Growing up in San Jose California, I frequently visited my grandparents in Salinas. They would often tell me stories of the hardships they experienced during the Dust Bowl as they migrated to California from Oklahoma and joined the circuit of migrant farm workers in the central valley. I remember helping my grandmother carefully wrap each lettuce head in the packing sheds of the Salinas Valley six days per week for pennies before Cesar Chavez improved the conditions for farmworkers in the late 1960’s and 70’s. These experiences and the resilient spirit of my Cherokee ancestors instilled a passion for justice that I continue to share with many migrant families today.
Throughout my childhood, both of my parents worked hard to break their cycle of poverty by becoming the first generation in our family to graduate from college. They taught in San Jose public schools for over 25 years and passed down a love for teaching to my brother and me. From the age of 5 I knew I wanted to be a teacher, so it was not a surprise that I received my teaching credential from San Jose State University, my parents’ alma mater. For the next 31 years, I taught in K-8 in public schools focusing my attention on emergent bilinguals and recently arrived refugees from around the world. In 2001 I earned an M.A. in Language and Literacy along with a Reading Specialist Credential. In 2005 I returned to higher education to earn an Ed.D. in International and Multicultural Education with an emphasis in Second Language Acquisition from the University of San Francisco.
For the past 17 years, I have enjoyed living out my passions as a faculty member in the Master of Teaching and Teacher Credential program in Santa Clara University’s School of Education and Counseling Psychology. I conduct local and international research projects investigating patterns of resilience and effective reading instruction for migrant youth and their families. My research explores the academic and social effects of The Transactional Learning Community Model (Bowen, 2018) in various educational and community settings. Additionally, I study the cognitive and sociocultural effect of Transactional Literature Circles (TLC) on the development of academic language skills in intermediate and emergent bilinguals. My research projects have included work with several northern California school districts, community housing foundations, and nonprofit counseling agencies.
My philosophy of education is ecological in nature and involves dynamic, equitable transactions between students, families, schools, knowledge, and the world. In each of my courses, I strive to develop student-centered activities which incorporate antiracist frameworks and authentic application of classroom learning in the real world. I believe that the true value of education lies in its power to transform the individual to effect sustainable, equitable, and positive change in their world. My hope for you is that you see yourself as a voice for the voiceless, a conscience for justice, and a visionary for what might be in the world.
Cheryl lives in Los Gatos, California and enjoys intercultural learning experiences, wine making, and riding her bike.
You can access all my publications through ScholarCommons: