San Diego – The two teachers named Teachers of the Year at San Diego Independent School District have more than 20 years of teaching experience under their belt.
The 2016 Secondary Teacher of the Year is Pamela Garcia, theatre arts teacher.
Garcia grew up in South Texas where one could still find discrimination and racism. Growing up teachers made her feel invisible as some teachers exhibited unexpected behavior towards minority students.
“There were the other teachers that didn't see skin color or poverty,” Garcia wrote in her teacher of the year biography. “My teachers inspired me to become the teacher I am today.”
For the past 15 years, Garcia has produced “anti-bullying” shows that teach students to accept each other's differences.
Garcia has been a UIL coach for 22 years spending many after school hours at practice and on the road with students as they travel to compete. In 1998, she started Ballet Folklorico de San Diego which ended in 2008. She has helped organize local parades, helped with summer reading programs, directed shows for a local church, and consulted for several pageants in the area. Garcia was a member of the Bilingual Theater Company from 1982 through 2000.
“At the beginning of my career, I decided that I would teach as hands on as possible,” Garcia stated. “The textbook is full of information, but how could anyone really understand about theater without getting on that platform of a stage.”
Garcia takes inspiration from her students.
“They have taught me many lessons as well, which has made me a better teacher,” she said.
The 2016 Elementary Teacher of the Year is Dolly Ann Toews who has a total of 35 years of teaching experience. Twenty-nine years of that experience has been teaching the students of San Diego ISD.
“My decision to become a teacher was not my first ambition,” Toews wrote in her biography. “Being raised in a Christ-centered family and going through our denomination education system, I wanted to do something that I could find approval with my Lord.”
Toews decided she would be in the medical field however, that wasn't the field for her. She remembered that the Lord was a teacher.
“He was my first inspiration,” Toews stated. “Then I remembered Miss Crowder my eighth grade church school teacher.”
Crowder encouraged Toews to do her best something she instills in her students.
“My personal feelings and beliefs about teaching is to be an inspiring teacher to my students,” she stated. “I want each and every student to feel needed and wanted.”
Toews understands that she will never be rich monetary speaking, but she is the richest person just by having hundreds of students tell her she is the reason they became a teacher.
The legacy she wants to leave behind is one of compassion, love and trust.