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Learning Leadership in a Foreign Land
Linda Orozco
Linda Orozco, seated among children in a school in Thailand, teaches Cal State Fullerton students administrative leadership skills in a special overseas class offered in the summer
Practicing school leaders participate in an intensive two-week course in Thailand to give presentations, consult with teachers and earn credentials.

June 23 , 2006 :: No. 288

When Debra Quan was in Chiang Mai, Thailand, last summer, she learned a great deal about problem solving, adaptability and flexibility.

“When in a foreign country, it is not as easy to produce work, handouts for presentations and research,” said Quan, director of human resources for San Rafael City Schools in Marin County. “From as minor as the size of paper, to materials — where to get them — to getting copies made, and with a language barrier, I might add, even the simple things can become challenging. … But, being away in a foreign country is good in that one is able to focus on the tasks at hand with little or no distractions. My office couldn’t reach me, and, living for two weeks where the culture surrounds you is an incredible experience. How quickly you learn that there are so many similarities in educational issues — money, discipline, programs.”

Quan was among eight students enrolled last summer in Linda C. Orozco’s Tier II in Thailand educational leadership course. Orozco, a Cal State Fullerton professor of educational leadership, has been taking students to Thailand for the last two summers and is set to return July 17-28 with 16 more students.

Orozco, of Newport Beach, developed the Tier II in Thailand program as a result of her participation in a Fulbright-Hays grant, administered by the U.S. Department of Education, which sent her and 13 other university faculty members to Thailand in 2004 to develop partnerships and international collaborations.

The Tier II in Thailand program, for practicing school leaders, is an intensive two-week summer class — an accelerated version of the course offered on campus during the fall and spring semesters. New school administrators are required to attain a Tier II professional administrative credential within the first five years of their assignments, Orozco said. The course qualifies students for the credential. As part of the nine-unit class, she said, students are expected to demonstrate mastery as a school leader. Also, as part of the program, they visit schools, give presentations and consult with teachers and administrators.

Teaching the class in Thailand “is the highlight of my career,” Orozco said. “This is an unusual program, one that I haven’t heard other universities providing. The entire class is taught outside the U.S. The students get an international experience that bolsters their résumés, as well as their own growth.”

Former pupils have included administrators from school districts throughout the state.

“I had the good fortune to be able to attend Dr. Orozco’s class in Thailand and it was a remarkable experience,” Quan said. “Classes like hers are wonderful opportunities. I was lucky that I happened upon this opportunity for myself.”

This year’s students are:

Linda K. Babcock, assistant principal for San Luis Obispo County Office of Education Court and Community Schools; Marcia Encinas, coordinator of math, science and textbooks for Newport-Mesa Unified School District; Alicia B. Hernandez, assistant principal at Montclair High School; Misha Karigaca, principal of Westlake Middle School in Oakland; Nancy Kawata, principal of Travis Elementary School in Fairfield; Michael Kellison, principal of Brookside Elementary School in San Anselmo; Glenda Lopez, coordinator of San Bernardino Adult School; M. Kathleen Mcnamara, program specialist and coordinator of transition services for Fresno Unified School District; Ann Morton, director of special education for Los Gatos-Saratoga Union High School District; Lucy Salerno, principal of Center Elementary School in Fairfield; Joni Siegel, assistant principal of Ontario High School; David Silver, principal of Think College Now Elementary School in Oakland; Tracy Smith, principal of Venetia Valley School in San Rafael; Robin Spindler, director of student services and special education for the Berryessa Union School District in San Jose; Sylvia Villarreal, vice principal of Wardlaw Elementary School in Vallejo; and Lorretta Whitson, director of student support services for the Monrovia Unified School District and executive director of the California Association of School Counselors.

Media Contacts:

Linda Orozco, Educational Leadership, 657-278-7246 or
Mimi Ko Cruz, Public Affairs,  657-278-7586 or


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