In honor of Teachers Appreciation Week, we are departing from the typical format of this column during May to honor many of the educators who have gone through the Galt school system and returned to teach the next generation of Galtonians. If you are a Galt area teacher who graduated from Galt High School or Liberty Ranch High School and you have not already been contacted regarding this series, please email Faith Lewis at firstname.lastname@example.org or Bonnie Rodriguez at email@example.com.
Becca (Remus) Dennis
Liberty Ranch High School
Becca Dennis knew she wanted to be a teacher long before she graduated from Galt High School in 1998. Like so many other local teachers who graduated from GHS, her time in high school had a huge impact on her future career.
“It was when I had Mr. Deis as a history teacher that I decided to be a high school teacher,” Dennis said. “Mr. Deis became somewhat of a mentor teacher to me … I not only enjoyed the content, but the way in which he taught. This led me to my career in social science.”
A three-sport athlete and a member of several school clubs during her time at GHS, Dennis taught at her former high school for three years after earning her teaching credential from California State University, Sacramento. When Liberty Ranch High School opened, she decided to accept a position there.
“I chose to move to Liberty Ranch to follow my mentor, Mr. Deis and, because I loved everything about GHS and my experiences there, I wanted to … be a part of instilling some of those loved traditions at Liberty as well,” she said. “It has been a career goal to make sure Liberty has some of those ‘Hometown Traditions’ while still being able to grow its own identity.”
Dennis started the Leadership program at LRHS when the school opened, helping students to cultivate their own campus culture, traditions and events. The class was so successful that the program was expanded four years ago and now more than 70 students participate each year.
Valley Oaks Elementary School
The Galt that Teresa Michel remembers from her childhood was true small-town America where she was able to ride her bike down Lincoln Way and know everyone she passed.
“Galt was a very small town then. Everyone knew everyone,” she said. “People watched out for each other.”
She graduated from GHS in 1983 and, eager to experience the “real world,” she transferred from San Joaquin Delta College to California State University, Northridge in Southern California. After a year away from home, she transferred to California State University, Sacramento. She earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in 1988 and her Multiple Subject Credential from California State University, Stanislaus in 1990. Shortly after, she began as a substitute teacher in the Galt Joint Union Elementary School District.
“Being an elementary teacher, to me, is very much like running your own business. You have to work many extra hours that you are not paid for, in order to make your ‘business’ run smoothly,” Michel said. “The kids themselves make this job worth all those extra hours. In what other job does a person get 22 high-fives, handshakes, fist bumps or hugs every morning?”
Michel taught fourth grade for 11 years and now teaches third grade at Valley Oaks Elementary School. This is her 27th year teaching.
River Oaks Elementary School
For Sarah Aceves, the desire to become a teacher all started at her school’s career day when she was in second grade.
“My second-grade teacher talked about teaching,” Aceves recalled. “The way she talked about teaching and how joyful she was really had an impact in cementing my career choice.”
At Galt High School, Aceves played soccer and tennis and cheered, but it was her time in the classroom that had the greatest impact on her future career. She was motivated and inspired by her time in Alan Posey’s classes.
“He helped push me to always do my best and taught me that I can succeed in anything I put my mind to,” Aceves said.
She graduated from GHS in 2011 and attended Western Governors University for her B.A. in education and M.S. in special education. Now a third-grade teacher at River Oaks Elementary School, Aceves hopes to help her students discover that they are capable of more than they might realize.
“I really love being able to watch my students master new concepts and continue to grow throughout the year,” she said. “They always make me laugh, and every day I am thankful I chose this career path.”
Aceves currently lives in the countryside with her husband Luis and their three dogs, Brandi, Colt and Harlee.
Christina (Hoff) Lawrie
McCaffery Middle School
Christina Lawrie attended Galt Middle School and then Galt High School. Before graduating from GHS in 1992, she played softball, was involved with drama and was Student Council Vice President.
“I have so many fond memories of high school and being involved in so many activities at GHS,” Lawrie said. “Teachers at that time were just as involved in activities with the students and really made an impact on our lives.”
While attending Sonoma State University, Lawrie had her sights set on a career in criminal justice, yet she had a long mental list of things she would like to do with her students if there was ever a twist of fate and she became a teacher: be involved with student extracurricular activities, take her students to Washington, D.C., and be a mentor and role model like the teachers she looked up to.
“I always had teaching in the back of my mind because of amazing teachers I had along the way,” she said. “As I was on a waitlist for a job in the criminal justice field, I decided to get my teaching credential just in case, and the rest is history. I fell in love with teaching.”
She earned her B.A. in criminal justice administration with a minor in political science from Sonoma State University in 1996 and her teaching credential from San Francisco State University in 1997. After, she taught at Greer Middle School for six years before moving to McCaffery Middle School when it opened. In her 22 years as a teacher, Lawrie has taught everything from language arts and drama to student council and criminal justice. She now teaches eighth grade social studies.
“I love this age because I feel that this is a time of transition for students,” Lawrie said. “They need teachers who will listen to them, care about their interests, and mentor them in becoming successful young adults. Eighth graders are funny, more capable than they realize, and I love that most end up really enjoying history more than they ever thought they could.”