Honor an Educator Awards

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


2014 Distinguished Award Recipients



Fullerton School District and COE Faculty - 2014 Distinguished Education Excellence Award


Orange County Council for Exceptional Children and COE Faculty - 2014 Distinguished Education Excellence Award 


Carter-Wells, Dr. JoAnn - 2014 Visionary Leadership Award


Amer, Rehana

Early Childhood Special Education Teacher, Anaheim Unified

Rehana has been an advocate for including young children with disabilities in the general education setting since she earned her Early Childhood Special Education credential in 2010. She earned her Master of Science degree at CSUF in 2012. Rehana was an IDREEAM scholar, who has worked towards providing inclusive opportunities for her students and has been a true leader and change agent in education. Rehana has served as a mentor to new teachers

Dr. Janice Myck-Wayne


Beckham, Dr. Meri

Lecturer, CSUF College of Education

Dr. Beckham is genuinely concerned for my learning, growth and development. She is extremely supportive and encouraging throughout my dissertation process. She went over and above as my dissertation chair to help me succeed. I am forever thankful for her tireless efforts and continual support.

Dr. Chan Ton


Bonsangue, Dr. Martin

Professor, CSUF College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics

Dr. Martin Bonsangue is a professor in the Department of Mathematics. Dr. Bonsangue holds a B.A. in mathematics from UC San Diego, an M.A. in mathematics from CSUF, and a Ph.D. in mathematics from the Claremont Graduate School. A faculty member at CSUF since 1992, he was named the university’s Outstanding Professor for 2011. He has been a longtime champion of developing better mathematics teaching skills for elementary, middle school and high school teachers. In addition to his teaching load, Dr. Bonsangue has authored numerous peer-reviewed papers and has an extensive and successful history of grant execution. He is currently PI for an NSF Noyce grant and was a co-PI for the NSF TEST:UP grant that ended in 2013. Dr. Bonsangue has been a primary leader in bringing SI methods to mathematics at CSUF.

College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics


Cittidin, Dr. Lenelle

Fullerton School District/Fullerton Arboretum

In memory of Lenelle who passed away on January 9th   after many years in education as teacher, administrator, mentor, and program director at the Fullerton Arboretum.

Ed and Kay Krausman


Coombs, Jim

Principal, Buena Park High School

Jim Coombs is the Principal of Buena Park High School. Since starting at BPHS in July of 2010, Mr. Coombs has been the integral force for positive change at Buena Park High School. His most notable accomplishment was the formation of a partnership with Cal State Fullerton University, Fullerton College, and Mt. San Antonio College to provide Buena Park Students the opportunity to earn college and high school units simultaneously through the EARLY COLLEGE program. This unique dual-credit program draws students from surrounding areas in their desire to become competitive in their quest for college acceptance. Revamping the athletic department has put Buena Park High School on the map and it has become the school of destination for many college football recruiters. All athletics have seen a change in the spirit and belief in which all students may participate in athletics if they choose to do so. Students are encouraged to become involved in extracurricular activities in order to feel connected to Buena Park High School, “Home of Scholars and Champions.” Mr. Coombs takes an active interest all students and meets individually with many of them giving them guidance throughout their high school experience. Other firsts for BPHS include the realization of the Coyote Academy of Visual and Performing Arts (CAVPA) and an Engineering and Robotics Academy. CAVPA encompasses pathways in five branches of the arts: band and orchestra, vocal music, digital/media arts, dance, theatre, and 2D and 3D art. The Engineering and Robotics Academy includes the implementation of the nationally-recognized program “Project Lead the Way” and includes Computer-Aided Drafting (CAD). The support given by Mr. Coombs for new and creative programs is felt throughout the staff. Coyote HOWL, an intervention program for students, was organically grown and developed by the staff due to Mr. Coombs’ support. Technology has grown exponentially over the past three years. Free SAT courses are provided for students in need in order to prepare for the SAT. Buena Park High School has become a SAT test site—the only school in the area. Mr. Coombs has endless energy and has dubbed “Coyote Country” a home for all. Students, staff and parents are witnessing the instructional, curricular, and physical renewal of the school. The Agricultural Sciences have tripled in growth in the past three years. Students have open access to all AP courses which has resulted in over 1,000 AP exams taken, the third highest in the district. New AP courses have been added during Mr. Coombs’ leadership at Buena Park High School. The staff, with Mr. Coombs’ leadership, is proud to be ranked in the US News and World Report’s Top 1000 High Schools and of all the schools in the FJUHSD they are ranked #3, as well as among Newsweek’s Top 1000 High Schools. The impact that Mr. Coombs has made at Buena Park High School is a personal one. From the moment he set foot on our campus (even before he was officially hired) he made BPHS his home, and was determined to make BPHS the best it could be. Students look up to him not as just as a principal, but a role model and father figure. This was best exemplified by the student-grass roots effort to organize a special birthday surprise for their principal two years ago. “In all my years at BPHS, and I’ve been here since 1983, I have never seen such an affinity for a principal as what the students feel for Mr. Coombs,” stated Karen Oja, Principal’s Secretary, “He takes such care to connect with the students—taking many under his wing, and not hesitating to have a ‘fatherly’ talk with those who need it. During his commencement address, Mr. Coombs leaves the dais and walks among the graduates as he delivers an interactive, motivational, inspirational and very personal address to the graduates. A talk that makes the listener, whether graduate or spectator, proud to be a part of this school community affectionately called Coyote Country.” Thanks to a man who truly cares about students and cares about the school as a whole and its impact in the community, “Home of Scholars and Champions” is not just a tag line, but a reality.

