By SUNNY LOCKWOOD
Saturday afternoon, when 319 students at Kresge College on the University of California, Santa Cruz, campus receive their degrees, they will also receive a few words of wisdom from Bret Harte High School English teacher Amber Pappe-Reynoso.
Pappe-Reynoso has been chosen as Kresge College's Distinguished Teacher of the Year. She will be recognized during the commencement ceremony and will deliver a short speech to graduates.
"My theme is 'cherish others,' " she said. "Regardless of the paths we choose to follow, life is fuller when you cherish others."
Cherishing others, especially her students, is one of the reasons Pappe-Reynoso was chosen for the honor.
Kresge College Provost Conn Hallinan said Pappe-Reynoso was the unanimous choice of the award committee.
"She was the No. 1 vote of every member," he said. "This is a teacher who doesn't forget her students. They keep coming back long after high school
graduation, and she helps, counsels and advises them."
Each year, Kresge College students write essays nominating teachers for the award. A former student of Pappe-Reynoso's, Trevor McGee, wrote the essay that convinced the committee.
Hallinan said the Distinguished Teacher of the Year award is one of the best things Kresge College does.
"Too often, universities get the credit for what happens to our students without recognizing that all the heavy lifting is done in primary and secondary
"By the time the students get to us, they know how to learn. And those earlier teachers don't get enough credit for that.
"Bret Harte is mighty lucky to have someone like her."
Bret Harte Principal Catherine Sargent agreed. She called Pappe-Reynoso "wonderful, creative and sensitive to her students."
Pappe-Reynoso, 45, said she wanted to be a teacher since she was a child in Los Angeles.
"Growing up, I played school and I was always the teacher, never the student," she said.