Published Saturday, Nov. 13, 2010
Two of five teachers named Friday as California Teachers of the Year work in Sacramento schools, and both say they're driven by a deep belief that every student can learn.
Fifth-grade teacher Shannan Brown of Thomas Edison Elementary School in the San Juan Unified School District and math teacher Kadhir Rajagopal of Grant High School in the Twin Rivers district were among five educators statewide selected for the honor.
Brown and Rajagopal, who each teach at high-poverty schools, said two keys to their success are developing relationships with students to create education-friendly environments and reaching out to parents for support.
"If kids see that I care more than just about how they do academically, then they feel safe and are motivated to do better," Brown, 37, said.
Rajagopal, 28, said he identifies a parent, grandparent, coach or relative who will help keep each student on track. He puts their phone numbers in his cell phone and calls often.
In a prepared statement released Friday, state Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O'Connell said of the five Teachers of the Year: "They each have unique ways of teaching and thinking that inspire their students to love learning."