Storytelling to Scholarship

Dr. Susan Bernheimer's courses in human development resonate with the voices of her students. As she prepares cadre after cadre of early childhood educators, she draws heavily upon their own stories to bring their chosen profession to life in ways that are relevant and inspiring. Dr. Bernheimer has taught nontraditional students throughout her career, and she has developed keen insight into the challenges they face, as well as the unique gifts they bring to the classroom.

Her book, New Possibilities for Early Childhood Education: Stories From Our Nontraditional Students, is just one example of the publication list built by Pacific Oaks' faculty and alumni over the years. Unlike the scholarship produced at more traditional universities, however, these publications are not weighed down in theory or statistical analyses; instead, they offer unique perspectives and practical guidance for their readers—typically, fellow professionals in the education and human development fields.

New Possibilities chronicles the stories of 16 courageous Latina and African-American women who wanted nothing more than to become teachers. "They represent the unspoken voice of our nontraditional students," Dr. Bernheimer says. "The frightened homemaker re-entering college, the uprooted immigrant, the divorced mother, the unemployed factory worker—all taking fledgling steps into a new world."