Susan Bernheimer

Susan Bernheimer


Office Location
Pacific Oaks College
55 Eureka Street Pasadena, CA 91103
55 Eureka 55 Eureka St
Core Faculty
Human Development & Family Studies

Ph.D. Claremont Graduate University, Education
M.A. California State University, Northridge, Educational Psychology/Early Childhood Education
B.A. University of California, Los Angeles, Social Anthropology

Areas of Interest/Expertise

Life Stories for Growth and Learning
Non-traditional College Student Development
Intercultural/International Early Childhood Education
Bicultural Issues in Adult Learning
Empowering Communities in Poverty
Narrative Research Methods
Qualitative Research Methods


Susan Bernheimer is currently a member of the faculty in human development at Pacific Oaks College.  Her research and teaching focus on the following areas:  life stories for growth and learning, nontraditional college student development, bicultural issues in adult learning, early childhood education, and empowering communities in poverty.  She spent 12 years as a community college instructor, developing early childhood courses in programs that assist students in poverty.  Dr. Bernheimer is the author of New Possibilities for Early Childhood Education: Stories from Our Nontraditional Students (Peter Lang Publishing, Inc. (2003).  She has presented her work at international forums such as the Oxford Round Table and Reconceptualizing Early Childhood as well as at national and state conferences.


Delegate to People's Republic of China, December 2011
Invited to be part of an early childhood delegation traveling to People's Republic of China through  People to People Citizen Ambassador Program.

Reconceptualizing Early Childhood Education 2011 International Conference, London

"The Ethic of Caring and the Cultivation of a Democratic Learning Environment"
(Co-presenter, Tim Sundeen, Ph.D.  Pacific Oaks College)

National Association for the Education of Young Children 2011Conference, Florida: 

"Credit for Life Experience: A Structure for Linking Work Experience to College Credit" 

(Co-presenter: Tim Sundeen, Ph.D. Pacific Oaks College)

California Association for the Education of Young Children 2011 Conference


The Many Faces of Our Non-Traditional College Students: Addressing the Needs of Diverse Populations Entering Early Childhood Education

  • Presented with Jing Babb, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Los Angeles Trade Technical College

2010 California Association for the Education of Young Children  Annual Conference

Practitioner to Researcher: Enlarging the Circle

  • Presented with Enid Elliot, Ph.D. Post-doctoral fellow, University of Victoria, Victoria, BC

2010 Reconceptualizing Early Childhood Education International Conference

Inclusion Of Nontraditional Student:  In Institutions Of Higher Education: A Theoretical Frame

  • Presented with Sara Exposito, PhD., Associate Professor, Lewis and Clark College, Portland, Oregon

Foundation for California Community Colleges

5th Annual Youth and Adult Services Conference 2009

Keynote Speaker:  "Teaching Nontraditional Students"

Higher Education Forum, Wisconsin Early Childhood Association 2007

Keynote Speaker "Storytelling Practices: A Key to Cross-Cultural Education and Professional Development"

Oxford Round Table 2004

International Forum on Poverty, Education, and At-Risk Children. Oxford University, UK

Paper and Presentation "Teacher Preparation in Impoverished Communities: Challenges and Opportunities."


New Possibilities for Early Childhood Education: Stories from Our Nontraditional Students, Peter Lang Publication, 2003

Grappling With Modern Times: Preparing Teachers For The 21st Century(future publication)

"Telling Our Stories: A Key to Effective Teaching," Child Care Information Exchange Sept./Oct. 2004

"Teaching from Experience," Connections, 2003.

Community Involvement

President's Advisory Council: Play and Learn L.A.

Organization designed to bring early childhood educational resources to low-income regions of South and East Los Angeles.

Professional Memberships

National Association for the Education of Young Children

California Association for the Education of Young Children

OMEP World organization for early childhood educators


Q: Please describe your teaching philosophy.

Authentic learning takes place within democratic, interactive, and caring classroom environment that supports critical thinking, dialogue, and reflective practice.

Q: Please provide a statement or philosophy regarding the practice of human development.

Human development reaches into the core of understanding ourselves and others within a social/cultural framework. It provides a context for learning that enables students to gain the insights needed to support the full potential of children and adults they will work with.

Q: Why did you choose to enter the field of human development?

I believe the situation of our world today is in a critical state with a delicate balance between destruction and transformation.  I chose to study and teach human development as field that holds a key to bring about personal and social transformation and a more peaceful world.

Q: What advice would you give to a student entering Pacific Oaks College?

Trust the passion and motivation that brought you here, and allow the process of our unique pedagogy to transform your perceptions and understanding of yourself and others.