Rossier School of Education Dean Karen Gallagher has been designated a Pahara-Aspen Education fellow, a prestigious title for individuals dedicated to entrepreneurial reform and revolutionizing the public education system.
The award is an honorable form of recognition for Gallagher’s litany of achievements and educational advances. The first dean to receive this accolade, Gallagher has established the Asia Pacific Rim International Study Experience, directed the effort to bring Math for America to Los Angeles and led the creation of USC Hybrid High School in September of last year. A champion of online education, Gallagher designed USC Hybrid High School as a charter school targeting students likely to drop out or face exceptional difficulties while pursuing their educations.
“The iconic ivy-covered college campus has its place, but [it does] not work for everyone,” Gallagher wrote in an article for the Huffington Post. “More and more learners are opting for online study. They need the flexibility and the ability to learn, if not at one’s own pace, then in one’s own space.”
Some students agree that the type of learning Gallagher advocates should be a viable option. To Adam Werksman, a freshman majoring in political science, the concept of USC Hybrid High School can have a positive effect on those seeking a way to enter the workforce.
“It’s a great idea, especially in this economy,” Werksman said. “[It’s great] for people re-entering the workforce, stay-at-home moms, veterans or people who didn’t go to college but now see that in this workplace, a college degree is necessary to secure the job that they want.”
Courtney Chism, a freshman majoring in writing for screen and television, noted that it could be especially effective in promoting justice with the struggling students that are USC Hybrid High’s focus.
“I don’t think education should not be a privilege,” Chism said. “It should be a right.”
Gallagher’s commitment toward improving the educational experience of those facing hardships comes after years of pursuing goals while facing hardships of her own.
“My mom taught me to rally the troops and get the support you need — even under less than ideal circumstances,” said Gallagher in an article on CrossCut.com. “It has made me dedicated to building education environments where every student, regardless of personal circumstance, can learn and succeed.”
Gallagher’s efforts spark confidence in those who are skeptical of the public education system. Janice Park, a freshman majoring in electrical engineering and recent public high school graduate, approves of such efforts.
“It’s nice to hear someone is trying to change the system,” Park said.
Ji Min Shin, a freshman majoring in electrical engineering, noted the significance of Gallagher being a practitioner of education both in and out of the classroom.
“It’s important to practice,” Shin said. “It works better.”
Gallagher remains enthusiastic about the current reforms as well as the ones she and her faculty are continuing to develop.
“With our robust platforms, students across the world have the opportunity to enroll in the finest graduate programs in education … and to be lifelong USC Trojans with all the benefits and resources,” Gallagher said. “As we continue to build these online opportunities, more and more well-prepared teachers and educators will be going into our communities to improve student learning.”