Anh & Rick Nelson


Dalessi, Mary

CSU Fullerton and Anaheim Union H.S. District

Ms. Dalessi has dedicated her life in the service of education. She has been a teacher, a principal, District Administrator and also a faculty member at CSUF. Her efforts have all been in service of the greater good. What we most remember was her dedication to the Future Teachers Program at CSU Fullerton. Busloads of future teachers would pull up to our campus and Mary would be greeting them, ready to guide them, pointing them in the direction of their lifetime career. In addition to her many talents as an educator, Mary has served as the President of the CSU Fullerton Arboretum. Anything you want to know about plants, just ask Mary! Mary is an unsung heroine. She works behind the scenes, doing good quietly for others. She is much appreciated and to know her and have worked with her is a true privilege.

Marilyn Leuer and Dale Thomas Leuer


Filowitz, Dr. Mark

Associate Dean, College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics

For the past several years, Dr. Mark Filowitz, Associate Dean in the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics, has been focused on ways to improve the retention in the major and graduation rates for STEM transfer students with emphasis on narrowing the achievement gap between traditionally under-represented students (URM’s) and non-URM’s. From 2008-2013 Filowitz, Martin Bonsangue, Rochelle Woods, and Sean Walker partnered with community colleges Santa Ana College and Mt. San Antonio College with marked success in achieving the desired outcomes in an $2.5 million NSF DUE-STEP 1A grant program (TEST:UP-Talent Expansion in Science and Technology- An Urban Partnership). Starting in 2012 CSUF began a partnership with community colleges Cypress College, Citrus College, and Santiago Canyon College under a $6 million DOE (STEM)2   grant building on what was learned in TEST:UP. This grant is currently in its third year and has thrusts of summer research, supplemental instruction, and early warning systems to facilitate STEM transfer student success. Dr. Filowitz was the PI for the TEST:UP grant that concluded in June 2013 and helped to fund the SI program at CSUF with repurposed funds. He is actively a part of the management team on the (STEM)2   grant. Dr. Filowitz is receiving an award in May from the International Center for Supplemental Instruction and University of Missouri-Kansas City for Outstanding Support by a University Administrator.

College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics


Holmes, Alan

Resource Specialist, Nohl Canyon Elementary

Mr. Holmes helped us see our son's unique view of the world through his eyes...and ears. Within a few days of working with our son, he had several creative ideas to help get him to the next level. We learned to use LEGOs to give him a tactile reward and hold up signs instead of repeating verbal instructions. Mr. Holmes works from experience and teaches from the heart--and has made a huge difference in our son's confidence and capabilities. Also, as the only guy at our school he's a fun and fantastic role model for the boys. Thank you, Alan!

