Honor an Educator Awards

Congratulations to the honorees and thanks to nominators for their generous support of the College of Education.


2007 Distinguished Award Recipients



Crawford, Dr. Teresa; Geftakys, Ginger - 2007 Distinguished Education Excellence Award


Knudsen, Linda - 2007 Distinguished Education Excellence Award


Alexander, John

“It would be impossible for me to describe all the ways John Alexander has made a difference in my life and in my musicianship.  Maestro Alexander is a master musician and outstanding music educator.  His ability to break down difficult concepts into comprehensible bites, his demand for excellence and his extending professional choral experience such as the Boston Pops Holiday Tour to his students, resulted in turning out high caliber choral musicians.  I continue to strive towards living up to this extraordinary educational opportunity I received.  I'm very grateful.”
~ Judi Elterman~


Alvarez, Michael

Michael Alvarez teaches English at Fullerton Joint Union High School. He is being honored for his great skill in opening his students’ minds to literature and establishing an environment where students feel safe to express their views. He is a master at communicating with adolescents, and they seek out his company in times of joy and stress. He is greatly appreciated for his positive influence on their thinking and for respecting this most important time in their lives.
~Ruth Yopp-Edwards and Family~


Anderson, Mary Jo

Mary Jo served the La Habra City School District for many years as a teacher, Reading Specialist and Site Administrator. She made a difference in my life as my mentor when I became her reading specialist. She taught me to accept my mistakes as learning experiences and to conduct successful community outreach. She also made the difference in countless lives of families in the Las Lomas School area. She established a health clinic for the people of the community during her time as principal on the Las Lomas School Site as well as language, literacy and job training classes for the community. She empowered the people of the Las Lomas neighborhood to take active roles in the education of their children and to make positive contributions back to the school and to the community. She made a lasting difference where she served and is deserving of highest honors.
~Judy Smith~


Baker, Dr. Nicole

“I will always be grateful to Dr. Baker for her efforts in my behalf when I wanted to change careers from television production to music teacher.  Because of the amazing person she is, I came to CSUF and my life changed for the better in "oh so many ways." She is a brilliant voice teacher and exceptional music historian.  I learned more from her than I an ever quantify. I am happy to honor her with this scholarship donation.” 
~Judi Elterman~


Barnes, Dr. Carol

Dr. Barnes was inspirational to me as a graduate student in Curriculum and Instruction.  I am currently a principal of an elementary school in Las Vegas and think of her often. Each time I look at my Master's Degree from California State University, Fullerton. I remember the classes I took from her and her encouragement to finish.
~Sharon Popolo~


Benner, Carin

I value Carin as a colleague and teammate. Her zeal for education and her selfless devotion to her students is to be admired. Carin is the Placentia Yorba Linda Unified School District Teacher of the Year.
~Kim Hennessy~


Bishop, Dr. Ashley

We wish to honor Ash as our teacher and mentor. Ash was one of four first professors in the Reading Program. His enthusiasm for reading education, scholarship, and dedication to top quality instructional practice inspired us then, and continues to inspire us now.
~   Kathryn Bartle Angus, JoAnne Greenbaum, and Donna Padgett~

Dr. Ashley Bishop has made a difference in the lives of thousands of teachers and their students. For thirty years, Dr. Bishop provided leadership in developing the reading education program at Cal State University Fullerton, and in 2004 he agreed to act as the founding Dean of the newly formed College of Education. As Acting Dean, Dr. Bishop established many fine traditions including “Honor an Educator” and the Carr Fellows Advisory Board, which honors the high achieving alumni each year. In honoring Dr. Bishop, I know that I express the gratitude of the faculty of his dedication and outstanding service to the college.
~ Dean Claire Cavallaro~


Boxdorfer, Suzanne

Suzanne was selected by her peers as SHHS Teacher of the Year and as District Teacher of the Year.  In her own words, Suzanne chose to become a high school teacher because she wanted contribute to the high school students and to help them experience the same level of price and excellence she was fortunate to experience in her high school life, thanks to many sacrificial adults.  She strives to do whatever she can to be available for students and faculty whenever they might need her.
~George Giokaris~


