrollment has exceeded 21,000 students. The campus opened a medical school in 2013 and has reached the heart of the Coachella Valley by way of the UCR Palm Desert Center. The campus has an annual statewide economic impact of more than $1 billion.

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