At an awards dinner held at Vista del Monte on May 15, the California Retired Teachers Association (CRTA) awarded scholarships to three outstanding graduate students from UC Santa Barbara’s Gevirtz School. Erica Sommermann is the recipient of the Anne Scales Scholarship for a Single Subject Teacher credential candidate and Heather Blackley and Loreina Becerra are the recipients of the Laura E. Settle Scholarship for Multiple Subject Teacher credential candidates and the Moderate/Severe Special Education credential program, respectively. All three students are Masters Degree candidates in the Teacher Education program at the Gevirtz School. Sommermann will receive a scholarship gift of $2,000, while Blackley and Becerra will share the $2,000 Settle Scholarship.
Erica Sommermann, a Single Subject (Science) Teacher credential candidate, had worked as a teaching assistant at Stanford University and UC Santa Barbara, volunteered in classrooms in La Colina Junior High, and worked as a substitute teacher at Laguna Blanca School prior to entering into the Teacher Education Program. In her letter of application for the scholarship she wrote, “A key component of good teaching is creating a stimulating environment that stretches students’ understanding of what they are capable of in all areas of their lives and to help them discover their own passions. With this in mind I try hard to make my science classroom a place where students can experience life and greater liveliness of thought and imagination.”
Prior to attending UC Santa Barbara, Heather Blackley had taught English to Mexican college students and served two terms in AmeriCorps, a network of national service programs that engage Americans in intensive service to meet the nation’s critical needs in education, public safety, health, and the environment. During that time she designed an after-school program in Monterey for children who lived at a transitional homeless shelter for survivors of domestic violence. In her letter of application for the scholarship she claimed, “My first career goal is to teach in a low-income (perhaps bilingual) school, constantly learning and growing to become the best teacher that I can be.”
Loreina Becerra is a graduate of UCSB with a degree in Sociology and Chicano Studies. She, too, started the Teacher Education Program with much experience, having worked at Devereux Santa Barbara for three years, as a therapist in a private home with a boy with autism, and in a special education class at Kellogg Elementary School. “I would like to take what I have learned back to my community in Pacoima [in the San Fernando Valley] and participate in the inclusive movement,” Becerra wrote in her scholarship application. “I would eventually like to start a non-profit organization that provides consist parent education, tutors, support services, and interventions to the communities of low income families of children with disabilities.”
Anne Scales, after whom the Single Subject Teacher credential candidate scholarship is named, was a counselor at Santa Barbara High School for 32 years prior to her retirement. Scales believes that it is important for a teacher to have an enthusiasm for life and teachers should bring a broad base of interests and experiences into the classroom. In an interview she commented that teachers “should not only teach, but also be interested in helping young people.”
Recipients of the Laura E. Settle Scholarships must not only have outstanding academic records but also a record of exemplary character and citizenship.
The awards dinner was attended by more than 60 persons including members of the Santa Barbara chapter of the CRTA, friends and family of the recipients, and Dean Jane Close Conoley and Ann Lippincott, representing the Gevirtz Graduate School of Education and the Teacher Education Program, respectively. Other scholarship recipients of the evening included Sonia Castaneda, a graduating senior at Carpinteria High School; Celia Reyna, a graduating senior at Dos Pueblos High School; Melody Wang, a graduating senior at San Marcos High School; Consuelo (Cece) Quevedo, a graduating senior at Santa Barbara High School; and Luís Naranjo and Lisette Williford, who are currently attending Santa Barbara City College. All have chosen to pursue education as a career path.