School of Education Celebrates Award-Winners

abbyransom.jpgAwards were presented to local schools, teachers and students on Wednesday, May 11 at the School of Education's Recognition and Awards Ceremony, which celebrated the outstanding work happening in local public schools and highlighted the people responsible for those achievements, many of whom are alumni of SSU's Credential and Masters programs.

The ceremony featured several award presentations, including the 24th annual Jack London Awards for Educational Innovation, the Circle of Excellence Awards, and the F. George Elliott and Patricia Nourot Memorial Scholarships.

Jack London Awards

This year, for the first time in the history of the Jack London Awards program, two schools were recognized for their distinguished educational programs.

The 2011 recipients of the Jack London Awards are Penngrove School, for its Recess Renaissance Program, and Piner High School in Santa Rosa, for The Early College Magnet Program.

The Recess Renaissance Program at Penngrove School aims to foster a climate of inclusiveness, openness and support for all students. This goal is being achieved through supportive activities during recess, and by pairing older students called "Social Ambassadors" with a younger peer for general support during the lunch period. As a result, students are less isolated and withdrawn at recess, and disciplinary referrals have declined.

"The school heavily relies on faculty and staff and parent volunteers," said a Jack London Awards judge after visiting the campus. "There is a tremendous amount of organization and planning that goes into making this program successful. This is a real labor of love, and it's paying off."

Leslie Keating is the program coordinator for the Recess Renaissance Program, and Kathleen Larson is principal of Penngrove School.

The Early College Magnet Program (ECMP) at Piner High School was created to build a bridge between high school and college, by offering students the opportunity to earn up to a year of college credit while concurrently enrolled in high school. Ninety-four percent of the ECMP graduates from the class of 2010 matriculated to a college, university or other institution of advanced study.

"What impressed me most were the students themselves, their level of confidence, academic achievement and enthusiasm," said one judge after reviewing the Piner High program. "You can tell they are role models and work and share what they are learning with other students at Piner, encouraging academic excellence and the pursuit of higher education."

Rachel Hagan is a counselor and program coordinator of The Early College Magnet Program, and Sally S. Bimrose is the principal of Piner High School.

Both schools shared short video presentations during the awards ceremony, profiling their award-winning programs.

Circle of Excellence Awards

Also presented at the May 11 ceremony were the Circle of Excellence Awards, which honor individual teachers and SSU alumni, and have been part of the annual Celebrating Teachers event at Sonoma State since 1999.

Alumni from the Early Childhood Education and Reading & Language Masters Programs, as well as the Single Subject and Multiple Subject Credential Programs, were honored with awards, having been nominated for the honor by faculty in those respective School of Education programs.

Award recipients included Kate McAlister, alumna of the Early Childhood Education Masters Degree Program and currently a teacher at the Sonoma State University Children's School; Samantha Stoughton, alumna of the Reading and Language Masters Degree Program and currently a teacher at Oak Grove Elementary School in Santa Rosa; and Heather Garcia-Rossi, alumna of the Single Subject Credential Program and currently a teacher at Montgomery High School in Santa Rosa.

Eric Backman, assistant principal of Casa Grande High School in Petaluma, received the "Friend of the Program" award from the Single Subject Credential Program.

Also recognized were the Mark West Elementary School Mentor Teachers, for their involvement with the Multiple Subject Credential Program as the CORE Program Collaboration site. The group includes Tracy Kendall-Lavin (principal), Melissa Anderson, Nancy Arreola, Lisa de Kozen, Gary Graves, Brigitta Hunter, Heidi O'Hare, Jennell Pardo and Lesley Van Dordrecht.

F. George Elliott Scholarship and Patricia Nourot Memorial Scholarship

Lastly, the F. George Elliott Scholarship and the Patricia Nourot Memorial Scholarship were presented.

Professor George Elliott, who taught education at SSU for nearly 25 years, worked for many years supervising student teachers in the Santa Rosa City School District and was dedicated to quality teacher education. The F. George Elliott scholarship is his legacy to the middle level, junior high and senior high teachers of the Santa Rosa City School District.

This year's Exemplary Student Teaching award was presented to Abby Ransom (pictured above) for her work in the Single Subject Credential Program. Additionally, Erika Raffo-Roberts received the Elliott Fellowship for Professional Renewal for her work as an English teacher at Elsie Allen High School.

The Patricia Nourot Memorial Scholarship honors the memory of Dr. Patricia Nourot, who was Coordinator of the Early Childhood Credential and M.A. Programs at SSU for nearly 15 years.

Nourot, who passed away in 2006, was a renowned scholar of early childhood education, and her memorial scholarship provides funds to offset educational expenses for students in the Early Childhood Education minor or the Early Childhood Education Masters Degree Program at SSU.

The 2011 recipient of the Patricia Nourot Memorial Scholarship is Jennifer Carter, an SSU student currently enrolled in the Early Childhood minor program.


To view photos from the 2011 School of Education Recognition and Awards Ceremony, visit the Sonoma State University Facebook page at

For more information on the many programs available through the Sonoma State University School of Education, visit the website at

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