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Santa Barbara Rotary Club Recognizes Marcia Merrifield for Achievements in Teaching

The Santa Barbara Rotary Club recognizes three or four local teachers annually for their outstanding contributions to their students’ academic development. On April 10, Rotary Club officials were pleased to announce Marcia Merrifield, who has taught English for the past 21 years at La Cumbre and La Colina junior high schools in the Santa Barbara Unified School District, as the latest honoree.

Marcia Merrifield

Merrifield is particularly gifted in teaching students who are English learners. Her principal, David Ortiz, commends her excellence in effective teaching, her dedication and her passion for guiding students to future success. He sees her emphasis on ongoing effort, engagement in learning and working through adversity as keys to her success.

“Highly effective teachers such as Marcia Merrifield make the difference in students’ lives," Ortiz said. "Her gift is clear and unrelenting — love, support and caring.”

Merrifield started teaching in Michigan, moved to Washington state, then moved to Santa Barbara, where she earned her master’s degree at UCSB. 

Reading has been her passion, Merrifield says, and that her master’s program included an emphasis in reading. She agreed to train to teach an intensive reading intervention program designed for English learners five years ago. She wanted her English learners to have equal access to any curriculum, so her goal was to get her students reading at their grade level as quickly as possible.

“I believe all students can learn,” Merrifield says. “All students should be given an opportunity for a college or career future. My students often ask why they have to do this assignment or that assignment. My response to them is because you can, and I will guide you.

“I know that I am just part of their journey toward becoming productive adults. However, I get a thrill to hear from the occasional former student. One student came back to school to visit and told me he could ‘hear my voice’ as he wrote his English assignments in ninth grade. He wanted to tell me that he is now in the Honors English program at his high school.”

Merrifield has three children, Joe, Clark and Lauren, and three grandchildren, with a fourth due in April. 

The Santa Barbara Rotary congratulates Merrifield as an outstanding teacher and is providing a check for $1,000 to be used in the classroom.

The Rotary Club of Santa Barbara meets at The Fess Parker DoubleTree Resort in Santa Barbara for lunch from noon to 1:30 p.m. on Fridays. Recipients of the club’s Teacher Recognition Awards are made with the assistance of the Teacher Programs and Support Department of the Santa Barbara County Education Office.

For more information, visit teacherprograms.sbceo.org or santabarbararotary.com.

— Kris Bergstom is the communications director for the Santa Barbara County Education Office.

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