- Alisal Union School District
Norma Garcia -- Alisal USD Teacher of the Year
Alisal Union School District Teacher of the Year
Growing up as a migrant student, Ms. Norma García was often called upon to help translate for other students whose English language skills were not as strong. Later, when she was taking her general education requirements at Hartnell College, she was also teaching Catechism at a labor camp every Saturday, while also working as a teacher’s aide at a preschool. Little by little, Ms. García discovered she had an aptitude for teaching, and when it came time to transfer to a four-year college, she had made up her mind to follow a career in education.
“I was always around kids. I like kids, I like helping them, and I've been doing it since then,” she said.
Ms. García, a veteran teacher at Alisal Community School, was recently named Alisal Union School District Teacher of the Year, a recognition that was earned for over twenty years of selfless dedication to her students, according to administrators.
“She’s a teacher who’s passionate about student achievement and the whole needs of our children,” said Ricardo Cabrera, Associate Superintendent of Human Resources. “She takes her profession seriously, and she is a person who collaborates well with others, who works extremely hard without expecting anything in return. That’s why this recognition was somewhat of a surprise (to her) because she’ does her job without expecting anything in return. She’s been doing this for over 20 years and she’s been consistent in always having high expectations of herself, of her colleagues and of her students.”
Ms. García earned a bachelor’s degree in liberal studies from Fresno State University, and her teaching credential from San José State University. She began working at Alisal Community School in 1995, where she continues to teach. She’s been teaching third grade since 2014.
Ms. García deeply believes teachers have the power to shape their students lives and a responsibility to help each one of them find their path and passion in life.
She keeps tabs on her students’ progress by constantly checking in on them, not just through data but through personal contact.
“It's a constant effort, not just on paper and pencil but by checking in with the students and talking to them in the classroom so you can see if they're understanding or not. Some kids are not successful with pencil and paper because they’re not there yet. But if you talk to them, you can see they're getting something,” she said.
While most students will learn content easily, others may take a little longer but by checking in with them orally, Ms. García makes sure the students are engaged and don’t feel left out. She also uses different technologies to expand her teaching toolkit.
“We used technology to research articles about parks, then the park ranger came in to make a presentation. That way you know students who can’t read (yet) are getting all that information and are participating and interacting,” she said.
“Mrs. García has strong relationships with her students. She shows that she cares about them and their learning...and the students rise to the expectations," said Mrs. Elizabeth Armenta, principal of Alisal Community School.
“Each one of my kids drives me, and each one has their own need, and trying to figure out what those needs are drives me; you can't expect every child to fit a mold,” Ms. García said. “For instance, when you think about the common core, not all students are going to master it immediately, so you need to find a way to reach those kids. Every kid will be a part of this world and you need to find a way to help them connect, understand, and be able to function in this society. They need to feel they can be something.”
Ms. García was notified of her award on April 2 by Superintendent Hector Rico and his cabinet. Congratulations, Ms. García. Thanks for all you do for our students.