Alumni teachers touch the lives of thousands

Teachers of the Year Billboard

If your child was educated by the Sacramento City Unified School District (SCUSD), chances are he or she encountered at least one classroom instructor who learned the art of teaching at Sacramento State.

Sac State has produced 25 percent of the teachers in the SCUSD. The Sacramento County education system as a whole is similarly stocked with Sac State graduates.

The best teachers not only know content; they have a knack for inspiring students. Henry James was correct when he wrote: "A teacher affects eternity; he can never tell where his influence stops." James' aphorism is particularly apt when it comes to those teachers who are committed to making a difference in the lives of their students.

Sacramento State recently recognized 12 award-winning teaching alumni as representatives of the thousands who were Made at Sac State.

Alumnus Timothy Smith (pictured, second from left) is a case in point. Named one of five California Teachers of the Year, he was selected as the state's representative for the National Teacher of the Year competition.

He teaches ninth- through 12th-grade algebra and advanced placement statistics at Florin High School. He received his bachelor's degree in mathematics and his teaching credential at Sacramento State in 2001, and is taking part in the University's Internet Masters in Educational Technology (iMET) graduate program.

John Castro (fourth from left), who teaches fourth, fifth and sixth grades, was named 2010 Teacher of the Year by the SCUSD, and was featured on Sacramento TV station News10. He credits Sac State's rigorous iMET degree for much of his success with students.

Castro provides training for his colleagues and runs mini-workshops during staff meetings. He also goes to students' homes, meets families and builds relationships they'll maintain over the years. "I give them my cell phone number and encourage them to stay in contact with me," he says.

Jana Din (far left) earned her credential from Sac State in 1984 and has been building relationships with students and teachers at Galt High School for three decades. She designs her "Regional Occupational Program Careers for Children" classroom as a creative haven.

"Connecting with students" is Din's guiding pedagogical philosophy. She blends classroom simulations, peer teaching and role-modeling with interning in preschool and elementary school settings to give students a feel for what it's like to teach. Selected in 2011 as Teacher of the Year in the Galt Joint Union High School District, she considers her greatest reward to be inspiring students to find their niche in the world.

"We are proud to offer one of the finest educational experiences available, informed by superior professors and practical experience," says Sacramento State President Alexander Gonzalez. His words have particular resonance for the thousands of students whose lives have been touched by talented teachers who were Made at Sac State. - Alan Miller

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