Honor an Educator Awards

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


2019 Distinguished Award Recipients


Hagan, Dr. Willie J – 2019 Distinguished Education Leadership Award

President Hagan is the recently retired chief executive officer of California State University, Dominguez Hills, the most culturally diverse institution in the country’s largest senior system of public higher education. Established in 1960 and located in the South Bay Region of Los Angeles, the Dominguez Hills campus enrolls more than 15,000 students and awards more than 3,000 undergraduate and graduate degrees each year.

President Hagan previously served at California State University, Fullerton where his 16-year tenure in a number of senior leadership positions, including Vice President for Administration and Chief Financial Officer, culminated in his appointment as the university’s Interim President.

Before joining California State University, Fullerton, Dr. Hagan served as Associate Vice President for Administration at the University of Connecticut (UCONN) and as a lobbyist at the state and federal level for both UCONN and the Connecticut Board of Governors for Higher Education.

A first-generation college student, President Hagan’s journey is a testament to the transformative power of education and an inspiration to the students he now serves. He holds a doctorate in psychology from the University of Connecticut and a Master of Fine Arts from UCLA.


Rosenberg, Paola Yuribe, ’08, ’17 – 2019 Distinguished Alumni of the Year Award

Paola Yuribe Rosenberg has been an educator for nine years. She currently teaches honors biology at John F. Kennedy High in the Anaheim Union High School District (AUHSD). Prior to joining AUHSD, Rosenberg served as a teaching intern at Hayward Unified School District working with predominantly migrant populations.

Rosenberg has an extensive educational background dating back to her time at Cal State Fullerton where she was awarded a B.S. in Biology with a minor in Chemistry. She furthered her education at CSUF, receiving a M.S. in Secondary Education along with a bilingual authorization. Rosenberg continues to build upon her experience and training as she works to obtain National Board Certification.

Rosenberg is passionate about providing quality education to all students, regardless of language or country of origin. Because of this, she has served on numerous committees which have been the recipients of both local and national grants, including the Migrant Student Leadership Institute (MSLI), Chapman-Anaheim Science Partnership (CASP), and Reading Apprenticeship Improving Secondary Education (RAISE).

Perhaps her most ambitious endeavor, Rosenberg previously worked on Transforming Academic and Cultural Identity through Biliteracy (TACIB). This grant, funded by the National Science Foundation and in partnership with AUHSD, the Discovery Science Center, and Anaheim City School District, allows Rosenberg the opportunity to improve both the academic and personal lives of students through integrated dual-language/dual-immersion strategies in predominantly Latino communities. Through this grant, Rosenberg has worked with esteemed CSUF faculty Dr. Mark Ellis and Dr. Armando Martinez-Cruz to advance student achievement in elementary school as it relates to mathematics and science.

Additionally, Rosenberg has acted as a vital member of the Summer Language Academy (SLA). As part of the SLA, Rosenberg worked with numerous educators, including creative directors Dr. Alison Dover and Dr. Fernando Rodriguez-Valls, to help assimilate immigrant students into AUHSD. These students, including Syrian refugees and immigrants from Asia and Central America, represent a wide-range of learners with varying levels of performance across multiple grade levels. With Rosenberg’s help, the SLA has developed into a vital academic enrichment program focused on helping migrant students discover their identity, develop their voice, and speak up for student needs.

Rosenberg looks to continue her educational path by pursuing a Ph.D. in Education. She is currently working with SLA as a teacher consultant tasked with creating curriculum which best meets the needs of the newcomer population in Anaheim and neighboring communities


Turner, Dr. Scott , ’07, ’09, ’18 – 2019 Distinguished Alumni of the Year Award

Dr. Scott Turner began his undergraduate studies in 2002 at California State University, Fullerton (CSUF). Following his childhood aspirations of becoming a police officer, he majored in Criminal Justice with a minor in Sociology. During his junior year of undergraduate studies, Dr. Turner started as an instructional assistant for the Corona-Norco Unified School District, a position and life-changing experience that would drastically alter his career course.

Before graduating with his Bachelor of Arts, Dr. Turner was accepted to CSUF’s On Track Transition to Teaching grant program. Through the On-Track program, Dr. Turner completed his prerequisites, interviewed and was offered a teaching position in Santa Ana USD as an Intern Early Childhood Special Education Specialist. Dr. Turner taught in Santa Ana USD at Mitchell Child Development Center from 2007- 2012, while continuing at CSUF to clear his teaching credential, complete his Master of Science in Special Education, and earn his Administrative Services Credential.