Case Maria Rico, Paula

I have known Paula Maria Rico for 14 years; it was while serving on the Hispanic Scholars Selection Committee that I had the opportunity to read her application for this scholarship. I was so impressed by her determination to work hard for her education, making sacrifices in order to accomplish this and giving of herself to helping those who are struggling for an education as she has done.  Paula Maria arrived in the country at age 12 unable to speak read or write English, yet she mastered this and graduated from Santa Ana High School with a GPA of 3.32 and three Honor Courses and three AP courses. She has always worked part-time through high school and college while achieving good grades in very difficult and challenging classes. She graduated from CSUF with BA in Biology. I am extremely proud of Paula Maria and her accomplishments.  She has served as a Math Tutor in the Pre-Collegiate Assistance for Students Success and she has served as college representative at the Valley High School in Santa Ana. She has decided to obtain her MA in counseling at CSUF to continue to help students achieve this dreams and goals and to lead a productive and fulfilling life. In May of 2006, Paula Maria received her Doctoral Degree in Education from USC.  She has taught for a few years before being an Assistant Principal at Sycamore Middle School in Anaheim. Paula Maria has been an inspiration and role model to all the many student she has encountered, including their parents, my husband and me.
~Peggy Hammer~


Dameron, Kit

Kit was my mentor when I was a new special education teacher in the La Habra City School District in 1986. When I became a professor at CSUF, Kit was the principal at Sunset Lane Elementary. She opened her doors to CSUF teachers and faculty, making Sunset Lane one of our best Professional Development Schools. I have valued her continued mentoring and friendship and I am proud to honor her.
~Barbara Glaeser~


Dickey R., Dr. Marc

“Dr. Dickey gave me much support during a difficult time. Because he shared his knowledge pf music education and classroom management with me, I will become a better music teacher. I am happy to honor this wonderful educator.”
~ Judi Elterman~


Diebolt, Jerome

Jerome was selected by his peers as Teacher of the Year at Sonora High School.  Jerome is a dedicated teacher who enjoys his job and his students.  He treats students with respect, humor and affection.  He sets high standards for his musicians.  Jerome has inspired a joy of music in students who have gone on to careers in music and those who will keep music as an avocation.  Mr. Diebolts teaches and guides his students as a positive role model.
~George Giokaris~


Elsten, June

June is a teacher at Eastbluff Elementary School within the Newport Mesa Unified School District. June is an exemplary 6th grade teacher who nurtures and challenges her charges to great heights and accomplishments.
~Julie Chan~


Falker, Matt

“I owe a great deal to Matt Falker. I sang with his CSUF vocal jazz group for 2 years.  I was an older student who knew nothing at all about vocal jazz technique.  I had been singing in traditional choirs whose style is generally very different from vocal jazz.  But I loved singing vocal jazz, and Matt Falker knew it.  So even though I wasn't very good when I got there, gradually I improved.  I learned so much from this talented musician.  I am grateful that he had the courage to stick with me and support me.  I am now a music teacher (K-8) and hope to be teaching vocal jazz techniques to my older students.  Matt Falker deserves kudos!”
~ Judi Elterman~


Ferguson, Sara

Sara is READ 180 Teacher with TeWinkle Middle School in the Newport-Mesa Unified School District. Sara is being recognized for exemplary teaching and outstanding implementation of the READ 180 program at TeWinkle Middle School.  We take pride in showcasing Sara Ferguson’s READ 180 classroom to visitors from schools and districts throughout Orange and Los Angeles Counties.
~Julie Chan~


Fliegler F., Kathryn

Katie is a Science Teacher at Trabuco Hills High School in Saddleback Unified School District who helps her students sees how classroom science can be used in their future careers.  For example, she co-founded the Trabuco Hills' Medical Science Institute where students study their core academic subjects and explore careers in the medical and health fields. Additionally, Katie started the High School Science Docent program at Trabuco Hills High School over 8 years ago.  Through this year-long course, high school students develop and teach standards-based science lessons to elementary school students, participate in 20 hours of community service and attend conferences and workshops related to the teaching profession.  Students participating in this course receive college credit through CSUF - Department of Secondary Education.  As a result of participating in this class, over 50 % of the high school students report they will pursue teaching as a career.
~Joel Slutzky~


