November 17, 2005
Mike Stepanovich, 661/654-2456, firstname.lastname@example.org,
or Jaclyn Loveless, 661/654-2138, email@example.com
A 35-year teaching career comes to an end on Tuesday, Nov. 22, when Dale Moody, a professor in California State University, Bakersfield’s School of Education, teaches his last class – to a group of 3- and 4-year olds.
Dale Moody, who began at CSUB on its first day in the fall 1970, is concluding his career doing something he’s never done before – working with pre-school children at Mount Vernon Elementary School, 2160 Potomac Ave., as part of CSUB’s preschool literacy program, funded by a $600,000 grant from Chevron Corp.
“It will be his last moment teaching as a professor,” said Geri Mohler, a literacy professor at CSUB and in charge of the preschool literacy program.
But Moody doesn’t lecture the children. He shows up looking more like Crocodile Dundee than a college professor. He brings an inflated kangaroo and a stuffed koala bear with him to the classroom, plays a didgeridoo, a bassoon-like instrument common to the Australian Outback, and shares foods found in foreign lands.
It’s Moody’s way of sharing his travels throughout the world, most of his destinations being to out-of-the-way places and third-world countries.
“He has been to Australia and New Zealand, among other places, and brings toys and fun things to the pre-kindergarten kids,” Mohler said. “He talks about where sand comes from on the beaches, gets them to say words from other languages. He talks about the changing of the seasons and why it gets cold or hot. It’s a wonderful multicultural presentation.”
For his part, Moody loves his final quarter’s work. “My greatest pleasure at Cal State has been this last quarter, going out into 22 pre-school and kindergarten classes to make multicultural presentations with my kangaroo and assorted animal friends from Australia,” he said. “I think every teacher preparing for junior or senior high and every university professor should have to work for a short time with preschool and kindergarten kids to see how expert some teachers really are.”
Mohler said the idea to have Moody work with the children came about through departmental discussions. “Dale needed things to do in his final quarter, so we came up with this as part of the preschool literacy project and something interesting for him,” she said. “He’s been having so much fun with this. He said he’s going to file a grievance because nobody got him to do this before.”
But the position was certainly not make-work, she said. Far from it. “I think anytime you bring in an interesting personality with things that kids have never seen before into a classroom it opens their eyes to what’s out there. A lot of our children never leave town. It’s been amazingly effective with the kids in our program.”
And, she added, the project has broken new ground: “We have a couple professors who now want to do what Dale has been doing.”