Dr. Turner accepted a K-12 Program Specialist position in Saddleback Valley Unified School District in 2012. He was later promoted to the position of Special Education Site Specialist where he led Saddleback Valley USD’s Early Childhood Special Education programs, serving more than 400 students from ages Birth-5. In 2015, Dr. Turner was appointed as the Special Education Local Plan Area (SELPA) Director for South Orange County SELPA, serving Saddleback Valley USD and Laguna Beach USD with a combined attendance of more than 30,000 students.

Since 1977, California Education Code has required all school districts to form geographic consortiums by becoming a member of a SELPA. SELPAs are responsible for the allocation of state and federal special education funding and ensuring that districts have sufficient size and scope in meeting the needs of all students with disabilities.

Dr. Turner began in CSUF’s P-12 Educational Leadership Doctoral Program in 2015, completing quantitative research of the relationship between teacher-held mental models towards inclusion and recommendations for regular early childhood programs. During this time, Dr. Turner continued to serve as the Chair of the SELPA Administrators of California’s Early Childhood Committee, meeting regularly with the California Department of Education in an effort to improve the educational outcomes and inclusive learning opportunities for preschool age students with disabilities.

In 2018, Dr. Turner was appointed as the Executive Director of the East San Gabriel Valley SELPA. The East San Gabriel Valley SELPA has 10 Unified School Districts and 4 Charter School Local Educational Agencies, serving approximately 100,000 students and more than 12,500 students with disabilities. Dr. Turner’s dissertation chair was Dr. Janice Myck-Wayne, one of the many professors whom advised Dr. Turner in his early years in the CSUF Department of Education. Dr. Turner successfully defended his dissertation in May 2018.


Orange Unified School District – 2019 Distinguished Education Excellence Award

Established in 1953, Orange Unified School District serves approximately 28,000 students in grades kindergarten through 12 and encompasses 108 square miles covering the cities of Anaheim, Garden Grove, Orange, Santa Ana, and Villa Park. OUSD is home to 26 elementary schools - including two featuring dual language immersion programs, with a third to launch for the 2019-2020 school year - five middle schools, four high schools, a continuation high school, a K-8 math, science, and technology magnet school, and five specialized programs to address the diverse needs of our student population. District schools have been recognized with numerous accolades, including the California Gold Ribbon, California Distinguished School, National Blue Ribbon School, Title I Academic Achievement, California Model Continuation School, Civic Learning Model School, and Golden Bell Awards, in addition to being recognized by National Schools to Watch, Apple, NAMM and the Confucius Institute.

OUSD continues to support expanded Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math (STEAM) experiences, career pathway offerings, a comprehensive college preparatory curriculum, and supplementary learning opportunities. A partnership between OUSD and the College Board makes it possible for all OUSD high school students to take the SAT and PSAT exams and access free online resources and a personalized study plan through the College Board’s own partnership with Khan Academy. Additionally, dual college enrollment classes allow students to earn college credit at Santiago Canyon College at no cost.

Thanks to the community’s passing of the Measure S bond initiative, OUSD is currently modernizing each of the district’s four comprehensive high schools and constructing state-of-the-art science centers. Orange Unified has also invested additional funds to improve school athletic facilities. From new playing fields and all-weather tracks, to tennis courts and new learning spaces, OUSD is dedicated to supporting excellence in education for all students and pride in Orange Unified schools community-wide.


SchoolsFirst Federal Credit Union – 2019 Distinguished Education Community Partner Award

Federal Credit Union began as Orange County Teachers Credit Union in 1934—not a good year to start a business, but a most appropriate time to help others. Our founders were 126 school employees who pooled $1,200 to improve the financial lives of those with a common bond of education.

Since our founding, we have remained committed to our mission: To provide World-Class Personal Service and financial security to our Members. We exist to serve employees of eligible public and private schools, community colleges, universities, school districts and education foundations throughout California. Immediate family members of existing Members are also welcome to join.

Today, SchoolsFirst FCU serves more than 860,000 Members with a full range of financial products and services. We are the largest credit union in California and the largest serving the educational community in the nation, with more than $15.2 billion in assets, 50 branches and more than 28,000 fee-free ATMs through the shared credit union CO-OP Network.

Members benefit from our highly competitive products and services, low- to no-fees and our financial advisors who can help them plan for a secure financial future. We support our local and educational communities through donations, scholarships, financial literacy programs and more.

School employees have a noble purpose, one that never fails to humble and amaze us. Thanks to their dedicated and tireless work, school employees are helping build the future for others. At SchoolsFirst FCU, we are here to help school employees build their future.


Alcala, Kathryn and Murow, Danika

Honored by the McGill Family

Kathryn Alcala and Danika Murow are a dynamic duo, serving as second grade team teachers at Olinda Elementary in the Brea Olinda Unified School District. They are honored for their dedication to their students and advocacy for teachers who are parents. As mothers of young children, Kathryn and Danika have worked together to share the classroom while balancing the joys of motherhood and have set an example for other co-teaching opportunities in their district. Known for making technology learning fun, each educator helps their students create and embrace new and exciting forms of tech for the future.


