UPDATE: Hundreds of people celebrated the life of teacher Karen Smith on April 22. Actress Holly Robinson Peete announced that her nonprofit, the HollyRod Foundation, is renaming an award in honor of the Brandman student – ABC-7 news report.
The Brandman University community is mourning the sudden loss of one of their education students, who dedicated her studies and her teaching to the needs of special education.
On April 10, Karen Smith died after being shot at North Park Elementary School in San Bernardino, where she was a teacher. She also was a Chapman University College/Brandman University student since 2006; first achieving multiple subjects and special education teaching credentials along with an autism added authorization. She was pursuing her master’s degree in special education at the time of her death.
“Karen Smith had been a student at Chapman University College/Brandman University since 2006, when I first met her as her faculty mentor and advisor. She always had clear aspirations and was determined to be the best special education teacher that she could be. She was an excellent student, showing an intuition about her students and their individual needs that is uncommon for candidates in pre-service programs,” said Dr. Lynn Larsen, associate dean of the School of Education at the Brandman Riverside campus. “Her contributions in class and discussions in my office about special education always focused on what was best and needed for her students. A bright light for students with disabilities is no longer shining.”
“We are devastated to hear of the loss of Karen Smith. Karen exemplified the best of what Brandman strives to produce in the education workforce, a career changer whose passion and dedication transformed students to achieve their maximum potential both in and out of the classroom. Her dedication to students with special needs, in particular, is to be commended and we are proud to honor her legacy as it is sure to inspire future graduates,” said Dr. Christine G. Zeppos, dean and professor for Brandman’s School of Education.
Zeppos and the Brandman community extend their sympathies to the family, friends and students of Karen Smith.