Dr. Claire He­len (Nu­nan) Ped­er­son-Stevens PhD

San Francisco Chronicle (Sunday) - - LIFE TRIBUTES -

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.

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