Four Santa Barbara Unified School district alumni, all recent local college graduates, are inaugurating an innovative program that funds teacher training at UCSB for positions in Santa Barbara-area classrooms.

Alejandrina and Maria Lorenzano, Evely Jimenez and Monica Rojas are the first to receive a PEAC Community Fellowship for Education, which will provide each with full funding to attend UCSB’s Teacher Education Program. Upon earning their teaching credentials, each will have an opportunity to teach at Santa Barbara Unified School District.

“Through the support of the James S. Bower Foundation and UCSB, we are very excited about the launch of the PEAC Fellows program in the summer 2019,” said Superintendent Cary Matsuoka.

“This program supports first-generation college graduates in their aspirations to serve as role models in the Santa Barbara community, as well as increase diversity in the Santa Barbara Unified teacher workforce,” she said. The PEAC Fellowship is in honor and memory of beloved educator Jo Ann Caines.

Jon Clark, president of the James S. Bower Foundation, said they “are excited to be part of this next step of the PEAC journey, and believe that having PEAC graduates back in the classroom as teachers will make a meaningful difference for students year after year.”

Key partners in the launch of the PEAC Fellowship also include the Hazen Family Foundation, and the Helen and Will Webster Foundation.

“A program like the PEAC Fellowship embodies the mission of the Gevirtz School, for it stresses the important role that education plays in helping to build a democratic society that is becoming increasingly diverse,” said Dean Jeffrey Milem.

“Our teacher candidates commit to an intensive 12-month program, and with teaching placements during the day and graduate classes at night, there is no time for them to work, too,” Milem said. “Therefore, the generosity of local foundations is crucial in helping those who might not be able to attend the Gevirtz School get a first-class education without incurring large debt.”

The Santa Barbara Unified Program for Effective Access to College (PEAC) is an initiative to prepare students in grades 7-12 for college entry by providing access to advanced placement classes, and academic and socio-emotional supports.

In an effort to extend such support beyond students’ matriculation to a four-year institution, the PEAC Community Fellowships for Education create a seamless pathway for college graduates who aspire to teach.

“Once the Fellows earn their teaching credential and are placed in an SB Unified school, they are in essence coming home,” said Patricia Madrigal, who oversees the district’s PEAC efforts.

The Santa Barbara Unified School District, which serves some 15,000 students from preschool-12th grade, launched the PEAC college readiness program in 2011. For more, visit

The Gevirtz Graduate School of Education at UCSB is comprised of the Department of Counseling, Clinical and School Psychology, the Department of Education, and the Teacher Education Program.

— Camie Barnwell for Santa Barbara Unified School District.