Santa Clara University

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Phone: 408.554.5487
Room number: 120 H

Cheryl McElvain, Ed.D.

Lecturer - Interdisciplinary Education and Basic Teacher Credential Programs

Cheryl McElvain personifies the legacy of three generations of California public school teachers. Growing up in San Jose California, she frequently visited her grandparents who experienced the Dust Bowl migration from Oklahoma to the Salinas Valley as migrant farm workers.  Their resilient spirit instilled a strong work ethic and passion for justice that Cheryl continues to share with many immigrant families today.

From the age of 5 Cheryl knew she wanted to be a teacher, so it was not a surprise that she received her teaching credential in 1975 from San Jose State University, her parents' alma mater. For the next 30 years, Cheryl taught K-8th grade multilingual populations in northern California public and private schools focusing her attention on marginalized immigrant populations and English language learners.

In 2001 she earned an M.A. in Language and Literacy along with a Reading Specialist Credential from San Jose State University. In 2005 she earned an Ed.D. in International and Multicultural Education with an emphasis in Second Language Acquisition from the University of San Francisco. Understanding the obstacles facing underserved first and second-generation immigrant students in California, Cheryl has focused her research efforts on ELL literacy instruction, bilingual cognition, and developing transactional learning communities for second-generation immigrants.

Funded by a Santa Clara University Education Department Grant, Cheryl is the principal investigator of Inequities in Mental Health Services for Vulnerable School Aged Children: A Character Study of Resilience, Self-Discipline, and Hope. This research project is studying the effects of school based mental health services for impoverished Latino students and their families attending Glenview Elementary School in Gilroy California. Specifically the study will report how/if the Glen Project improves the contexts and student attainment of character traits that predict academic achievement and social-emotional resilience. The study explores home and school program affects within eight thriving indicators: student support, empowerment, boundaries and expectations, constructive use of time, commitment to learning, positive values, and social competencies. The Glen Project is a three-year mental health initiative whose mission is to improve the physical, behavioral health, and academic success of Glenview Elementary School (K-5) students and their families by advancing site based comprehensive mental health services to underserved, low income Latino families. It is funded by a Santa Clara County School Linked Services Prevention Early Intervention (PEI) grant.

Cheryl lives in Morgan Hill California with her husband Larry. She enjoys morning hikes, discovering with her two young grandsons, and traveling around the world.

Cheryl's recent publications include:

McElvain, C. (In Press). El proyecto de los libros abecedarios: Learning from the inside out. The Journal of Multicultural Education.

McElvain, C. (In Press). The role of family in the acculturative experiences of Latino immigrants. In J. Moreno and J. Benitez (Eds.), Greenwood Encyclopedia of Latino Issues Today.

McElvain, C. (2010). Transactional literature circles and the reading comprehension of at-risk English learners in the mainstream classroom. Journal of Research In Reading, 33 (2), 178-205.