Rich and Jennifer Leuer Ramus


Hunter, Dr. Jerome

Distinguished Lecturer, Educational Leadership

Dr. Hunter is an outstanding educational leader who helped establish one of the first educational doctoral programs at the CSU with an emphasis in community college leadership. Most recently he served as the Chancellor for the North Orange County Community College District and has held numerous leadership positions with other educational institutions in Southern California. He is actively involved in the community and willingly serves others to improve the human condition. Dr. Hunter is an excellent role model and mentors students at the Center for Research on Educational Access and Leadership, as well as students in the doctoral and master's program in higher education.

Dr. Dawn Person


Kirtman, Dr. Lisa

Associate Dean, CSUF College of Education

Dr. Kirtman recently accepted the Associate Dean position in the College of Education. Prior to this appointment, Dr. Kirtman served as chair for the Department of Elementary and Bilingual Education, during which time she also assisted the Dean of the College of Education with the Associate Dean duties.  In 2012, Dr. Kirtman served as chair for two departments in the College of Education. Her leadership in both departments, as well as her assistance with the Associate Dean duties speaks to the confidence that our administration has in her ability to guide faculty to achieve the high standards of our college and university. Her unwavering support of the faculty in her departments, along with her commitment to innovative and progressive programs, have provided numerous opportunities for growth and transformation in areas such as technology, math, the arts, engaged scholarship, clinical experiences, and community partnerships.

As an instructional leader in the Department of Elementary and Bilingual Education, Dr. Kirtman supported and encouraged faculty to respond to calls for advancement in STEM education, 21st Century Teaching and Learning, and strengthening partnerships within the community. Technology Boot Camp and the iPad Pilot are two examples of programs that were created and supported under her leadership to ensure that all multiple subject credential candidates are introduced to 21st century skills, digital citizenship, and technology tools to enhance teaching and learning in the classroom. Dr. Kirtman has also collaborated with the Center for Creativity and Critical Thinking (CCCT) and the Segerstrom Center to increase opportunities for art integration in the curriculum. She helped to organize and launch the 21st Century Teaching and Learning workshop series, which provides professional development opportunities in art, critical thinking, and technology for faculty, multiple subject credential candidates, and local classroom teachers. Additionally, she has provided her full support to the development and implementation of the new co-teaching model in the EDEL department. Most recently, Dr. Kirtman was a key leader in the development of the iPad program in which CSUF IT, in collaboration with the department, were able to provide training and class sets of iPads to a local Title One elementary school.

Dr. Kirtman also serves on a number of committees at the college, university, and statewide level. Most recently she was a member of PRBC, chair of the Engaged Scholarship Committee, and a member of the Teacher Preparation Advisory Panel. Other university committees she has served on include: Search Committee member for the Provost, FDC Director Search Committee, Director of Assessment Search Committee, Faculty Affairs Committee, and Academic Senate.

During her years at Cal State Fullerton, Dr. Kirtman has been recognized for her teaching, service, and scholarship. She was the recipient of the Teachers-Scholar Award in 2002, 2005, and 2008 and was honored by the university for her outstanding service in 2006. She has also published twelve articles in peer-reviewed journals and has presented her work at various local, regional, and national conferences.

During a period of reduced enrollment and budget cuts, Dr. Kirtman has encouraged faculty to grow, accept new challenges, and continue to lead the charge. Her dedicated leadership, work ethic and commitment to student learning, coupled with her high expectations and standards, inspire those around her to work harder and grow as educators and scholars.

Dr. Claire Cavallaro


Levinsohn, Judy

Manager, Institute of Leadership Development

Judy Levinsohn has dedicated her life to education; always setting high expectations for students and teachers, holding them accountable, providing support above and beyond the norm, and giving them every opportunity to succeed. As a classroom teacher, principal, Educational Consultant and the current Manager of the Institute of Leadership Development for the Orange County Department of Education, Judy Levinsohn embodies the qualities, characteristics, and heart of what every educator should aspire to in their professional life each day.

