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UC Merced Extension | Education Programs


Mari Harris headshot headshot

Mari Harris, Ed.D.

Director of Education Programs, University Extension | 209-228-8639

Dr. Harris oversees the Teacher Preparation Program (TPP) preparing single subject and multiple subject candidates for a preliminary teaching credential.  In addition, Dr. Harris is an instructor for several TPP courses; Foundations of Teaching and Project Based Learning (PBL).  Dr. Harris received her BA and clear multiple subject teaching credential from California State University, Sacramento. Furthermore, Dr. Harris is a graduate of Mills College in Oakland, California where she received her Masters in Staff Development, Clear Administrative Credential and Doctorate in Educational Leadership.  She has more than 25 years in K-12 education as principal, vice-principal, site instructional coordinator and teacher.  Dr. Harris taught master’s courses and doctorate courses at Shanghai Normal University in Shanghai, China.  She is a life -long learner and an advocate for 21st Century Culturally Relevant Teaching (CRT). Dr. Harris is passionate about preparing teachers to meet the diverse student population in the Central Valley, and the state of California.

"Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world."
-Nelson Mandela




Marissa Lopez headshot

Marissa Lopez, M.A.

Associate Director, Teacher Preparation Program, University Extension 

Marissa Luna Lopez is a native valley resident and attended school in both Winton and Merced. She graduated from Merced High School, Merced College, and CSU Stanislaus, then went to work for the Merced County Office of Education as a special education teacher for 4 years. After that, she taught English, was a District Librarian, and taught 2nd grade over the course of 12 years for Planada Elementary School District. She transitioned to UC Merced as the Associate Director of Teacher Preparation after being a part-time instructor. She enjoys preparing teacher candidates for the classroom by mentoring, instructing, and advising them as they complete their coursework, clinical practice and assessments. 




Mayra's photo

Mayra Franco, B.A.

Credential Analyst and Program Coordinator

Mayra Franco was born and raised in Los Angeles and graduated from CSU, Northridge with a double Bachelor’s Degree in Liberal Studies and Central American Studies in Spring 2019. Mayra started working as a student assistant in the Teaching Credential office and remained for the past 17 years in the world of Teaching Credentialing.  When not at work, she likes to spend time with her family and friends. She also enjoys camping and loves nature outings.