It is with great sadness that EdSource learned about the passing of Joan Bissell, a leader and pioneer in teacher preparation in California. She passed away on Sept. 11.
Over the past few months, Joan had brought her great knowledge, insights and passion about the teaching profession to EdSource in a volunteer capacity as a Visiting Policy Fellow.
At EdSource Joan was eager to contribute to educating and informing the wider California public. To that end, she authored or contributed to several EdSource “quick guides” in recent months, including, most recently, one on the teaching profession in California. She was looking forward to contributing in other ways as well.
Her work at EdSource was a coda to a stellar career. She retired as Director for Teacher Education, Educator Preparation and Public School Programs in the California State University Chancellor’s Office in February 2019. In that role, she helped to support teacher preparation programs in the nation’s largest university system that produces more than half of California’s teachers.
As the Linked Learning Alliance wrote in a tribute to her, during her tenure at CSU, “Joan provided leadership and support to countless systemwide initiatives and programs, building on an extraordinary career in education that rightly earned her legendary status in the world of teacher preparation.”
She was the driving force behind the New Generations of Educators Initiative, supported by the S.D. Bechtel Jr. Foundation, which from 2014-2019, sought to transform teacher preparation programs throughout the CSU system.
Joan earned a Ph.D. from Harvard’s Graduate School of Education, where she began her work preparing teachers as an assistant professor of Human Development. She later served as vice chair of the School of Education at UC Irvine and thereafter as Dean of the College of Education at Cal Poly Pomona.
While at CSU, she was an invaluable resource for EdSource on a range of matters during a difficult time for the teaching profession, for which she was an unflagging advocate.
We will miss her further contributions to EdSource. But her impact will continue to be felt in classrooms across California through the thousands of teachers who received their credentials through preparation programs that she worked for years to improve.
Joan is survived by her husband, Stanley Newhoff, daughter Elizabeth (Betsy), stepdaughters Michelle and Angela, and four granddaughters. Plans are underway at the CSU’s Chancellor’s Office to establish a scholarship in her honor.
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