Rachelle Cracchiolo, Teacher Created Materials


Manzo, Dr. Ula

Retired Professor, CSUF College of Education

Dr. Ula Manzo’s work as a scholar, professor, and author has helped thousands of teachers develop an untold number of students into better learners, readers, and thinkers. Her popular texts on beginning literacy, content area literacy, and literacy diagnosis and remediation co-authored with her husband, Dr. Anthony Manzo, have been favorites of teachers for decades. An example of this impact was clear at the recent COE Scholarship Award Reception. The mother of one READ MS recipient, who happened to be chairing the Reading Department at Santa Barbara Community College, was so impressed by her daughter’s Manzo text that she ordered copies for her entire faculty and couldn’t say enough about its impact on the instruction on her campus. Ula served as professor and chair of the reading department, helping guide us through accreditation and budget challenges. Her embrace of online learning positioned us for our current success. We will also miss Ula as she segues into the next phase of her career knowing she will continue to make an impact on the lives of teachers and students.

Department of Reading Education Colleagues


Matz, Dr. Irene

Associate Dean, CSUF College of Communications

Dr. Irene Matz, associate dean of the College of Communications, has an exemplary record as an educator and leader at Cal State Fullerton. She was first hired as a part-time lecturer in 1983, then later hired full time and served in many roles before being hired as a tenure-track assistant professor in 2003. Shortly after she earned tenure and the rank of associate professor in 2008, she was named associate dean.

Dr. Matz is an excellent professor and consistently receives outstanding student evaluations in her classes. She serves as a role model to her students, and in spite of the demands of her duties as associate dean, always finds time to meet with and counsel students.

Dr. Matz is not only a valuable leader in the College of Communications, she also has served the university in a number of leadership positions. Included in her long list of educational leadership and service are  Academic Senate member at large and member of the Executive Committee, chair of the President’s Scholars Screening Committee, Coordinator for the University Strategic Planning Committee, and multiple college and university committees. In addition, she has served on search committees across the university.

Dr. Matz’s accomplishments during her 30 years on campus go on and on. She is truly a committed educator and leader and is very deserving of this special honor.

Dr. Rick Pullen, Dean and Professor Emeritus, College of Communications


McDougall, Emily

Teacher, Fullerton School District

We would like to honor Ms. Emily McDougall. She is an amazing teacher. Our son Oscar has thrived and grown in her class. Ms. McDougall has a deep commitment to education and the intellectual empowerment of her students. Kudos, you are fantastic!

Berenecea and Oscar Eanes


Merino, John

Retired Administrator, Orange County Diocese

John Merino is a retired educator and administrator who taught at Mater Dei High School for 45 years.   In 1964, he was named vice-principal, becoming the youngest administrator ever in a Catholic high school of the Los Angeles Archdiocese.  He has filled all administrative roles and even served as principal for Mater Dei’s summer school.  In 1981, he received a Papal Declaration for his 25 years of service to Mater Dei.  His last duties included working on a $28 million dollar fund-raiser to redevelop the high school.  John’s other passions consisted of musicals and moderator for the pep squad.  His senior musicals won several MACY awards while his pep squad won over 20 national championships.

Larry Rovira


Miller, Francie

Part-Time Faculty, English Department, Mt. San Jacinto College 

A truly good educator inspires others to do better, be better, live better.  They are often the person to credit when the career choice "educator" is made by someone they've influenced.  Francie Miller is being honored because she represents this type of educator and deserves to be recognized for her extensive and decorated career in education. Francie Miller has a Bachelor’s degree and Master’s degree in English from Kent State University and California State University, Dominguez Hills, respectively. Prior to her current teaching position at Mt. San Jacinto College, she was Assistant Dean at  Marymount College and recruiter, advisor and faculty at Cal State Dominguez Hills.  Sharing her appreciation of writing and education throughout her career has served her students well.  She is also being honored for teaching her niece, sister and daughter what it means to appreciate diversity, stand up to a challenge, live life on your own terms, and embrace life-long learning.

