2016 OUTSTANDING TEACHER OF AMERICA
AP Biology, Zoology, Accelerated Biology
Central High School West
Central High School USD
Donna has spent her entire life in the Fresno area. After considering a variety of professional possibilities, she decided to major in Biology at Fresno State University where she graduated with a Bachelors of Science. She went directly from college to be trained and licensed as an Emergency Medical Technician. She also became a CPR instructor at a local hospital and eventually put her degree to work doing pathology in the hospital morgue, where she assisted in over one hundred autopsies. However, after three years, she found the work to be quite monotonous and, out of the blue she began to think about teaching as an occupations.
Donna returned to school to get her Single Subject Teaching Credential from National University and did her student teaching at Central High School West, where she was hired immediately following the completion of her student teaching assignment. Donna has been teaching Biology and Zoology at Central High West for seventeen years. She later earned her Masters Degree in Nutrition from the Clayton College in Birmingham, Alabama.
Outside of the classroom, Donna serves as the Science Department Chair and meets each Wednesday with her department members to collaborate on lessons and activities, review materials and reflect on what is working and what is not working in science classes. This constant reflection and collaboration has increased the rigor and the success of the science department. And, because the Central Unified School District has open enrollment, the Central High West Science Department draws students from throughout the district to Donna's classes.
Donna is also the advisor to the Interact Club, a community service club that works in conjunction with the local Rotary Club. With over 60 active members, Donna oversees students who are actively involved with a number of community service activities. Interact students distribute over 30,000 pounds of food each month to the needy and homeless and do weekly tutorials for 2nd through 6th grade students at the elementary school. The club is also working to rejuvenate a Japanese garden, located in a local city park. They are returning this garden to its original Japanese standards and creating a lush, beautiful and calming garden. At the same time they are restoring the Garden Tea House that will house one of the largest Bonsai Collections in California. Donna was the Central Unified School District's teacher of the year in 2015 and a finalist for the Region 7 California League of High Schools Educator of the Year in 2014.