Gardiner Reynolds , John

John Reynolds Gardiner, a founding member of the California State University, Fullerton College of Education Advancement Board, passed away on March 4, 2006.  John was an author best known for   Stone Fox,   a timeless children’s book with a powerful and important message.  He found school a challenge and was told that his grammar and spelling were so poor that he would never do well in college.  However, he received a master’s degree in engineering from UCLA.  John had a vivid imagination and wonderful sense of humor and, at the age of 28, took a writing class on the recommendation of his brother.  Fortunately, in the class imagination and humor were valued over spelling and punctuation and John became a writer.  Six years later he wrote   Stone Fox.  It has sold over four million copies, been translated into three foreign languages, and made into a movie starring Buddy Ebsen.  Fourth graders around the world find   Stone Fox   a wondrous   literary adventure.  John is being honored as an educator because it was close to impossible for him to decline an invitation to step into a classroom and motivate students to read and write.  His favorite theme was “How to write a story that is not boring.”  To thousands of children John and his books were never boring.
~Ash Bishop, Chair of Reading Department~


Giannetti, Mr. Rick

Rick Giannetti teaches physics at Fullerton Union High School.  He is being honored for sparking students’ interest in the subject matter. This knowledgeable, encouraging, and dedicated teacher is gifted in bringing the content of physics to life.  Students understand the practical applications of physics principles as they engage with real world problems. Whether demonstrating concepts by lying on a bed of nails and dropping a bowling ball on his chest, providing opportunities for students to conduct experiments, or lecturing, Mr. Giannetti motivates students to engage with the content.
~Hallie Yopp Slowik and Family~


Hatchel, Julie

Julie Hatchel is an elementary school principal who has made an incredible difference in my life. Four years ago she encouraged me to pursue my administrative credential and Master’s Degree, of course, at Cal State Fullerton! She has never passed up an opportunity to help spotlight my achievements or pass along an invitation to serve our school and district. She has offered invaluable suggestions and guidance to help me transitions from teacher and administrator. I will be forever grateful to Julie for the difference she has made in my life!
~ Lynn Souers~


Henderson, Mark

Mark Henderson teaches history at Fullerton Union High School, where he also coordinates the IB program. His students appreciate his passion for his subject matter and the joy and energy with which he approaches every day. They also appreciate his open door, as he welcomes his students into his classroom at any time during the day, making them feel valued and respected. We are grateful for the positive and lasting difference he has made in the life of our son
~Ruth Yopp-Edwards and Family~


Hostert, Kathleen

Kathleen is a graduate of CSU Fullerton’s multiple subject credential program.  She distinguished herself as a fourth grade teacher at Laguna Road before becoming Committee Partnership Coordinator/Organ Tissue Donation Educator – Co-founder and Event director of the Donate Life Run Walk.  Recipient of PTA honorary service award and the Community Super Hero award from the Orange County Register.  She gives tirelessly of her time and energy and devotion to this cause. She was nominated for the 2003 Heroes for Health Award, Good Housekeeping Magazine Award, and was part of the CSU Fullerton Vision and Visionaries. She has received recognition in Orange Metro, Orange Coast Magazine, and On the Edge, KCAL 9, Fox 11 and Saigon Radio.
~Judy Smith~


Hough, Aries

Aries was selected by her peers as La Vista High School Teacher of the Year 2007/08.  One of her students said, “Mrs. Hough is someone who I truly admire; she is the best and I am really lucky to have her as a teacher.  Ms. Hough is someone that I will always keep in my heart because she has always answered any questions I had and always believed in me ever since I’ve been in her class.
~George Giokaris~


Hudson, Randy

Randy is a Science Teacher at Dana Hills High School in Capistrano Valley Unified School District who brings science alive for his students through "outdoor classrooms."   Randy works with his peers to create integrated, experiential learning experiences for students, which result in an increased level of involvement in science, better understanding of complex scientific processes and a long-term retention of key instructional objectives.   For example, through the Turf-to-Surf program, a long-term monitoring project of the San Juan Creek Watershed, students conduct field research, analyze data and report their findings to their classmates, teachers, community stakeholders and members of industry and academia.
~Joel Slutzky~