Aimee Nelson, Patricia Courtois and Sandy Tolhurst


Moynahan, David

David Aloysius Moynahan of Buena Park, Ca. born 12-12-35, passed away on 3-18-14. He was born in St. Louis, grew up in Phoenix Arizona, and served in the Air force during the Korean War. He graduated from ASU in 1962, and was a member of Delta Sigma Phi fraternity.. After marriage to his beloved Kay, he settled in Southern California where he began a distinguished teaching career that spanned 5 decades in the Garden Grove Unified School District and at CSUF as a College of Education University Supervisor. Dave influenced so many with his larger than life passion for teaching and learning and sense of humor. He was beloved by his faculty and students in the schools and also in his devoted work as a Sensei (third degree black belt) in Shorei-Ryu Karate, teaching life lessons to his five sons and his students. He touched countless lives and we honor his life.

Dr. Judy Smith


Neiser, Sally

Principal - Oak Middle School, Los Alamitos USD

When looking for a public middle school for my daughter, Emily, I walked into the office at Oak without an appointment expecting to just be given a packet of information. Instead, I was invited into Ms. Neiser's office and was given a tour of campus. During this impromptu tour, Ms. Neiser interacted with several students, asking one how running club was going, another how an Algebra test went, and yet another about their day. She knew each of these students by name. This was my experience on the first day at Oak Middle School and every subsequent day has been similar. Ms. Neiser demonstrates a level of care for her students as people and as young scholars. She has earned the respect of her staff, the students, and the parents, steering them all through a lengthy and stressful campus renovation project while maintaining a sunny outlook on life and high standards of academic achievement. She is an outstanding leader and educator.

Tara Barnhart


Ngo, Ana

Teacher, Buena Park School District

Mrs. Ana Ngo is a CSUF alumnus, an exceptional teacher, a genuinely kind and caring person and someone I truly admire for her perseverance, positive attitude and her dedication to the teaching profession. The last few years have been difficult ones in the education world, especially here in California with budget cuts having an adverse impact on education and a devastating impact in the lives of many teachers. Ana is one such teacher who has been laid off repeatedly, involuntarily transferred to schools within in the district and changed grade levels numerous times. Despite this she has remained a true professional, a creative and talented teacher, dedicated to her students and at the same time continuing with her education, earning her Masters Degree in Reading from CSUF. In the years that I have known Ana, Ngo, it has been an honor to be her mentor, a colleague and friend. It is my sincere pleasure to be able to see her recognized for all she does.

Leslee Milch, NBCT


Nguyen, Linh

Vice President, Advance Beauty College

Linh has been an educator for over 20 years and has been instrumental in developing 25 educators in the beauty and wellness industry and graduating over 30,000 professionals. She continues to lead two campuses in Garden Grove and Laguna Hills and serve as a role model and industry leader!

Tam Nguyen, Christine Nguyen, Anh Tran, Allen Martinez


Norman, Jody

3rd Grade Teacher, Nohl Canyon Elementary

Mrs. Norman is a WOW teacher. She has made such a huge difference in our son's education and life. He has found his confidence in her class and absolutely loves learning with her. She has also taught us--how to use positive goals for behavior and to help our son become an independent learner. I knew Mrs. Norman was special when she (and several of us in the audience!) teared up during her Back to School night presentation. Her caring for each person (small and big) she encounters is truly touching and inspiring. Thank you Jody!

Rich and Jennifer Leuer Ramus


O’Donnell, Patrick

CSUF Emeriti Faculty, Public Affairs

Patrick O’Donnell‘s long career in photography has embraced several important aspects of the field, including newspaper photojournalist, university photographer and as an educator at Cal State Fullerton and Orange Coast College.

Pat is being saluted at the Honor an Educator event for the years he taught photojournalism in the College of Communications at Cal State Fullerton. His classes were lively and very productive. A number of his students went on to become successful photographers at The Times, Register and other newspapers. If you ask him who his star pupil was, he’ll always tell you it was his wife, Peggy O’Donnell, who has become one of Orange County’s leading freelance photographers, whose clients include major business and cultural organizations.

Before his classroom years, Pat and his camera covered major news events in Orange County for the Daily Pilot. When he left the classroom, he continued to serve Cal State Fullerton as a Public Affairs photographer where he chronicled campus life for many years. As a campus and newspaper photographer, he has photographed Presidents Lyndon Johnson, Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, George H. W. Bush, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush. He photographed Clinton and Bush’43 in the White House as part of ceremonies honoring the College World Series Champion Cal State Fullerton baseball team.

