Class of 2012-2013

What a class they are!  Learn a little bit about the Class of 2012-2013.

Barbara Collins

It is said that Dr. Collins raised three children and countless students, spending 50 years at California Lutheran University where her courses and field trips won the President’s Award for Teaching Excellence.

She is the author of ten textbooks and all the plants on the CLU campus are labeled, leading to an arboretum named in her honor. She and her husband Lorence created a website that catalogs over 3,000 plants and receives thousands of ‘hits’.

A book about her adventures as a geologist, botanist and educator is entitled “You Lead a Mean Trail,” and chronicles her exceptional life that has been shared by thousands of students.

Dennis Gillette

Serving as an epitome of town-gown liaisons, Dennis Gillette was a city councilman and mayor for multiple terms in Thousand Oaks who created a close relationship with California Lutheran University and the Conejo Valley School District.

He was instrumental in building a community aquatic center with CLU and Conejo Parks. He also served as CLU’s vice-president of Administrative Services and Treasurer. Previous to that, he was a police chief and assistant sheriff who often used his expertise to work with troubled students at CLU, earning him an honorary doctorate of laws degree. As mayor, he asserted that CLU’s students and faculty make significant cultural and financial contributions to the area.

Sharon Harada

Newly retired after 32 years of teaching from the Pleasant Valley School District, her fellow educators won’t forget the impact she made with her “calm ability” for teaching young children, mentoring new teachers and embracing improved techniques and programs.

Sharon was instrumental in the startup of Tierra Linda School in 1994 which later earned the title of Distinguished School, and she helped create a literacy program for grades K-3 along with the Bridging the Gap curriculum that eases the way for preschool kids going to kindergarten.

Joe Perata

Praised as an “absolute master” in guiding special needs elementary children, Joe used patience and respect even when a child had a melt-down. A principal of Los Nogales School described him as “a solid anchor” who worked well with children and adults during his 38 years of teaching, mostly at Los Nogales from 1981 to 2001.

Joe has passed away, leaving behind a legacy of caring and not giving up on students who had difficulty learning, whether or not their handicap was emotional or physical.

Edward Phillips

Thousands of people attended a service for this legendary teacher-coach in the sports stadium after he passed away, honoring a man who over 32 years was a math teacher, football and basketball coach and a principal.

His first decade was at Santa Paula High and the rest at Rio Mesa High where he was so respected that when he was going to be transferred, students conducted a successful sit-in protest for two days. The Rio Mesa Community Aquatic Center is named after him.

Juanita Sanchez-Valdez

Known as a pioneer and trendsetter throughout her five decades as an educator, Sanchez-Valdez has been a teacher, counselor, principal and a mentor to student teachers.

She was one of the first Latinas to earn a PhD nationwide and was the first Latina principal in Ventura County when appointed to the post at Ramona School in 1979 and later at the Juanita School. She was also the first Latina on the Ventura County Board of Education.
In recognition of her long-time leadership, she received a key to the city of Oxnard after being educator of the year, winning a distinguished service award, history maker award and leadership award, among so many other honors.

Manuel Valdez

A headline once proclaimed Manny was a “Math teacher who taught lots more than math,” and so it was for a man who coached wrestling and made his classroom at Thousand Oaks High School feel like home for 38 years.

The son of migrant workers, he was encouraged by a wrestling coach to go on to college. He spent the rest of his life inspiring other youth to do the same, reaching beyond their grasp, whether they were wrestling with an algebra problem or on the mat.
He gave back to the district as a director of the Conejo Schools Foundation and to the community through the Westminster Free Clinic.