Karge, Belinda

Belinda has gone the complete circle of education with me. First teacher supervisor, mentor for my job at Cal State Fullerton, then department chair, then colleague. Each position she has been more than stellar and including finally a life long friend.
~ Roxane Moore~


Koegel, Dr. John

“Dr. Koegel is an extraordinary musicologist and music history educator.  The breadth of his knowledge in this area is staggering!  And his enthusiasm for the subject matter is infectious.  In addition, he is very caring and supportive to his students.  He is one of CSUF's treasures.”
~Judi Elterman~


Levine, Dr. Joan

Dr. Joan Levine is not only a wonderful educator; she is an inspiration to all current and potential educators in the field of Special Education. She gets to know her students on a personal level and actively supports them through providing encouragement, guidance, and direction. She also encourages students to get involved and has been a tremendous advisor for the Student Council of Exceptional Children. She also generously shares helpful books and information she has collected throughout the years. She really wants to see students succeed and become the best they can be.
~ Colette May~


March, Dr. Les

Dr. March was my mentor and the guiding force that modeled a philosophy of teaching and learning that I have tried throughout my career to emulate. He said, “If they are not learning, we must change.” He said “If you want to change the system, you must stay in it.” He said, “We teach, not facts but people...the whole person." These words have been my inspiration since the day I walked into his class as a credential candidate at CSU Fullerton in 1976. Thank you, Dr. March for being there for me and so many others.
~Judy Smith~


McGuire, Mike

Mike is being recognized for providing exceptional leadership to the READ 180 intervention reading program in Newport-Mesa Unified School District and Santa Ana Unified School District.
~Julie Chan~


McLaughlin, Eileen

Ms. McLaughlin was a favorite teacher who inspired me and many other students. She not only introduced me to classical music, but also expanded my knowledge of great literature and art during junior high school.
~ Marsha Link~



Mrs. McCarson taught me in third grade. During that year, I learned how to read with improved comprehension. She made learning fun. She inspired me to become a teacher.
~Suzanne Vadnais Kull~


Niemeyer, John

John was selected by his peers at Buena Park High School as the 2007/08 Teacher of the Year.  His classroom is a perfect situation for any student to learn.  He has high expectations for his students, but provides the support and enrichment needed for success.  His visual aids are without compare.  He develops Power Point presentations that incorporate video, audio and images of historical documents and people that truly bring history to life.
~George Giokaris~


Pease, Dr. Donald

He believed in me and gave me the guidance that sent me on a wonderful career as an educator for 27 years, and then a Union Representative for the California Teachers Association.
~Margaret E. Wallace (Hawley)~


Pitochelli, Mr. Jim

Jim Pitochelli teaches physics and chemistry at Fullerton Union High School. He is a dynamic, entertaining, and enthusiastic teacher whose passion for the subject matter captures the attention and imaginations of his students. His energy permeates the classroom.  Mr. Pitochelli’s dedication to his students and their learning is evident in his daily interactions with them. They find him easy to talk with, always ready to help, and genuinely caring. The students who have had the opportunity to spend time in his stimulating classroom are very fortunate.
~Hallie Yopp Slowik and Family~


Prunty, Patricia

“I truly did not appreciate Professor Prunty when I was her student.  At that time, I had little experience teaching, and therefore, lacked an understanding about what it meant to stand in front of a class of students.  I regret my attitude in her class, and realize now, that she had a lot more to offer as a music educator that I realized.  I wish to thank her for all she taught me.”
~ Judi Elterman~


Rupp, Jeff

Jeff was selected by his peers as FUHS Teacher of the Year and as District Teacher of the Year 2007/08.  The greatest tributes come from his students, who say, “Mr. Rupp is an amazing teacher.  He has dedicated his life to the students he teachers.  Mr. Rupp values the intellectual development of his students as critical thinkers.  Mr. Rupp is the most outstanding teacher I have had the privilege of knowing.
~George Giokaris~

