Yvonne Montiel

Yvonne Montiel is Professor Emerita of Reading and Education at South Mountain Community College. She and Jackie Jaap founded the Dynamic Learning Teacher Education Program, the first program to have an articulated transfer agreement with Arizona State University’s College of Education.

From left: Yvonne Montiel, Frances Rodriguez, Brandon Gonzales, Jackie Jaap, interviewed Fall 2019

Yvonne grew up in South Phoenix. She recalls the Japanese Flower Gardens along Baseline Road and the fragrance of the sweet peas and flowers that reached her neighborhood on Broadway Road, marking the beginning of spring each year. Over the course of 70 years, Montiel has seen how development and business, along with newcomers to South Phoenix have changed the makeup of the South Phoenix community. She attended Rio Vista Elementary School, South Mountain High School, Arizona State University where she earned three degrees, and the University of California at Berkeley. She says she is very fortunate to have taught at South Mountain Community College where there has always been a focus on students and a commitment and support for collaboration with other colleges, public schools, community organizations and the university. Montiel taught for 28 years in MCCCD; she is a fourth generation Arizonan.

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Along with her colleague Jackie Jaap, Montiel sought to improve learning and performance among education majors. The two immersed themselves in research. Montiel’s research followed the development of the reading and writing process in Spanish and English over time, and the effects of a rich learning environment on the learning process. Meanwhile, Jaap studied the brain and understood that learning doesn’t always come from taking notes and listening to lectures. They found they shared a goal to teach students in a new and different way. They launched Dynamic Learning in 1993.

From left: Yvonne Montiel, Liz Warren, Lorraine Calbow, & Jackie Jaap in a meeting about the Dynamic Learning, 1992. Image provided by South Mountain Community College
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Dynamic Learning started as a two-semester program. The students completed projects and began to develop a new understanding for reading, writing, communicating, and using multimedia. Students worked on every aspect of learning and so they knew each other well.

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In 1995 Dynamic Learning met with the College of Education at ASU to plan an articulated program for bilingual/ESL, Elementary, Secondary and Special Education majors. There was a particular need for Bilingual/ESL teachers. The Dynamic Learning Program provided several strengths: A teaching and learning environment based on the current research on teaching and learning, students interested in teaching, a diverse student enrollment reflecting the South Phoenix community and connections with the local elementary schools.

SMCC and the College of Education at ASU formed a Memorandum of Understanding in 1996 and Dynamic Learning evolved into a four-semester teacher education program. Students were granted a direct transfer option as juniors to ASU upon completing the program.  

ASU was impressed with the abilities of SMCC students, since the students were prepared for academic life as a result of their Dynamic Learning experiences.  As the program evolved, local high schools joined in, and Dynamic Learning expanded its reach to include student initiatives, like the campus recycling program.  The program earned national recognition. In 2002, it was recognized by the U.S. Undersecretary of Education, Eugene Hickok.

Works Cited

  1. District Governing Board Minutes, June 24, 2014.

Student Researchers: Brandon Gonzales & Frances Rodriguez, Fall 2019
Faculty co-author: Summer Cherland
Edited by Yvonne Montiel