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June 1, 2010 > All-Star teacher

All-Star teacher

By Suzanne Ortt
Photos By courtesy of ComCast SportsNet

Olivia Rangel, Special Education Teacher at Alvarado Middle School, Union City is one of five finalists for Comcast SportsNet's All-Star Teacher Award. This award, originated in 2007, honors middle and high school teachers in northern and central California. These educators exhibit incomparable dedication to their students, both in school and in the community.

Nominee Rangel teaches 6th - 8th grade Special Education. She avidly believes standard middle school course materials are vital to her students' curriculum and enjoys watching her students grow into confident members of society. Her interest in working with children began when she assisted at summer day camps in Hayward at age 15. Rangel became a paraprofessional in the special education field and received a teaching certificate in 2007.

Rangel devotes much of her own time to her students' overall education. She supervises Cougar Buddies, an after-school outreach program promoting friendliness among 15 special education and general education students who socialize, play games, and do art projects. Additionally, she organizes a variety of educational field trips.

Another focus for Rangel is maintaining the school's garden with her students. The garden project started in 2009 with parental donations. Pumpkins dominated and sunflowers outlined the garden. Tomatoes, peas, and onions completed the vegetable array that was ready for harvest last autumn. Recently her students planted the seeds for this fall's harvest. Watering is the responsibility of special education students while school is in session. During summer months, teachers share the duty.

In the classroom, Rangel's lively, fun loving, and caring persona keeps her students thoroughly engaged as she incorporates general education curriculum into her class. She deeply cares for the well-being of her students academically, emotionally, and socially and is in continuous contact with parents and group-homes.

For current events education, Rangel uses a special education newspaper (News-2-You) in morning lessons. During the 2008 presidential election, a mock-election was held as a hands-on technique to teach students about the election process. Recently, when she taught a unit on Ancient Egypt, King Tut and Cleopatra were key figures and students learned to write in hieroglyphics.

Before teaching at Alvarado Middle School, Rangel volunteered in special needs classrooms in impoverished communities. Her influence has not only impacted students at Alvarado Middle School, but includes special needs children in Africa as well.

In the All-Star Teacher Award process, peers, students, parents and principals nominate teachers of their choice. From this list, a panel of community leaders chooses the finalists. Final choices are based on four categories: overall commitment, excellence in teaching, rapport with students, and level of distinction.

The winning 2010 All-Star Teacher will be announced Wednesday, July 28, at an on-field ceremony prior to the Giants/Marlins game at AT&T Park and during the Comcast SportsNet Bay Area's Telecast of Giants Pregame Live. The winner receives $10,000 for his/her school.

Olivia Rangel is a dynamic teacher who deserves this award. No matter what votes are tallied, it is certain that she is an "All Star."

You can help Olivia through on-line voting!

Biographies of the finalists, along with videos and photo galleries, are accessible online at and Vote online through July 9 at either of the above websites. Anyone with a valid email address is eligible to vote.

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