Educators of Impact | Barbara Conant

With the COVID-19 crisis making it abundantly clear the critical role that educators play in our society, Lurie College is recognizing SJSU Educators of Impact who have made a transformative difference in the lives of children, families, and communities.  Learn more about SJSU Alumni Barbara Conant below.  To nominate an SJSU graduate who is an Educator of Impact, please complete this brief Google form.

SJSU Lurie College of Education Educator of Impact Barbara Conant

“Barbara Conant was an amazing 5th grade classroom teacher; I had the opportunity as a friend, colleague and administrator to know this from my personal observation of Barbara’s classroom.  With her excellent teaching strategies, she delivered the curriculum to her students through real life experiences.  They witnessed historical events by recreating them in plays, debates, banquets, and more.  Students enjoyed literature by becoming actors, wearing appropriate costumes of that period. Her classroom became a laboratory.  And how do I know that Barbara was an extremely effective teacher?  Because she is still in contact with many of her former students; she attends their weddings, they invite her to lunch or dinner to let her know about their jobs and achievements.  I know for a fact when Barbara, in retirement, became Mayor of Campbell, her former students walked precincts for her.  To sum things up, Barbara accomplished extraordinary things as a teacher, and she has been blessed that her students keep in touch with her to let her know what a difference she has made in their lives.”

Educators of Impact | Mario Rocha

With the COVID-19 crisis making it abundantly clear the critical role that educators play in our society, Lurie College is recognizing SJSU Educators of Impact who have made a transformative difference in the lives of children, families, and communities.  Learn more about Mario Rocha below.  To nominate an SJSU graduate who is an Educator of Impact, please complete this brief Google form.

SJSU Lurie College of Education Educator of Impact Mario Rocha

“Mr. Mario Rocha joined the O.B. Whaley Elementary School staff during the 2019-20 school year as a Resource Specialist Teacher.  Immediately, he was a perfect fit for our student population, a diverse Title 1 school.  He created an inviting learning environment where students easily made connections with him and felt his genuine love for them.  Within weeks of him as the school’s new resource teacher, student absenteeism improved, students made academic gains, and students enjoyed school!  Mr. Rocha is one of a kind, and we are so fortunate to have him as an educator.”

Educators of Impact | Donna Lewis

With the COVID-19 crisis making it abundantly clear the critical role that educators play in our society, Lurie College is recognizing SJSU Educators of Impact who have made a transformative difference in the lives of children, families, and communities.  Learn more about Goleta Union School District Superintendent Donna Lewis below.  To nominate an SJSU graduate who is an Educator of Impact, please complete this brief Google form.

SJSU Lurie College of Education Educator of Impact Dr. Donna Lewis

1. As an educator, what gives you the greatest sense of achievement?

As an educator of nearly 30 years and in my current role as Superintendent, my greatest sense of achievement comes from knowing we are working cohesively as a professional learning community to meet the needs of a diverse student population.  This takes creativity, collaboration, tenacity and a lot of hard work.  We hold high expectations for every student and make no excuses. As a result, our students are outperforming peers from similar school districts.  This is so highly rewarding.

2. What impact has your career had on you?

Public education is ever-evolving and fraught with challenges such as lack of funding, resources, and now distance learning as we cope with the COVID-19 pandemic.  Despite these challenges, or maybe because of them, I have learned to be patient, to be more empathetic, and to never give up — not on any student, family, colleague, or myself. I am definitely a better person for having served as an educator.

3. What advice would you give to a current or aspiring educator?

Being an educator is a calling. I gave up a career in finance to become a teacher because I wanted to make a difference in the lives of students. My advice to any current or aspiring educator would be to push yourself out of your comfort zone.  When opportunity knocks be willing to be flexible and try something new.  Take leadership opportunities.  Get your master’s degree as soon as possible and consider a doctoral degree.  Challenge yourself and always be self-reflective.  Most of all, never forget you are a role model for others.  Respect and treasure the power that you have as an educator to influence the lives of so many.

Educators of Impact | Derica Malaca

With the COVID-19 crisis making it abundantly clear the critical role that educators play in our society, Lurie College is recognizing SJSU Educators of Impact who have made a transformative difference in the lives of children, families, and communities.  Learn more about Derica Malaca below.  To nominate an SJSU graduate who is an Educator of Impact, please complete this brief Google form.

SJSU Lurie College of Education Educator of Impact Derica Malaca

“Derica is helping families and individuals stay certain during this uncertain time through her work as an administrator for the YMCA of SF and as a Financial Educator for World System Builder.  Her work at the YMCA of SF has really helped the organization as they set up Pop – Up Child Care Services for our essential workers in the community.  She is going out of her way to ensure that families in her community are staying connected and informed with the different newsletters that she sends out weekly!  She offers a hand when needed as a front-line teacher as the Y welcomes more kids at their centers while their parents are out helping the community.  As a financial educator, she works night and day to ensure that everyone’s financial future is taken care of.  She has been holding daily Zoom conferences educating families and individuals about their personal finances and doing what she can to share her knowledge and give clarity to those who have lost their jobs, wealth and security.  Derica is an educator of impact by helping all walks of life, one day at a time.”

Educators of Impact | Connie L. Lurie

With the COVID-19 crisis making it abundantly clear the critical role that educators play in our society, Lurie College is recognizing SJSU Educators of Impact who have made a transformative difference in the lives of children, families, and communities.  Learn more about Connie L. Lurie below.  To nominate an SJSU graduate who is an Educator of Impact, please complete this brief Google form.

SJSU Lurie College of Education Educator of Impact Connie L. Lurie

Connie L. Lurie’s commitment to education has had a tremendous impact on both San José State University and the Bay Area as a whole. Her dedication to the university and her philanthropic spirit exemplify the ideals of the College of Education and San José State University.

Connie graduated from San José State with a bachelor’s degree in elementary education and psychology in 1964. She taught in elementary schools on the Monterey Peninsula for six years and later ventured into real estate investment. In her heart, Connie has always been an educator. She established the Guardian Scholars program, which provides support and mentorship to former foster youths at SJSU and endowed the university’s Lurie Author-in-Residence program, which attracts renowned national and international authors to serve as distinguished visiting scholars for one or two semesters. She launched Spartans in the Desert Golf Tournament and Dinner, which brought SJSU faculty and alumni together for a weekend of events in Palm Desert for thirteen years. In May 2013, Connie served as SJSU’s commencement speaker and was awarded an honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from the California State University System. On May 4, 2007, the SJSU Connie L. Lurie College of Education was named in her honor.

Beyond SJSU, Connie is involved in many worthwhile education-focused causes throughout the Bay Area and California. She has served on numerous boards, including the San Francisco Zoological Society, Damon Runyon Cancer Research Foundation, Strive for College and California State Parks Foundation. She has been active with The Living Desert, Kipp Schools, Aim High, and United Religions International. She’s championed summer science camps for kids through the Boys and Girls Club of Coachella Valley and was awarded their Champion of Youth Award in 2019. Connie is particularly proud of the role that she has played in connecting non profits so that they can work together to benefit children and youth.

With her dedication to education, leadership in promoting access to higher education, charitable giving, and longstanding support of the university, Connie L. Lurie is an outstanding “Educator of Impact.”