Honoring Teachers who Make the Grade 3

“Let us remember: One book, one pen, one child, and one teacher can change the world.” —Malala Yousafzai

Here, we celebrate three incredible teachers who educate and inspire students to achieve their dreams.

Trudy Tuttle Arriaga, Professor of Education of the Year

Raised by two educators in the Ventura Unified School District, Trudy Tuttle Arriaga started following in her parents’ footsteps when she became a teacher’s aide in the classroom.

During this time, “someone was kind enough to say, ‘you’d be a great teacher’,”’ remembers Arriaga, of Ventura.

So, she returned to school to earn her master’s degree in Educational Administration and Supervision from California State University, Northridge.

“And again, someone was kind enough to say, ‘have you thought about being an assistant principal?’” says Arriaga, who later earned a doctorate in Educational Policy, Planning and Administration from the University of Southern California.

The early encouragement from her colleagues spurred Arriaga to become the district’s first female superintendent for 14 years, a teacher and a principal, dating back to 1975.

“I retired from the superintendency after 14 fabulous years because it’s the second chapter in my life and I wanted to try something different,” she says. “Although I retired from the superintendent, it was never my intention to go home.”

In 2015, Arriaga joined California Lutheran University’s faculty full-time after serving as an adjunct for nine years. That year, the district office was named the Trudy Tuttle Arriaga Education Service Center; and in 2017, she was named the Professor of Education of the Year by the Association of California School Administrators.

In other honors, Arriaga was a 2015 Woman of the Year for the 37th Assembly District and 19th Senate District and the city of Ventura’s Citizen of the Year in 2012.

AT CLU, she teaches in master’s and doctoral programs, as well as the university’s new Institute for Executive Leadership in Education certificate program for administrators.

In 2015, the release of a book she co-wrote with Randall P. Lindsey, Opening Doors: An Implementation Template for Cultural Proficiency, spurred Arriaga to travel across the country helping districts improve student engagement and achievement by focusing on diversity, equity, access and inclusion.

“The book is about equity and inclusion for all students and their families,” she says. “In my travels, I also do professional development, talking to teachers, administrators and staff about equity for all.”

Looking back on her lifelong vocation, she is grateful for those who helped her along the way.

“It’s important to have mentors and people who believe in us,” Arriaga notes.

She is currently writing another book that focuses on female leaders, “and my experience as a leader in a role that historically was not a role for women,” she says.

Meanwhile, “I’m just thrilled to be at Cal Lutheran because they’ve been so supportive of my work.”

Karrolyne Fogel, 2017 President’s Award for Teaching Excellence

Karrolyne Fogel’s passion for teaching was inspired by her parents, who were both educators involved with students both inside and outside of the classroom.

“I grew up seeing what made a good teacher,” recalls Fogel, of Thousand Oaks.

Her first teaching experience was through Girl Scouts, where she taught camp skills, as well as arts and crafts.

“But I became interested in math as a career when I did an overnight visit while choosing a college,” she says. “My host was a math major and I was enthralled by her math class.”

Today, Fogel is the associate professor of mathematics at California Lutheran University, where she joined the faculty in 1998. Earlier this year, she received the 2017 President’s Award for Teaching Excellence, which recognizes professors who are held in high esteem by their peers, students and the university community. A committee of past honorees selected Fogel to receive the honor and $2,500.

At CLU, Fogel teaches upper division electives for math majors as well as classes for non-majors. She also educates aspiring elementary school teachers in the Interdisciplinary Educational Studies Program and serves as the director of the Mathematics Single Subject Program for those planning to become high school math teachers.

“We all run into problems with math; it’s just a matter of how far along you are before it takes significant effort to make a concept make sense,” Fogel notes.

“The difference between me and the students is that I’ve experienced the thrill of finally having the pieces shift into place enough times that I’m hooked,” Fogel says. “My goal is to help them reach that point. But also to help them realize that they are worthy people independent of how they do in math.”

Through her vocation, Fogel especially enjoys working with individual students and seeing them grow and develop, both mathematically and as people.

“It’s just such a privilege to be part of that transition,” she says.

Fogel’s next endeavor will involve returning to one of her favorite classes, Number Theory, for the first time in 12 years.

“I’m excited to be back,” she says.

As part of the class, students read about the quest to prove Fermat’s last theorem, which was proved in 1994 after 450 years.

“I was working in that area of math when it was finally proved,” Fogel says, “so I have personal stories about the topic and the proof that help the topic come alive in a way that’s hard to get just from a textbook.”

Leah Oviedo, 2017 Ventura County Teacher of the Year

As the granddaughter of a preschool teacher, Leah Oviedo grew up hearing stories about her grandmother’s wonderful experiences in the classroom.

“My grandmother inspired me to be a teacher—she sparked my love,” remembers Oviedo.

Oviedo’s love for the vocation was further solidified when she started working as a child care assistant for Conejo Valley Unified School District, where she realized she would make teaching a lifelong profession.

Today, she is a teacher at Walnut Elementary School in Newbury Park, where she was named the 2017 Ventura County Teacher of the Year by the Ventura County Office of Education.

“I am just doing my job as a teacher,” she says about the honor, “so it has taken me back to receive an award for doing my job.”

Oviedo’s educational philosophy is integrated into the word “inspire,” which she says is her reminder to inspire students to reach their fullest potential. Integrating current ideas into her classroom is also important, so she drives her instruction to meet the needs of individual students by creating engaging lessons.

“Knowing the needs of all my students is very important,” Oviedo says. “It is my job to teach to the whole child so everyone can be successful. I believe each student learns differently and it is my job to get to know the students, so they can be successful learners.”

She also creates a classroom where all students feel safe.

“I create an environment where I am nurturing to all my students, and where all students can feel safe and included to contribute to our classroom environment without negative criticism.”

Above all, Oviedo’s goal is to be the best teacher she can be, “because the students deserve that,” she says. “They are our future doctors, teachers, police officers, maybe even the President!”