As an instructor, Pat has shared all his life experiences with students who were lucky enough to be in his classes. When a student wondered what it’s like to take pictures of a U.S. president, all he had to do was ask his teacher.

At university events over the years, Pat has photographed the likes of Colin Powell, Walter Cronkite, Bill Crosby, Whoopi Goldberg, Tony Bennet, Dr. Laura Schlessinger, Michael Eisner, Christopher Reeve, Natalie Cole, Michael Eisner, John Lithgow, Kenny Loggins, the Doobie Brothers, Nicholas Cage, James Cameron, Danny Glover, the Dali Llama and astronauts Buzz Aldrin and Tracy Caldwell Dyson.

A large number of his photos taken on campus over the years can be found in The Fullerton Way — 50 Years of Memories at California State University, Fullerton, a campus history by Dr. Lawrence de Graaf.

As a newspaper photographer, Pat has won many photo awards. It all started in high school when his photo of a mournful pooch looking through an open gate took first prize in a Kodak contest for high school students. He was hooked.
His involvement with the Fullerton campus first came in the early 1960s when as a member of the college newspaper staff at Long Beach State, Pat went to the fledgling campus of then Orange County State College to photograph Long Beach’s entry in the elephant races that put the college on the map. One of Pat’s photos of the event is on display in the campus Alumni Lounge.

Over the years, he has served a president of the California Press Photographers Association, the Greater Los Angeles Press Photographers Association and the Orange County Press Club. He was also convention chair for the National Press Photographers meeting in Orange County.

Pat’s collection of presidential photos was the subject of a special exhibit that just concluded at the old Orange County Courthouse in Santa Ana.

When he retired, Pat was granted emeritus status because of his years of teaching and his years spent with Public Affairs.

David Reid


Padgett, Donna

Lecturer, CSUF College of Education

Donna has been guiding students to become better thinkers and learners at CSUF for almost two decades. She has touched the minds, lives, and hearts of thousands of students. They say: “Ms. Padgett rocks!” “She was the best teacher I ever had at CSUF.” “She is so funny and really cares about her students.” Her student athletes recognized her as Faculty of the Year – the highest award student athletes can give a professor. She has immeasurably enriched the lives of her students and fellow faculty members with her gracious, generous, and joyful self. We will miss her as she kayaks, paints, writes, and creates her way through a well-deserved retirement.

Department of Reading Education Colleagues


Person, Dawn

Director of the Center for Research on Educational Access and Leadership

This year we celebrate the Center for Research on Educational Access and Leadership’s (C-REAL) 5th anniversary, and five years of research-based solutions focused on decreasing the achievement gap. As the Director of the center, Dr. Dawn Person serves as an educator and role model for us all. Under Dr. Person’s guidance, C-REAL works to increase access to all students, and her mission provides us the opportunity to engage in meaningful research that directly impacts current and future educational practices and policies. The nature of C-REAL also influences our own perspectives regarding educational equality, and Dr. Person motivates us to address educational issues in a practical data based manner. In addition, the center provides an environment to develop students into professionals through hands-on experience in research and evaluation. We would like to use this opportunity to demonstrate our appreciation for all of the work that she undertakes in order to keep her students and the center flourishing.

The staff and students of C-REAL


Phillips, Carmen

After School Programs Coordinator

Learning occurs in many facets outside the time of “eight-to-three” when kids are in their regular classes and no one knows this better than Carmen Phillips. A former elementary school principal, Carmen has taken on the challenging, fun, and ever-changing dynamic of running the After School Program for the Alvord Unified School District for the past seven years. She continuously improves the engagement and learning environment for her students and it is with great pride we recognize Carmen for her tireless efforts in leading and managing such an effective program for Alvord Unified School District.

