Tribute to teachers Q&A: Christina Peña Eckert | School zone


[Noozhawk’s note: One in a series on the teachers who will be honored Nov. 6 at A Salute to Teachers, presented by Cox Communications and the Santa Barbara County Education Office.]

Ten educators will be recognized on November 6 at A Salute to Teachers, an event organized by Cox Communications and the Santa Barbara County Office of Education to Western Music Academy in Montecito.

Alisyn Blanton from Miguelito School in the Lompoc Unified School District was named Santa Barbara County Teacher of the Year in 2022.

Frank Koroshec from San Marcos High School in the Santa Barbara Unified School District will be honored as the 2021 Santa Barbara County Teacher of the Year.

Josie Coburn from Orcutt Academy High School in the Orcutt Union School District will be recognized as the 2022 Santa Barbara Bowl Performing Arts Teacher of the Year.

Elizabeth Caruso from Monroe School in the Santa Barbara Unified School District will be honored as the 2021 Santa Barbara Bowl Performing Arts Teacher of the Year.

Distinguished 2021-2022 Mentors to be recognized are Lorena Armstrong of Mary Buren School in the Guadalupe Union School District, Riccardo Magni from Pioneer Valley High School in the Santa Maria Mixed Union High School District, and Melissa Woods of Dos Pueblos High School in the Unified School District of Santa Barbara.

The New Distinguished Educators 2021-2022 to be honored are Samantha Ayala of The Honda STEAM Academy in the Lompoc Unified School District, TJ Berry from Santa Ynez Valley Union High School in the Santa Ynez Valley Union High School District, and Christina Peña Eckert from Carpinteria College in the Carpinteria Unified School District.

The eighth annual presentation will be broadcast live at 5 p.m. on November 6 at

In addition to Cox, Salute to Teachers is sponsored by Noozhawk, Fielding Graduate University, Montecito Bank & Trust, Santa Barbara bowl, Santa Barbara City College and Southwest Airlines.

Noozhawk Questions & Answers

Noozhawk: Why did you decide to become a teacher?

Christina peña eckert: I decided to become a high school teacher. Throughout my studies in the public school system, I had never had a teacher who represented me as a student. In many of my classes, especially at the higher levels, I was the only Latin / x student, and the content I was taught rarely mentioned people who looked like me.

As I became entrenched in the world of education, this inequity that I felt as a teenager turned out to be a recurring theme. As a teacher, I hope to teach my students not only verbs and vocabulary words, but also what it means to be a global citizen in the 21st century and how to interact with people of different backgrounds, cultures and backgrounds. different religions.

Noozhawk: How long have you been teaching?

CPE: This is my fourth year of teaching at Carpinteria College.

Noozhawk: What is your favorite subject or lesson plan to teach your students?

CPE: One of my favorite lessons to teach my students is at the start of the year. My students read an article, watch a video, and view an infographic on why people around the world are learning Spanish. Then they use the information to determine why they want to learn Spanish.

They are introduced to the growing prevalence of the Spanish language around the world, as well as to the people and places where Spanish is spoken. It gives me the opportunity to see how much Spanish my students already know, and it helps them determine the “why” for taking this course.

Many students share that they are learning Spanish in order to connect with their family, community and / or friends, which brings our class together and communicates with me what their values ​​and attitude towards students are. Spanish class.

Noozhawk: What’s your favorite part of being a teacher?

CPE: The best part of being a teacher is spending time with the students! I like that my job is different every day and that I can teach them subjects that I am passionate about.

What is unique about college is that students find out who they are or who they want to be. They begin to ask tough questions, have great feelings, and form strong opinions. Each of them follows their own journey on the road to high school, and I have the tremendous opportunity to be a part of it.

Noozhawk: What are the challenges of your job?

CPE: Teaching is certainly not for the faint of heart. One challenge that has arisen in recent years has been the “wearing many hats” that accompanies teaching.

Especially in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, everyone in education has taken on new roles to better support our students and address the inequalities that have arisen over the past 19 months.

Noozhawk: What are you expecting the most from this school year?

CPE: This year has been great, and I’m lucky to be able to see my students face to face, although with masks, so rather half face to half.

One of the things I look forward to this year is focusing on relationships with my students and finding ways for them to connect with each other. After such an uncertain educational journey, they all deserve a place to be able to meaningfully interact with each other, learn from each other and share their experiences in a safe and welcoming environment.

Noozhawk: Who are your mentors?

CPE: I would not accept this award without the guidance and mentorship of Marith Parton, Mary Van Dyke, Dr Michelle Hughes and Dr Andrew Mullen. I cannot express enough how grateful I am to be part of an incredible network of educators here in Santa Barbara County.

Noozhawk: Who are the people in your life and in your work environment who support you on a daily basis?

CPE: My family is my biggest support. Each of them has played an immeasurable role in my life, and I cannot express how grateful I am for their continued support.

My chosen family here in Santa Barbara – especially my husband, Chris – have all been extremely supportive, and I am blessed to have them with me every step of the way.

Noozhawk: How does it feel to be honored as part of the Salute to Teachers?

CPE: Unbelievable! There are so many amazing educators in our community, and I am honored to be included in this profession.


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