HNU Education Department faculty recreates historic photo of founding sisters on Lake Merritt


The picture of the six founding sisters rowing on Lake Merritt is a visible symbol of the history of Holy Names University. As described in historical talks about Holy Names, they are a symbol of courage and commitment—a group that intentionally set out to make a difference in the world. The fact that they are rowing on Lake Merritt, a centerpiece of the city of Oakland in which our campus is situated, connects them in place and across time to Holy Names University today. Their educational mission in service of justice and excellence has survived and continues to thrive today. Education is a way of empowering those who are under-served and marginalized or traditionally do not have optimal educational opportunities.

When the photo of the current Education Department faculty on a gondola on Lake Merritt in October of 2010 is juxtaposed with the historic photo of the founding sisters, we see a tangible reminder of the legacy carried forward from 150 years ago. Each member of the Education Department brings with them a rich heritage and a commitment to education.

Sister June Kearney, snjm, is a Professor Emerita of Holy Names University. After graduating from San Francisco College for Women, she spent nine years as a classroom teacher in elementary schools in San Diego and one year in Germany with the U.S. Department of the Army as a second grade teacher. She then returned to San Diego City Schools for a wonderfully challenging experience as an elementary school teacher consultant for three years. After becoming a Sister of the Holy Names, she began teaching at Holy Names College while earning her doctorate degree at the University of California at Berkeley. In her role as the coordinator of the elementary education program, she met capable and talented women and men who were eager to become elementary school teachers. Many gifted supervising teachers opened their classrooms to student teachers from Holy Names. This strong collaboration with local public schools and schools in the Diocese of Oakland continues today. Sister June continues to be an inspiration to the Education Department faculty.

The Chair, Dr. Thea Maestre, grew up in an immigrant Byzantine Catholic community in New Jersey, where education and faith were at the center of community values. She moved to California in the late 60’s, raising her family in Oakland where her children attended public schools. After she received her teaching credential at Holy Names University, she taught in the elementary schools in Oakland for over 25 years. She became interested in the diverse ways in which people learn, and worked around the country as a learning styles consultant for Dr. Bernice McCarthy’s 4MAT system. After earning her doctorate at the University of California at Berkeley, she returned to Holy Names to prepare teachers for elementary schools. Following her interest in the social studies curriculum, she co-authored a book called, Through Other Eyes: Developing Empathy and Multiple Perspectives in the Social Studies. As Chair of the Education department and instructor in the Multiple Subject Credential program, she continues to foster the development of teachers in urban schools, encouraging the teacher candidates to work toward excellence, and to design learning experiences which inspire joy and curiosity.

Marion Marshall, Coordinator of the Educational Therapy program, has earned several credentials over the span of her teaching career. These in clued: an elementary teaching credential, a Mild and Moderate (special education) teaching credential, a Moderate to Severe (special education) teaching credential and an administrative services credential. Her many awards over her distinguished career include the CARS (California Association of Resource Specialists) award as California Special Educator of the Year and the AET “Community Service Award” for her many hours of pro-bono work and the recent awarding of the FAET, the highest honor that is granted to persons who make an extraordinary contribution to the field of educational therapy. Students with disabilities and learning differences are often under-served and marginalized. Marion’s passions for equity and excellence are demonstrated in her teaching: she models excellence in her knowledge of her areas of expertise and her dedication to her students as she plans classes that engage and challenge her students to know and hold on to “best practices” while serving as advocates. Marion’s dynamic teaching style brings joy into her work of creating equity for students with special needs.

Dr. Zaida McCall-Perez was born in Puerto Rico. She was raised bilingually, and is a native speaker of English and Spanish. She obtained her first teaching credential at the University of Wisconsin, Madison followed by a California teaching credential and Master’s in Special Education at San Francisco State University and Doctorate at the University of San Francisco. Her career prior to coming to Holy Names was dedicated to serving underprivileged and underserved students, and children of immigrants and bilingual and English Learner youth in linguistically diverse urban areas. Dr. McCall-Perez has had many roles in education: high school teacher, founder/principal of a newcomer school, researcher of issues related to school reform for a diverse society, immigrant youth and English learners, and administrator of Bilingual Multicultural Education in a California K12 school district. At Holy Names, she is the Coordinator of the Master of Education program and the Bilingual Authorization program. She is passionate about the nurturing of new entrants to the field of education and the professional development of mature educators conducting educational research in pursuit of advanced degrees. She is an advocate for the promotion and maintenance of heritage languages through bilingualism and biliteracy as elaborated in her chapter in the book, Multicultural Perspectives.

Dr. Kimberly Mayfield was born in San Francisco and raised in Oakland. After obtaining her teaching credential at Holy Names College, she served as a special education teacher in the Oakland Unified School District. She currently is the coordinator of the Special Education Credential program, working to ensure that this population of children has highly trained teachers. She volunteered in the community to serve on a task force whose mission is to ensure that under-represented groups are part of the local teaching force. She states that the joy of teaching the courses in Social Foundations and Multicultural Education is that she is able to ensure that candidates are grounded in progressive and transformative ideas about teaching a diverse population. She understands the necessity and value of seeing students both as individuals and part of the human family with multiple diversities. Her chapter in the book, Racial and Cultural Competence in the Urban Classroom, focuses on her individual development as an educator who is able to recognize and inspire greatness in the students she serves.

Dr. Julie Henderson, the most recent addition to the Education Department faculty, is trilingual, speaking English, Spanish and French. She has been a teacher and principal in different urban areas of the United States, including Washington D.C., Detroit and San Jose. She worked with Rosa Parks on liberation curriculum and continued that work at Stanford where she earned her doctorate degree. At Holy Names, she is currently the coordinator of the Single Subject Credential program. She teaches several courses in that program, including preparing teacher candidates for the rigorous Performance Assessment for California Teachers. She also teaches a course entitled “ Issues in Urban Education,” and aspires to ignite the passions for justice and equity in her Master’s degree students.

So when you look at the two boats, each carrying six women of extraordinary energy and commitment, think about how they are linked across the years—and how the spirits of the past can have a profound and stabilizing influence on the actions and aspirations of those in the present.

The values of the Sister of the Holy Names (e.g., Full Development of the Human Person, Dedication to Women and Children, Service to People Who are Poor or Marginalized, Dedication to Justice) have been realized because of the united efforts of everyone across time.

This entry was posted in Faculty News, Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary. Bookmark the permalink.