Credential Program Alumna
School of Education
January 1, 2010
Educator Strives to Instill Passion for the Profession in UCI Teacher Candidates
Dr. Kimberly Barraza Lyons is a Lecturer in the Department of Education at the University of California, Irvine and has spent much of her academic life at UCI. First coming to the University as an undergraduate, she earned her B.A. in Spanish Literature. After living and teaching abroad, she returned to UC Irvine to obtain her teaching credential in Spanish and English as a Second Language. While a classroom teacher, Dr. Barraza Lyons was recognized by the California Language Teachers Association as Orange County’s Foreign Language Teacher of the Year and became a teacher leader with Project COACH, a professional development organization serving foreign language teachers in and around Orange County.
Dr. Barraza Lyons left the classroom to return to graduate school, entering UCLA’s Graduate School of Education and Information Studies as a Linguistic Minority Research Institute Bilingual Fellow. There she earned her Ph.D. in Education with an emphasis in Urban Schooling. A recipient of a dissertation grant from the American Educational Research Association, Dr. Barraza Lyons’s research focused on the advancement and professionalization of the teaching profession, specifically examining the effects of pre-service preparation on the retention of urban educators. Under the auspices of UCLA’s Institute for Democracy, Education and Access, Dr. Barraza Lyons collaborated with the Graduate School’s Teacher Education Program to design and administer longitudinal teacher surveys to track the retention of the program’s graduates. These data revealed that new teachers who have more traditional preparation components (e.g., learning theory, material selection, classroom observation, practice teaching, and feedback on practice teaching) are more than twice as likely to stay in teaching. Additionally, separate analyses indicated that while the highly-qualified graduates of UCLA’s teacher preparation program tend to leave their classrooms, they stay committed to urban schools in other ways, and are less likely to leave for careers outside of education.
Dr. Barraza Lyons serves as a research consultant to the Center for Teaching Quality, a non-profit research and policy organization advancing teacher leadership and the teaching profession. There, she is part of a research team using quantitative and qualitative methodologies to longitudinally examine the effects of focused professional development and professional learning communities on the retention of science teachers across the state. In her research, funded by the California Postsecondary Education Commission, Dr. Barraza Lyons employs large-scale, national datasets to compare effects of programs in high-needs schools.
Her recent co-authored publication, Making a Difference: Developing Meaningful Careers in Education, (Paradigm Publishers, 2009), examines the complex institutional forces shaping teachers’ career decisions, dispelling the dichotomous myth of teacher retention: to teach or not to teach. In this work, Dr. Barraza Lyons argues that the traditional hierarchical structures that exist in schools today reward teachers for leaving students and classrooms, forcing them to choose between advancing their careers and staying engaged in the core work of teaching. Dr. Barraza Lyons maintains:
As teachers and teacher educators, we must create a profession that rewards teachers for staying connected to students and student learning rather than moving away from them.
Dr. Barraza Lyons formerly co-directed the secondary credentialing program here at UC Irvine and currently teaches Education 347: Foundations of Equity and Diversity for Secondary School Teachers. She is a full-time high school Spanish teacher and serves as the President of the Board of Directors for the Orange County Educational Arts Academy, a K-8 charter school where her daughter is enrolled in the school’s dual-immersion program.
Having taught at the pre-K, elementary, and secondary levels, Dr. Barraza Lyons did not come by her devotion to and passion for teaching by happenstance. Her mother is a retired superintendent, her step-father a retired English teacher, and her step-brother a Social Studies teacher at a local high school. In her family, Education isn’t simply a topic of discussion over dinner; it’s a way of life. Her goal is to instill the same passion for the profession in the candidates here at UC Irvine.