Alumni News

“Monarch” Alumnus Josefina Cabrera Gets Into Her Work

Josefina Cabrera, Teaching Credential and MAE graduate in 2011, finds ways to wrap her professional and personal interests into her every day work. As a little girl immigrating to the United States from Mexico, her life would be deeply affected thereafter by this major change. She spoke no English. She was an “illegal alien.” She was one of seven children with a widowed mother. Learning the English language at 11 years old enabled her to relate to the millions of students in our school system who are trying to learn English while learning other subjects in that language. Her passion has always been working with students and providing a positive environment in which they can thrive.

Her family legalized their immigration status thanks to the immigration law of 1986. However, today she understands the implications of immigrating illegally into the U.S. and living undocumented. Her thesis at Antioch University Santa Barbara (insert title) afforded her the opportunity to research the implications of living undocumented and trying to access higher education. For her Thesis, Josefina narrated the story of a young brother and sister who faced economic, psychological, legal, and social obstacles in the pursuit of their professional dreams.

Upon completion of the MAE Program at Antioch University, Josefina explored ways to make a difference in her students’ lives. She has managed to do so in several ways. She has joined forces with UPPU, United Parents • Padres Unidos whose mission is to “advocate for equity in education, seeking to inform and empower parents, and to close the achievement gap among all students, promoting their academic, social, and emotional development.” Josefina was recently elected as a Board member.

Professionally, Josefina has found fulfillment in establishing a tutoring center, “La Escuelita en la Casa,” which runs from La Casa de la Raza and its mission is “to provide low-cost individual and small group academic support to students grades K-8th” and to support parents in advocating for their students by providing assistance at Parent-Teacher conferences and school meetings.

Additionally, in collaboration with UPPU, Antioch University Faculty and students, UCSB IDEAS, Improving Dreams Equality Access and Success (Student organization), Adsum Education Foundation, AB 540 Coalition, and other community leaders, The DREAM Act Action Committee was created to inform, discuss, learn, and share with the community about the challenges that 65,000 undocumented students who graduate from high school each year face as they pursue higher education.

Josefina also directs the Carpinteria Bellas Artes, a year-round program co-sponsored by the Carpinteria Valley Arts Council in cooperation with People’s Self Help Housing. The program offers in-depth cultural arts education and its goal is to promote self-esteem and maintain cultural heritage.

Josefina’s motto is “Si, se puede!” – Yes, we can! Cesar Chavez’ slogan in the farm workers struggle to improve working conditions. Ultimately, what is important in Josefina’s life is to support and advocate for students who may need the same support she received at the time in her life when she needed it most.

For comments, questions, or information on any of these projects, please email Josefina Cabrera at

Sean Federbusch (Multiple Subject Credential, 2010) Makes Headlines

SMART Technologies’ interactive white board combined with The Khan Academy’s (Academy) wide-ranging video library, practice exercises and in-depth evaluations combine to give Family School (Santa Ynez) students lessons not only in math, but in the multifaceted opportunities that can be found on the Internet. But good old-fashioned books and a low student-teacher ratio remains the backbone of the program.

Sean Federbusch, who teaches Purple Door North (otherwise equivalent to fourth grade), uses the website to supplement what is happening in his classroom. He finds Academy’s site particularly suited to his goal of individualizing his math program to each student’s specific needs.

Federbusch will often assign his students a particular problem module to do at home. There they can work at their own pace. The Academy’s program adapts to each student’s level, offering hints where needed.

Because problems are randomly generated by the software, students never run out of practice material. But just as importantly, says Federbusch, students are easily able to track how they are doing. He laughs recounting how sometimes students get so involved competing with their own records, they end up spending much more time on the program than is assigned.

“No, no, I was on a streak, I couldn’t stop,” Federbusch quotes his kids when they are challenged about the amount of time spent on the Academy site. Federbusch says the Academy works especially well with the SMART board available in his classroom. The SMART board is a system using his computer, software and a projector that allows virtually any flat surface to become an interactive computer monitor. “Students really get a kick out of interacting on it,” he says. The board records everything the class does, making it easy to go back, if a student is lost. “It just opens up incredible flexibility,” says Federbusch.

But at the Family School, technology is used only as a supplement. They strive to keep a focused balance on its use. For example, when first-grade students are getting one-on-one reading time with their teacher, the other students will be using computer programs carefully chosen to supplement other classroom learning.

Federbusch turns it on and lets students draw, play and demonstrate how the system interacts with them and what they are doing. They don’t seem to notice when he changes their focus from drawing images to doing math; the level of enthusiasm doesn’t diminish. For them, the two systems blend into one tool that makes learning fun instead of frustrating, at least most of the time.

The Kahn Academy and the SMART Board are just two small things, the students say, that make going to Family School so wonderful. From the Santa Ynez Valley Journal, April 12, 2012. Article by SaraLloyd Truax, edited by Gary Delanoeye