Avina, Tanya 

Honored by Dr. Debra S. Ambrosetti

After graduating from the Cal State Fullerton credential program, Tanya Avina completed her master’s degree (Carr Fellow ’06) and served in a variety of leadership roles at an intermediate school site. She spent 12 years in the classroom teaching English Language Arts (ELA) and she served on a variety of curriculum teams and served as the ELA chair for five years before transitioning to a district role. As a 7-12 District Teacher on Special Assignment, Tanya’s role expanded to supporting new teachers, the AVID program for 10 intermediate school sites and seven high schools as the AVID Co-District Leader, and as school site instructional coach. She also created and provided professional development in the areas of instructional strategies that support district initiatives. One accomplishment that she is most proud of is having three sites achieve AVID National Demonstration status, and the first school district to have three.


Bono, Dr. Katherine and Seidman, Dr. Sharon 

Honored by Dr. Melinda Pierson and Dr. Janice Myck-Wayne

Dr. Katherine Bono and Dr. Sharon Seidman have worked tirelessly to support the new Integrated Teacher Education Program in a collaboration between the Department of Child and Adolescent Studies and the Department of Special Education. This partnership will support community college transfer students entering Cal State Fullerton as they complete their bachelor's degree and Education Specialist credential in four years. We thank them for their enthusiasm, knowledge, and sense of humor!


Coburn, Susan 

Honored by the McGill Family

With boundless energy, fun, and humor, Susan Coburn’s third grade students at Olinda Elementary School are excited to come to class each day to learn. Susan challenges her students to try their best and encourages individualism. Not only does Susan share her spirit and fun with her own students, she also leads the school-wide honor choir and student council programs during and after school.  She was also recently selected as Olinda Elementary’s Teacher of the Year!


Dixon, Belinda 

Honored by the McGill Family

Belinda Dixon is a first grade teacher at Olinda Elementary School in the Brea Olinda Unified School District. Ellie and Avery McGill nominated Mrs. Dixon for her kindness, patience, and her love of a good joke. Through her humor and unwavering positivity, she is able to skillfully calm squirrely six-year-olds and challenge discouraged early readers to find a book that they love. A former BOUSD Teacher of the Year, Belinda has been praised by students for instilling the love of reading and math in young minds.  She sets the stage early on for success in education for each of her students and they know that she is ready to help them overcome challenges and be the best they can be at school.


Eldred, Jean 

Honored by the McGill Family

Jean Eldred shares with her students an important lesson at the beginning of each year, “We are all a work in progress. We make mistakes.” This lesson guides her teaching of fourth-grade at Olinda Elementary School and provides her students the ability to experiment, take risks, and solve problems without the fear of not being perfect. Known for her interactive and cool science lessons and genius hour projects, Jean challenges her students to think outside the box and come up with their own ideas and thoughts. Through her empowerment of each student, she allows her fourth-graders to grow personally and academically throughout the year and helps them find their strengths in and outside the classroom.


Grant, Dr. Maria 

Honored by Dean Lisa Kirtman

Dr. Maria Grant has been selected as the 2019 College of Education Distinguished Faculty Member because of her record of excellence in the areas of teaching, scholarship and service throughout her tenure at Cal State Fullerton. Dr. Grant spent 20 years in K-12 education as a middle school and high school teacher. Since arriving at Cal State Fullerton in 2005, she has had a sustained record of high quality teaching. In addition, she has co-authored seven books, written 10 book chapters and published over 18 articles on the topics of science literacy, reading in the content areas, and close reading. Dr. Grant is currently the Director of the Single Subject Credential Program. Dr. Grant has been a model faculty member who has served the College of Education as an outstanding teacher, leader, scholar, mentor and colleague.


Gutierrez Keeton, Dr. Rebecca 

Honored by Dr. Dawn Person

Dr. Rebecca Gutierrez Keeton is an outstanding administrator, scholar and teacher. She has served as a leader in the Cal State University System for thirty years at Cal Poly Pomona and here at Cal State Fullerton. Most recently, Rebecca transitioned into a faculty role in the Department of Educational Leadership in the College of Education. She has already left her imprint as the program coordinator for the Masters of Science in Higher Education. Her many gifts include systems analyses, student development, strategic planning, first generation student programs, and technology and diversity training. She is known for her empathic commitment to students from undeserved communities, and is joyful in her work and professional endeavors. A special honor for Rebecca has been the opportunity to implement an annual educational fair and outreach program in her home community.


