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2016 Honoring Educators Awards

Outstanding Teaching Credential Student

Maria Jose May

Maria May grew up in Portugal and came to the United States as an English language learner. She is passionate about diversity and equity in education. She earned her first undergraduate degree in Agricultural Engineering in Portugal, as well as a bachelor’s degree in Viticulture & Enology from UC Davis, where her training in plant sciences and wine chemistry honed her analytical and problem-solving skills.

Maria stood out from her first days in the credential program for her vibrancy, dynamism and creativity as a teacher. It was immediately clear how much she wanted to help students overcome their challenges and be prepared for college and careers, and how, in her words, she wanted to inspire them about the science of life. She is currently a student teacher at Cosumnes Oaks High School in Elk Grove, where she teaches biology to sophomores and general science to freshmen, and will teach seventh-grade life science at Lodi Middle School in the fall.

Outstanding Doctoral Student

Mariama Smith Gray

Currently a doctoral candidate, Mariama Smith Gray holds BA degrees in Latin American Studies and Spanish Literature and Society, an MA in Educational Leadership, and an MA in Education, and has won numerous scholarships, grants, and awards. She has been a teacher, department chair, ELL facilitator, mentor teacher and vice principal in various California school districts. As a school administrator, she was successful in reducing suspension and expulsion rates and improving attendance. Her dissertation examines the disproportionate discipline of Latino boys in a California high school.

Rising Star Alumna

Melanie Pope (BS ‘98, Cred ‘11, MA ‘12)

Melanie Pope, who earned her undergraduate degree in Biological Sciences, was directing the educational programs for K-12 students at the Yolo Basin Resource Center when she decided to earn her teaching credential. She has been a science teacher at Willish Jepson Middle School in Vacaville since 2012, and teaches seventh grade science to general education, special education and English learner students. She works tirelessly to make science accessible to all of her students, makes complex material comprehensible and interesting, and serves as a role model for educational accessibility and inclusivity.

Distinguished Alumna

Caroline Turner (BS ‘67, MA ‘70)

Caroline Turner grew up in farm labor camps in California, and a Cal Aggie Alumni Association scholarship enabled her to attend UC Davis. She earned BS and MA degrees, and in 1988 earned her PhD at Stanford University. She is a Professor and Graduate Coordinator for the Doctorate in Educational Leadership Program at CSU Sacramento, after holding full professorships at two other universities. Her body of work focuses on access, equity, leadership, and qualitative approaches to policy research in higher education, and she has received numerous awards for her scholarship.

Outstanding Education Advocate

Carl A. Cohn

During more than 30 years in the educational field, Dr. Cohn has been a teacher, counselor, professor, superintendent, State Board of Education member, and Federal Court monitor. In his current role as Executive Director of the California Collaborative for Educational Excellence, he collaborates with the State Superintendent of Public Instruction and California’s 58 county superintendents to help school districts achieve their Local Control Accountability Plan goals. Dr. Cohn personifies the role of research practitioner, expanding the field of education through his commitment to urban affairs and educational policy.

Outstanding Faculty

Steven A. Athanases

Steven Athanases is a Professor in the School of Education at UC Davis, where he researches issues of cultural and linguistic diversity and educational equity in teaching, adolescent learning, and teacher education, with a focus on literacy and English language arts. Dr. Athanases began his education career as an English teacher in Chicago. Since receiving his PhD in Language, Literacy and Culture: Curriculum and Teacher Education at Stanford University, he has built a large body of influential scholarship and received numerous awards for his teaching, writing and research.

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