Thursday, April 26 , 2018, 11:30 am | Partly Cloudy with Haze 58º


Rotary Club Honors Goleta Valley Jr. High Teacher

English teacher Justina Weinbender encourages students to "think for themselves."

Justina Weinbender with Rotary Club of Santa Barbara’s Mike Bieza. Click to view larger
Justina Weinbender with Rotary Club of Santa Barbara’s Mike Bieza. (Rotary Club of Santa Barbara)

Rotary Club of Santa Barbara has recognized Goleta Valley Jr. High School teacher Justina Weinbender for her demonstrated excellence and significant contributions to public education.

The honor, given out in April, is the fourth and final such award the Rotarians presented to area educators this academic year.

Weinbender, who has been teaching seventh- and eighth-grade English at Goleta Valley for 19-20, if you include her student teaching there, said, “I don’t plan on retiring until I’ve been teaching over 40 years.”

Since 1986, Rotary Club of Santa Barbara has honored outstanding teachers from South Coast schools each year. It awards a high school, junior high, elementary, and special-education teacher with a certificate and a $1,000 check to spend on classroom needs.

“We appreciate the vision, caring, and commitment of the Rotary Club of Santa Barbara in making annual awards that recognize the contributions of outstanding teachers, while providing resources that enable them to enrich their classroom environments,” said county Superintendent of Schools Bill Cirone.

Cirone's whose office coordinates the recognition with the Rotary Club of Santa Barbara. “Our teachers are second to none and perform daily heroic acts on behalf of students and families.”

“The Rotary Club of Santa Barbara is committed to supporting the Santa Barbara County Education Office, and it gives us great pleasure to recognize the efforts of outstanding teachers like Justina Weinbender,” said Mike Bieza, chair of the Teacher Recognition Committee of the Rotary Club of Santa Barbara.

“Rotary of Santa Barbara and Rotary International members know that educators like Justina have a tremendous impact on their students, who one day will be the leaders of our community.”

Education is a family affair for Weinbender, whose husband teaches U.S. History at Goleta Valley. Described as a devoted, creative, out-of-the-box thinker.

Weinbender said of her students, “I really want them to think for themselves, and to make the learning rich and useful for them.

"When a student tells me they watch movies differently because of class, or they understand the news because of what they’ve learned, that absolutely makes my week,” she said.

Weinbender earned an undergraduate degree in English as well as her masters in education from UCSB. Her strength lies in her compassion and dedication. She wants every student to succeed, regardless of their background or ability.

Her passion is noticed not only by her students, but by her fellow teachers and administrators.

“Ms. Weinbender exemplifies excellence and a dedication towards keeping students first,” said her principal Mauricio Ortega.

“With consistency, she provides rigorous and engaging lessons, opens her classroom up to clubs during lunch, and runs the school newspaper," Ortega said.

"It has been a tremendous gain to have Ms. Weinbender at our school, and I have no doubt that she will continue to be a huge asset for our students,” Ortega said.

Recipients of the Rotary’s Teacher Recognition Awards are made with the assistance of the Teacher Programs and Support department of the Santa Barbara County Education Office.

— David J. Lawrence for Santa Barbara County Education Office.

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