Rachelle Cracchiolo, Teacher Created Materials


Rovira, Theresa Kawase

Teacher, Walnut Valley Unified School District

Theresa Kawase Rovira is in her 24th year teaching second grade at Maple Hill Elementary in the Walnut Valley School District. In 2009, she was named one of Walnut Valley’s teachers of the year, while also receiving special recognition from the California State Assembly for her exemplary service to education. As a mentor to several student teachers over the years, Theresa tries to summon the same enthusiasm, smile and pride from her student teachers as she brings each and every day to her classroom. A 1988 graduate of Cal State Fullerton, and dedicated alumnus, a scholarship was endowed in her name in order to help future teachers in their mission to become an educator.

Larry Rovira


Sadler, Lori

Lecturer, Department of Special Education, Cal State Fullerton

In addition to teaching and supervising student teachers, Lori Sadler has been the Admissions Coordinator and Student Teaching Placement Coordinator for the past five years in the Department of Special Education. An alumna of the department, Lori is dedicated, organized, and the first positive contact that prospective students have prior to being admitted. Students continue to rave about her kindness, patience, and helpfulness. Lori truly makes a difference in the lives of the students in the department and we feel incredibly lucky to have her be such an important part of our success. Thank you, Lori, for your amazing devotion to your job! We are extremely grateful that you are a part of our team.

Dr. Melinda Pierson


Sanchez, Tracy

Early Childhood Special Education Teacher, Anaheim Unified School District

Tracy earned her Early Childhood Special Education credential in 2010 from CSUF. She has worked tirelessly towards including young children with disabilities with their typical peers. She earned her Masters of Science degree from CSUF in 2012. Tracy is an educator who demonstrates leadership and passion for teaching all children. In addition, Tracy is involved in the Orange County Special Olympics as a very active volunteer.    

Dr. Janice Myck-Wayne


Siegrist, Dr. Ruth May

Retired Professor, CSU Fullerton Department of Reading Education

It gives me great pleasure to officially honor Dr. Ruth Siegrist, the educator, mentor and friend who made a remarkable difference in my academic and professional life because of her teaching strategies in Reading. As a youngster and young adult, I hated to read. When I transferred from a community college in 1972 to CSU Fullerton, I finally recognized I had a reading problem. During my first semester, I enrolled in Ruth’s Reading Development course where I discovered I was reading at 7th   grade level. She took me under her wing and guided me and other students struggling to understand content of college texts through the use of a controlled reader and tachistoscope training. She also taught us various techniques to develop our vocabulary. Her patience, dedication and steady encouragement in the classroom helped shape my overall success in life through the power of reading. I owe her a debt of gratitude.

Regina Holman


Takacs, Linda

Principal, Rancho Starbuck Intermediate School, Lowell Joint District 

Linda Takacs is the principal at Rancho Starbuck Intermediate School in the Lowell Joint School District.  Under the leadership of Mrs. Takacs and her colleagues, Rancho Starbuck has become a truly exemplary school marked by its commitment to holistic student learning and development.  This commitment begins in the classroom with high standards for academic achievement that are coupled with faculty and staff support programs for students that begin long before the school day starts in the morning and that extend well into the evening.  What's more, the school motto -- "If it is to be, it is up to me" -- and the REACH program (Responsibility, Effort, Attitude, Character, Honor) reflect a commitment by Mrs. Takacs and everyone at the school to ensure that students' development extends to every aspect of students' lives.  The motto and the REACH program are themes that are evident in everything the school does including classes, award programs, disciplinary responses, co-curricular programs, and crisis response.  Most importantly, they are evident in the lives of students who graduate from Rancho Starbuck well-prepared not only for high school, but for lives of citizenship.

Dr. Joy Hoffman and Dr. John Hoffman


Thomas, Carie

Kindergarten Teacher, Acacia Elementary School

Outstanding work with kindergarten students and outstanding family support. Mrs. Thomas's efforts to make each and every child feel included in kindergarten and to make parents feel comfortable with their children's first year at public school are an inspiration.

Sharon and Drew Chappell


Uranga, Yvonne

Early Childhood Special Education, Inclusion Teacher, Santa Ana Unified School District

Yvonne earned her early childhood special education credential in May of 2011. She was an IDREEAM scholar who has become an advocate of supporting inclusion opportunities for all young children with disabilities as well as supporting developmentally appropriate practices in the early childhood setting. Yvonne will earn her Masters of Science degree in Spring of 2014. She is the founder and past-president of the CSUF organization Early Childhood Intervention Matters (ECIM).