Jeff Rupp teaches history and Theory of Knowledge at Fullerton Union High School. He is being honored for inspiring his students to appreciate the value of learning. Mr. Rupp’s sincere interest in students’ development as learners as well as people is noted by his students. Equally notable are his quick wit, sense of humor, and unique teaching style. He is a one-of-a-kind teacher who will be remembered long after students pass through his classroom doors. His impact on his students is profound.
~Ruth Yopp-Edwards and Family~


Seminatore, Dr. Gerald

Dr. Gerald Seminatore  is a respected and valued colleague.  His commitment to his students, and truly all the students in the Vocal Area and the Music Department, is an inspiration.  I am grateful for his insights, for his generosity of time and sharing his vast knowledge, for his creativity onstage and in matters of curriculum and for his love of education, music and singing. I am honored to be his colleague and thank him for helping me be a better educator. Thank you for the opportunity to honor him.
~Patricia Prunty~


Sieberaler, Dr. Dennis

“Dr. Siebenaler gave me an extraordinary amount of support when I went for my teaching credential at CSUF.  He gave me so many useful teaching ideas and methods and he even demonstrated them for me in my classroom.  He drove all the way to Brentwood to observe me at least 3 times.  He suggested I teach recorder and showed me   how   to do it successfully.  He tutored me over the summer in order for me to pass my piano proficiency.  He gave me the sources for at least 50 musical games to do with my young students.  He was always available to help and give advice.  He assisted me by making a truly impossible schedule that I was confronted with last spring, workable.  He is an amazing professor, and I'll always be grateful to him”.
~ Judi Elterman~


Watson, Teri

“Mrs. Watson is a wonderful piano teacher who genuinely cares about her students.  I had a bad case of stag fright in her class, and she saw beyond my nerves to how hard I was working to succeed.  How fortunate it was for me that she was my teacher. Mrs. Watson is a wonderful piano teacher who genuinely cares about her students.  I had a bad case of stage fright in her class, and she saw beyond my nerves to how hard I was working to succeed.  How fortunate it was for me that she was my teacher.”
~ Judi Elterman~


Wells, Debbie

Debbie Wells is an exceptional kindergarten teacher in La Habra who always expects the best of each child. Her teaching techniques are extensive including her training in Reading Recovery and outstanding questioning skills. Her meaningful learning experiences involve all of the students, keeping them actively participating throughout each day. Teaching with Debbie for the last decade of my 35-year career way my pleasure and honor. She truly is an educator who has made a difference in my life and the lives of hundreds of lucky Ladera Palma students.
~Sara Holmes~


White, Susan

Mrs. White was my 10th grade English teacher and the reason I became an English major in college.  Although I knew I wanted to be a teacher when I met her, she was the “perfect” one in my eyes – the one who always entered the classroom with a smile on her face.  I still remember encouraging phrases that she said to me and am proud to honor her with this award!  Thank you, Mrs. White, for making such a difference in my life.
~Melinda (Mindy) Pierson  (maiden name:  Pullen)~


White, Vi

Vi recently retired from 30 years of inspiring and loving her students. Her first 20 years were spent as a Kindergarten & 1st grade teacher, where her love of reading and her joy at being “Mrs. White, the strict but funny teacher” made her legendary amongst students AND parents, who bribed, begged and pleaded with principals to allow their children to learn to read under her tutelage.

After finding that she was beginning to speak ‘kindergarten-ese” at adult functions, Vi transferred to 6th grade for her last decade of teaching, happily reencountering many of her former primary students. She became focused on integrating the arts into her curriculum, and her witty manner of skillfully teaching 6th graders not only academic lessons, but “life” lessons about honesty, kindness, and citizenship-  along with her dedication to engendering self-confidence in each student - changed hundreds of children’s lives for the better. In her “retirement”, she works with Azusa Pacific University as a Mentor Teacher, guiding an encouraging the next generation of “excellent educators” (not to mention attending numerous weddings of former students, and now heading into the ‘baby shower’ phase).
~Bobbee Cline~