Hatchel, Dr. Julie 

Honored by Dr. Ronald Oliver

Dr. Julie Hatchel received her BA, MS, and Doctorate of Educational Leadership from Cal State Fullerton. Dr. Hatchel has served with distinction in a multitude of roles including positions at the elementary and middle school level, Assistant Principal, Principal, Chief Communications Officer/Executive Director of Administrative Services, Assistant Superintendent and as an Adjunct Professor in the Master’s programs at Hope International University and Brandman/Chapman University. She is currently serving as an Adjunct Professor in the Cal State Fullerton Educational Doctorate Program. Her many awards include being an Edwin Carr Fellow Recipient (CSUF), Teacher of the Year, and a PTA Honorary Award. What makes Dr. Hatchel an outstanding educator and contributor to the teaching profession is her strong commitment to students, teachers, peers and the stakeholders she is involved with at any given moment.


Lojero, Octavio 

Honored by Aaron Lopez

When thinking of Octavio Lojero’s service, the term unsung hero comes to mind. He is a first generation college graduate, son of immigrant parents, a teacher at his alma mater, Garey High School in Pomona, and lives in the community where he teaches. He imparts real life skills to his students and inspires them to become self-sufficient adults. Many of his former students have returned and credited him for their success and the drive he has instilled in them. In the span of his teaching career he has served as wrestling coach, golf coach, social studies department chair, taught special education, run the school website, documented major school events, football announcer, and has even DJ’d a school dance or two. He has also mentored and influenced countless student teachers and new teachers such as Aaron.


Nguyet Vo, Nikki 

Honored by Advance Beauty College

Nikki Nguyet Vo was born in Vietnam and immigrated to the United States in 2010 where she immediately joined Advance Beauty College as a cosmetology student. Nikki received her cosmetology license in 2012 and a year later embarked on the teacher training course in Cosmetology to pursue her passion of teaching in the industry she loves. She joined the Advance Beauty College Faculty in 2013 as an instructor for the manicuring program. While sharing her knowledge by day as an educator, she worked evenings in a salon gaining valuable work experience. In 2018, Nikki became a US Citizen and a licensed barber. Her commitment to education, passion for her students and exemplary dedication to the industry makes her an industry hero.  Her remarkable accomplishments continue to inspire, educate and give back to the students of Advance Beauty College.


Platt, Tammie 

Honored by Dr. Kim Case

Tammie Platt teaches transitional kindergarten at Bryant Ranch Elementary in the Placentia Yorba Linda Unified School District. She has also served as a mentor teacher for several teacher candidates within the Multiple Subject Credential Program at Cal State Fullerton including my own daughter this past fall. I am so grateful that my daughter was mentored by one of the best! Each and every one of her teacher candidates have expressed their sincere gratitude for the time that Tammie dedicated to helping them to develop their teaching skills.


Stewart, Natalie 

Honored by the Sieven Family

Natalie Stewart is currently a Kindergarten/Transitional Kindergarten teacher at Killybrooke Elementary in the Newport Mesa Unified School District.  Beloved by her students, both past and present, Natalie motivates and inspires her students to be active learners, curious thinkers, and kind citizens.  Natalie takes the time to get to know each of her students, recognizing their strengths, supporting their weaknesses and encouraging them to take risks that promote their learning and growth. Deeply committed to her students’ success, Natalie provides her young students with a welcoming and secure environment that enables their smooth transition into elementary school life.  Through thoughtful instruction and an unwavering dedication to student success, Natalie supports the academic, social and emotional development of her students.


Tafulu, Carina 

Honored by Advance Beauty College

Carina Tafulu was born and raised in Palm Springs, CA and at a young age she found her passion in hair and decided to pursue a career in Cosmetology. For 16 years, she has completely immersed herself and shared her talents with the industry. Six years ago, she decided she wanted to give back and inspire future professionals and completed her teaching certification and has been with Advance Beauty College since then. Her remarkable accomplishments continue to inspire, educate and give back to the students of Advance Beauty College.


Williamson, Stephanie 

Honored by Teacher Created Materials

Education has been the heart of Stephanie Williamson’s work for 26 years, and her passion for helping teachers and students continues to grow. Twenty-two of those 26 years have been with the Buena Park School District.  In 2016, Stephanie left the classroom to become a District Teacher on Special Assignment supporting the Educational Services Department. Her major focus is Balanced Literacy and Responsive Teaching. To date, that role has been her greatest joy.  Stephanie is honored that teachers allow her into their classrooms to do demonstration lessons and provide support.  It is only through the encouragement and support of her family, Fred, Kole, and Mara that she is able to achieve her dream of helping students and teachers strive to reach their personal best.