2005 OUTSTANDING TEACHER OF AMERICA
English and Puente Program Teacher, Tennyson High School; Hayward, California
Ms. Rogerson has been teaching for nine years. She started at Tennyson High School in 1996 and was one of the first teachers in the Puente program. Puente is a program for under-represented youth in public high schools. It begins in 9th grade and works with students and teachers to help students see the value of and, hopefully, pursue a four-year post-secondary education. She took a two-year leave of absence to work in the MUSE program at Berkeley ' teaching and mentoring student teachers in Bay Area schools ' and has returned to continue her teaching at Tennyson.
Ms. Rogerson teaches Puente 9th and 10th grade English classes and also a senior English college-prep class. Her two other periods are currently taken up by her leadership role in forming a 'Small Learning Communities' initiative on campus. This is a program that splits the school into four smaller components, to help the students feel less lost in the larger environment and to better cater to their educational needs.
Ms. Rogerson concentrates her energies on her students and their well- being both inside and outside of the classroom. She is known to have a deep sense of fairness, which she utilizes at every opportunity. She fights for her students' rights and has developed programs to give them a voice in the institution of the school. Ms. Rogerson is known for her teaching style of 'fair but firm'. She does her best to bend her teaching style to what will work for her students, while emphasizing reading and writing. Her 'quick writes', 10 minutes during almost every class when the students must write on a given subject, are tough for many students, but seen as a great learning tool by her graduates.
The Student Voices class, which was initially developed as a student group by Ms. Rogerson and then turned into a class, was designed to give students who do not typically have a voice in what happens in the schools an opportunity to have some input (students who do not have high grade point averages, may not have high attendance records, and tend to be minority students). The program gives them a voice and teaches them about community activism and how to address their needs and be a part of the school community. Though the class lapsed during her leave of absence, because the teacher who took over the class left mid-year, Ms. Rogerson is working on including the premise of Student Voices into the program of the 'small communities' that she is developing for the school.
She has participated in Facing History in Ourselves, a program that trains teachers to teach students how their actions affect the community and the world, studying subjects as diverse as the Holocaust and the Civil Rights Movement. She was chosen by BASRC (the Bay Area School Reform Collaborative), under a state grant, to be the school representative, developing research on the school population to better determine how to meet the educational needs of the students. She was involved with Teachers for Social Justice for a few years, and is involved with Project Impact, an organization of teachers studying the methodology of looking at ways to improve the practice of teaching. Ms. Rogerson was selected for the Bay Area Writing Project and attended their summer workshops. As a member of this group, she may nominate other teachers for inclusion and has a responsibility to teach future workshops.
A native of Iowa City, IA, who grew up in Stockton, CA, Ms. Rogerson received her undergraduate degree from Colorado College, in Colorado Springs, CO. She then worked for seven years at various jobs in Alaska, starting, in her words, as a 'fishing hippie', which allowed her to work in the summers and travel in India and South America in the winters; she worked at public radio station KCHU, at Valdez; she was the sole employee at The Conservation Alliance at Prince William Sound; she worked in a health food store, and she became a substitute teacher for the local high school and middle school. After an epiphany during which she realized that she had to become a teacher, Ms. Rogerson returned to California, choosing to live in the Bay Area, and pursued her graduate degree and teaching credential from U.C. Berkeley.