Patti Formica: Advocate for Education, Here and Abroad
Just-retired Teacher Education program director led “Geo-Far” training that impacts teachers around the globe
When Patti Formica joined CGU’s Teacher Education team in 2010, she had just retired with a career’s worth of experience as a classroom leader, middle school principal, and school district program director. This past March, after four years of what Teacher Education Director DeLacy Ganley calls “dedicated and visionary service,” Formica retired once again.
But not before using her extensive background as an advocate for educational opportunity to help CGU bring to life a remarkable new professional development endeavor: a newly accredited program that provides valuable training to teachers in classrooms across the globe.
New teachers certified in the state of California are required to affirm their credentials through a professional induction program. If these teachers taught overseas, there was no way to use this experience to work towards state-based US certification.
Enter CGU and its new “Geo-Far”—as in geographically far—teacher induction program. Conceived in 2010 and launched as a pilot program in 2011 with 11 teachers, the program’s enrollment quickly doubled and then tripled in size under Formica’s leadership. In March 2014, the program earned official accreditation after its review by the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing (CTC).
From idea to accreditation, Formica’s retirement has been anything but idle.
“The idea was to create an induction program that could reach teachers all over the world,” she said. “What better way to take what CGU does so well and spread that knowledge to the communities that need it the most?”
Participants in the program take online academic classes while being “virtually” coached by a highly qualified induction support provider. Technology has been a crucial piece of the puzzle, with services like Skype, Google Docs, and Facebook bridging geographic distances and facilitating instructional support.
When Ganley first broached the idea, Formica was immediately intrigued. Formica—who worked in many capacities for nearly 30 years for the Pomona Unified School District—saw how reaching teachers and students overseas connected with her experience providing educational resources for socio-economically challenged communities here in Southern California.
“It’s the same sort of work on a different scale: training teachers to give kids the skills they need to build a generation, and to help those kids become a catalyst for further education and opportunity,” she said.
Thanks to Formica’s efforts, CGU is now the first university in California to receive approval from the CTC to provide a Geo-Far induction program, which is working with teachers in Japan, Guatemala, Brazil, Dubai, England, India, and other countries.
Early feedback and word-of-mouth regarding the program has been uniformly positive. “We’ve all been moved by our teacher testimonials,” Formica said. “They felt the level of support they received at CGU was far above their expectations. That level of support and the quality of that support are the real draws for our program.”
For now, however, Teacher Education and its Geo-Far program will continue to grow without her. With the program’s accreditation in place, Formica once again announced her retirement.
“But then again, who knows what’s next?”