Dr. Claire Helen (Nunan) Pederson-Stevens PhD
July 22, 1925 – June 10, 2012
Born in San Francisco, Claire attended Lincoln High, earned a Bachelor’s degree in history in 3 years from UC Berkeley, and a Masters in History from Columbia University. She married Dr. Donald O. Pederson in 1950 (divorced 1973) and earned a Doctorate in Education in 1952 from Stanford University. The family grew and Don’s job took them to New Jersey, where she taught at Rutgers University. They returned to Berkeley CA where she accepted a position at UC Berkeley as Supervisor of Student Teachers. Later she taught at San Francisco State. Claire was recruited to found the Teacher Credential program at California State University Hayward (CSUH) where she taught Teacher Education and Child Psychology. In 1965, Don took a year-long sabbatical in Melbourne, Australia and Claire taught at Burwood Teacher’s College. There she met and became close with Dr. Lawrie Shears and his family. As the Director General of Education for the state of Victoria, Lawrie faced the difficulty of not having enough qualified teachers for the state’s growing school system. In the US, Claire’s teachers were completing their certificates but unable to find jobs. As both corresponded regularly, the idea emerged to send American teachers to Australia, and in 1972, the Victoria Teacher Selection Program was born.
For 7 years, Claire secured positions for over 5000 US teachers from all over the country to teach in Australia. It was the most successful program that the Australian Education department had in the United States and it expanded to other Australian states; Tasmania, West Australia and Queensland. Always of strong conviction and concerned with social justice, Claire insisted that the Australian system establish special education programs and that her teachers be treated with respect regardless of background or ethnicity. When her youngest mixed ethnicity child was deemed ‘honorary white’ on arrival in Australia, she demanded and achieved Australian Immigration reform.
Claire maintained her position at CSUH and after the teacher program ended, she continued to be invited to work in Australia. She used sabbaticals to teach and/or administrate at the University of Melbourne, Burwood Teacher’s College, Monash University, Kingston College of Advanced Education and helped found the Western Australian College of Advanced Education. Back in the U.S., she pushed for the establishment of a satellite CSUH campus in Concord to allow more working adults to pursue education. She retired from the State University in 1992 before the expanded campus footprint would become known Cal State East Bay.
After retiring, a friendship with a former colleague turned to love and Claire and John M. Stevens wed in 1994. Claire and John lived in San Francisco and Rossmoor and they traveled extensively around the world throughout their life together.
Claire was a staunch Liberal, had little tolerance for fools, and had a wry sense of humor. She enjoyed friendships with extraordinary people all over the world throughout her life.
Claire is survived by her children John Jay Pederson, K.D. Pederson-Rookard, Margaret Stanfield, Emily Mariko-Sanders and grandchildren John, Jason, James and Edward (aka Ted) and great grandchild Emily Mae.