Each month, we recognize faculty and staff for their enormous contribution to Union. Today’s spotlight is on Professor Allison Wilson Leggett, Ed. D., Lead Faculty for Union’s Child and Adolescent Development (CHAD) program. Dr. Leggett is based at the Los Angeles Academic Center.
As a 13-year-old taking on a summer job as a child care provider at a local Baptist church, Dr. Leggett began to fall in love with teaching young children. She took on the role of teacher, not knowing an adult was really responsible for the toddlers. With no prior training, she read to toddlers and, through play, taught them math and science.
A few years later, NASA approached her high school searching for a student with high aptitude in math and science, and asked her to work for them. With a fondness and propensity for math and science, this new summer internship shaped her interest in space travel and led to a six-year tenure with NASA. Dr. Leggett worked in a NASA chemical and physical lab where she was the only woman of color and the only female. “I relate to the movie Hidden Figures, because there were a lot of stereotypes about me and I had to fight through that discrimination to be respected. The experience also solidified my fight for educational equality. The barriers of discrimination crumble when education and experience are prioritized over gender and race.”
After leaving NASA she taught at the high school level and that is when higher education came calling. “One of my students won the state science fair. That publicity led to a job offer to teach at the higher education level, and I haven’t looked back since.”
Learn more about Professor Leggett in the Q & A below.
What attracted you to become a part of Team Union?
I am able to touch the lives of teachers through Child and Adolescent Development (CHAD). I find that excellence in teaching has a domino effect. Being part of the CHAD degree program allows me to teach the teachers who are educating the youngest and most vulnerable in our society. I have had the opportunity to visit migrant farmers whose children attend child care centers April – October each year.
I have the goal of expanding higher education to the under-served in California in order for child care assistants to become teachers, whether through the Virtual Classroom to improve access or being the second university in California to offer a doctoral degree in Early Childhood Education. Further, I have the goal of restating the Early Childhood Credential for the state of California, and am currently making recommendations to the state to amend the Teacher Performance Expectations (TPEs) in Early Care and Education (formerly Early Childhood Education) to include elements for teaching through play. California State Superintendent of Public Education, Dr. Tony Thurman, has asked that I join his transition team in preparing K-12 students for jobs of tomorrow (computer science, STEAM, CTE).
If you could have any job in the whole world, what would it be?
I would be president of a university.
What surprises people about you?
I think many people that meet me are surprised by my positive outlook after encountering obstacles. I constantly and consistently work to improve my practice. People are surprised about my fearlessness.
What is your favorite book, and why?
Since childhood, my favorite book has been Alice in Wonderland. A professor once pointed out that the book is an allegory of mathematics and physics. I found fascination in the quantum physics element of Alice shrinking to the size of an atom. It’s no wonder that is my favorite book!
What advice would you give to a young person?
Never give up on your dream.
Don’t give up on your dream to teach young children. Learn how the CHAD program can transform your life and community by clicking here, or call us today at 800-861-6400.