Teachers spark curiosity within their students and equip them with the tools to explore that curiosity. Doing this is no easy task, but the outcomes are worth it for the teachers in the world.
The Santa Barbara County Education Office is recognizing teachers who are doing their jobs above and beyond.
Eight educators in Santa Barbara County will be honored Nov. 2 at the seventh annual A Salute to Teachers gala.
Two of them are Michele Frantz, the 2020 Santa Barbaray County Teacher of the Year, and Bree Jansen, the 2020 Santa Barbara Bowl Performing Arts Teacher of the Year. Six of them are a part of the two-year Teacher Induction Program, a countywide program that matches new teachers with more-experienced mentors.
Marith Parton is one of the three distinguished mentors this year. Ms. Parton is living proof of wisdom in a young adult. At 28 years old, she mentored a new teacher in the TIPS program, and she’s happy she was able to give back to the community where she grew up.
Ms. Parton teaches English at her former middle school, Carpinteria Middle School. She was drawn to English while attending Cal State Long Beach.
“I chose English because I like the social justice aspect of teaching it,” said Ms. Parton. “There’s such an opportunity to provide knowledge about the world, different cultures, different societies.”
One particular book she enjoys teaching her students is a novel published in the late 1970s, “Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry.” The book addresses racism in the U.S. during the Great Depression and Jim Crow era.
“The kids always really love that story,” said Ms. Parton. “They’re confronting racism for the first time.”
Ms. Parton strives to teach students to think critically about issues. She told the News-Press that she encourages students to arrive at answers themselves without her handing it to them. By not having answers presented on pedestals, students get to flex their critical thinking skills at an early age. With these skills will also arrive the curiosity to wonder about the world, and that is what makes teaching so meaningful for Ms. Parton.
“They’ll question the world in which they live,” explained Ms. Parton.
With all the critical thinking and questioning, though, sometimes kids may find themselves confused and overwhelmed. Luckily, Ms. Parton has a strategy for that.
“We bring in real life connections,” said Ms. Parton.
Her classes discuss things that may be ongoing in present time instead of only operating in the realm of a book. For her, such discussions are ways of supporting students in their learning.
Along with Ms. Partin, Battles School’s Marilyn Tilley and Los Olivos School’s Amy Willis will also be honored as distinguished mentors.
The new teachers receiving the distinguished title are El Camino Junior High’s Michael Wallace, Miguelito School’s Melanie Thatcher, and Anthony Bruemmer, who is teaching at his former elementary school Santa Ynez School.