Cal State Fullerton’s Honor An Educator Awards recognized and celebrated educators in the community Sunday at the TSU Pavilions.
“Teachers in particular aren’t recognized for all the hard work they do, so here is an opportunity for us to say, ‘Thank you for all that (they) do and all the difference that (they) make in the community,’” said Lisa Kirtman, dean of the College of Education at CSUF.
The recognized educators worked hard in their fields as their way of giving back to the community even though it was not always reflected in their salary, Kirtman said.
“If we do not have strong teachers that do not have high morale and feel good about what they do, then we do not have anything,” Kirtman said.
During opening remarks, Assemblywoman Sharon Quirk-Silva discussed her experiences in education. As an advocate for public education, Quirk-Silva encouraged all to support it since she said the stories of devoted leaders in education were often lacking in the media.
“We don’t always see those stories portrayed in our newspapers, on our media, so it’s our job to be that voice,” Quirk-Silva said.
Quirk-Silva said this is a “terrifying” time for many students, especially those potentially affected by the current immigration policies. In such circumstances, she said teachers could play an important role in a student’s life.
“When children misbehave, there’s a reason. Dig deep and find out why and that hug or that note to a parent can change a child’s life,” Quirk-Silva said.
The event recognized many educators who were honored by friends or colleagues. Professors from CSUF that were recognized included Ding-Jo Currie and Ronald Oliver, who were both honored by the CSUF Department of Educational Leadership, and William Hoese, who was honored by the CSUF College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics.
Kirtman also honored her mother, Dianne Haydel-Lewis, who started as a classroom teacher and worked her way up to being a site administrator for child development centers.
In both positions, Haydel-Lewis educated and inspired thousands of students who were often marginalized as underachievers, Kirtman said.
“As an educator myself, I learned from her that commitment matters, heart matters, but most importantly, that students matter,” Kirtman said. “As my mother, she was my first and best teacher and the reason I understand the importance of what it means to be an educator that makes a difference.”
Recipients of the Distinguished Alumni of the Year award were CSUF alumnae Heather Bosworth and Leslie Hiatt. The Distinguished Education Partner award went to CSUF alumna Kristin S. Crellin.
The ceremony ended with Joan S. Bissell being awarded the Distinguished Education Leadership award. Hiatt said she dedicated the award to her students at Bell Gardens Elementary School in the Montebello Unified School District.
“I feel very honored, but I totally share it with my students,” Hiatt said. “I love teaching. I love what I do. I’ve always wanted to be a teacher and really seriously I’m not tired of it one bit.”