Dr. Janice Myck-Wayne


Vazquez, Juan

President, Santiago Canyon Community College

It is indeed a pleasure for me to honor my colleague and friend, Juan Vazquez, President of Santiago Canyon Community College in Orange, California. President Vazquez is an outstanding educator who has given more than 12 years of excellent leadership to the Rancho Santiago Community College District and 40 years to the community college system in California. He plans to retire in August 2014.

Juan Vazquez’s life story is inspirational. Raised in the projects of Spanish Harlem in NYC, he saw education as the way out of poverty and the path to achieve a fulfilling life of service. Juan earned his bachelor’s degree in philosophy from City University of New York. Moving to California, he served as a VISTA volunteer in the 1960s teaching English as a second language to Spanish-speaking Mexican immigrants.

Juan earned a master’s degree in Reading Education here at California State University, Fullerton and taught on the faculty for two years as instructor in the Reading Program. He then went to College of Alameda as an instructor and then served as Dean and Vice President before coming to Santiago Canyon Community College as President in 2002.

“President Vazquez has been an excellent leader for Santiago Canyon College during some difficult years for community colleges in California,” said Raúl Rodríguez, Ph.D., chancellor of Rancho Santiago Community College District (RSCCD). “Despite budget cuts that drastically impacted our colleges beginning in 2007, Juan kept SCC moving forward. Under his leadership, SCC has become a comprehensive community college with significant growth in enrollment.”

Since 2002, SCC has received recognition on the national, regional and local level. In 2005,   Community College Week   ranked SCC as second of the fastest growing community colleges nationwide with an enrollment of 10,000 or more. In 2009, the college came in as number four in the   Community College Week   ranking of fastest growing community colleges with an enrollment of 10,000 or more. Today the college has an enrollment each semester of nearly 14,000 students in its credit and non-credit programs.

Also active in volunteer community services and environmental groups, President Vazquez has made a lasting impact in education and service in Orange County and the state of California. It is fitting to honor him at his alma mater on this occasion.

Ruth May Siegrist, Ph.D.


Walker, Sean

Professor, CSUF College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics

Dr. Sean Walker is a professor in the Department of Biological Science. He received his B.S. degree Behavioral Ecology at the University of Lethbridge in Alberta, Canada, his M.S. degree in Zoology at Miami University, and his Ph.D. in Chemistry at the University of Texas. Dr. Walker was the pioneer of SI in bottleneck courses in biology that started in 2007. He is currently the Vice Chair of the Department of Biological Science and Chair of the Academic Senate. He has mentored numerous undergraduate students in research programs  he was one of the Google Faculty Fellows for 2011-2012 working to incorporate technology training for pre-service teachers and the university faculty who teach them, and has edited and reviewed for numerous peer reviewed journals in his field.

College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics


Williams, Johnny

Retired-Principal, RSCCD-Middle College High School

Mr. Williams graduated from CSU Fullerton with a master’s in Education in 1974. He is the person who encouraged me to seek my first job as a Community College Instructor. He has served as an Assistant Principal, Guidance Counselor, Site Administrator, Director of attendance, and teacher of the Trainable Mentally Retarded. He is involved with numerous community organizations and serves on the Deacon Board of Second Baptist Church of Santa Ana.

Dr. Jerome Hunter


Woods, Dr. Rochelle

Director of Student Academic Services, CSUF

Dr. Rochelle Woods is the Director of the Student Academic Services group in Student Affairs. She received her B.A. degree at the University of Akron, her M.A. degree in Student Personnel Administration at Ball State University, and her Ed.D. in Higher Education at USC. Dr. Woods was part of the early efforts to support SI through grants as Assistant Dean with NSM and as Interim Director of the University Learning Center. The newly created SI Coordinator team led by Trista O’Connell is part of her group in Student Academic Services. Dr. Woods was a co-PI for the NSF TEST:UP grant that helped to support SI before funding was institutionalized. She took the lead in getting the Chancellor’s office funding of the SI program that is now part of our baseline budget.

College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics