2004 Outstanding Teacher of America
Coalinga High School; Coalinga, CA
Debi Bonilla is an English teacher who has been teaching for twenty years. She teaches freshmen through juniors, from standard to college-bound students. She has also taught ninth and tenth grade honors classes. Before coming to Coalinga, Ms. Bonilla taught at Kingman High School, in Arizona, for five years, and at Utica High School, in Iowa.
What Ms. Bonilla is best known for by her students is that she works so hard with her non-English-speaking students to help them gain a solid foothold in the English language and she will do everything she can to help a student achieve and go on to a college education. She is more than a teacher. She is a mentor, tutor, friend, and sometimes a surrogate parent.
In addition to chairing the English Department for the last four years, Ms. Bonilla directed and participated in the “Backward Mapping” Program, to design curriculum in line with current standards. Over the summer, she participated in the Assessment Program to assess the standards and the curriculum. She also took part in the CATE (California Teachers of English) conference, and annually attends the CADA (California Activities Directors) Conference.
Ms. Bonilla isn’t just involved with her students’ academics. She has been the school’s Activities Director for seven years. At the student level, Ms. Bonilla participates in every school activity. She is known for attending all school games and for organizing most of the major school activities, including the senior prom and homecoming, as well as school dances, class trips and other functions. She is well known for chairing faculty and staff activities as well. When not busy with all of the above activities, she also assisted her husband who used to coach baseball, basketball and volleyball.
Debi Bonilla attended college at Bowling Green State University, in Ohio, then transferred to and graduated from Brigham Young University. She studied for her Masters Degree at both Ohio State University and Northern Arizona University, receiving her advanced degree from NAU.