Educator Erin Studer, an administrator at Oakwood School in North Hollywood, has been named the new executive director of the CHIME Institute, which has extensive ties to California State University, Northridge.
Studer replaces Julie Fabrocini, who stepped down last year to become a senior program officer with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
“Erin has a deep understanding of the mission of the CHIME programs and school, and has both the skills and the drive to help us in continuing to move forward while maintaining the high quality of our program,” said Michele Haney, president of CHIME Institute’s board of directors and a professor of early childhood special education at Cal State Northridge.
Studer, who starts July 1, said he is looking forward to becoming part of the “CHIME family.”
“I want to maintain the quality programs CHIME already has in place, and continue to find the best ways possible to serve all the students that come to the school, which is a model of inclusive education,” he said. “More broadly, with the institute, I want to continue to find ways to share the knowledge about the inclusive model, not just locally but across the state and nationally as well. I think CHIME has a model of education that works for all.”
The CHIME Institute, located in part at Cal State Northridge, is a national leader in developing and implementing model educational programs and dynamic research and training environments to disseminate best practices in inclusive education. The institute’s research and training center is housed in CSUN’s Michael D. Eisner College of Education.
The CHIME Institute offers an infant/toddler program and a preschool/kindergarten inclusion program, which is located at Cal State Northridge.
The institute also operates an independent public charter school located in Woodland Hills that serves as a demonstration and teacher-training site for the Eisner College of Education. The K-8 school serves children who develop typically, children with special needs and children who are gifted learners. Students learn side-by-side in the same classroom.
Studer, of West Hills, has a bachelor’s degree in religion and a minor in English from the University of Iowa, a master’s in special education from National University and he was among the first cohort to graduate this spring from Northridge with a doctorate in education.
Studer began his educational career in 1998 with Summit View School, which offers comprehensive elementary, middle and high school programs for students with learning differences. A few years later, he was asked to help open Summit View’s west campus in Los Angeles. He went on to become an administrator with Pacific Ridge School in Van Nuys and eventually became an administrator with Oakwood School in 2006.
Studer has spent the past eight years providing teacher development at CHIME’s school, and spent many years as the school’s mentor for using neurodevelopmental methods in teaching. He said it was that relationship that convinced him to take the job as executive director.
“I was a special education teacher for many years before I became an administrator,” he said. “It was really wonderful to see a model for education that includes all students. I didn’t see students with special needs sent down one hallway, gifted students sent down another and the rest sent to a different place all together. That demonstration that everyone can learn together was exciting and drew me to CHIME.
“It is a wonderful community of people and students who have support from the university and are doing something significant in advancing a model of education that works for all kids and really is sustainable for all schools and all school districts.”
Fabrocini, who helped found CHIME’s school more than a decade ago and continues to sit on the institute’s board of directors, said she felt Studer brought a broad scope of knowledge, both as a teacher and an administrator, that would contribute to the growth of the institute and its programs.
“One of the things I think is so strong about his candidacy was that he knew the model for inclusive education that is CHIME, and believed in the model,” Fabrocini said. “Erin is a huge believer in that idea of drawing on the expertise of several people to serve a wide range of children. It’s important to note that that wide range of children in a classroom does not exist only at CHIME, but it exists in classrooms across the country. He is really a believer that we provide leadership and support so teachers can share experiences not only across grade levels but also across disciplines so that all students get the best education possible.”
For more information about the CHIME Institute, visit its website at http://www.chimeinstitute.org/.