Outstanding Teacher of the Year

Grace Patino

Grace Patino

Retired from Watsonville High School; Watsonville, California

Ms. Patino was born in Bakersfield, California to immigrant parents from Mexico who each had only an elementary education. Grace did not learn English until she began kindergarten, but because education was important in her family, Grace became the first in her family to attend and graduate from college. She attended the University of California, Davis, and earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Biological Sciences in 1971.  She then transferred to California State University, Fresno, where she earned her secondary teaching credential.

Grace began teaching as a substitute teacher at E.A. Hall Middle School and was hired full time in 1974. In 1982, Grace took time off after her sons were born and returned to Watsonville High School in 1984 to teach basic math, Algebra, Algebra II, Advanced Algebra, and Trigonometry until retiring in 2010.

Teaching mostly immigrant students, it was Grace’s primary goal was to make Math easily accessible and understandable to as many students as possible. Consequently, she became the advisor of the Mathematics, Engineering, and Science Achievement (MESA) club, where she worked with students after school and on weekends to teach the more advanced concepts she could not cover in her classroom. During her tenure as the MESA Advisor, 100% of her seniors were accepted to four year colleges/universities. No other California MESA programs were as successful preparing math and engineering students for college.

In 2006, in partnership with the University of California, Santa Cruz and the Santa Cruz County Office of Education, Grace, Vivian Moutafian, and Carol Kaneko, initiated a summer program for “Girls In Engineering” which continues to offer summer programs for Santa Cruz County female engineering students.

Grace retired in 2010 after 35 years in the classroom. However, she continues to assist students to realize their potential and achieve more then they believe possible. She is a member of the Watsonville Ivy League Project committee, which exposes students to the possibility of attending Ivy League schools. The committee selects students to travel to the east coast to visit Ivy League campuses. Grace is also the founding member of the of the committee that oversees the E-tech program, which offers programs with the dual purpose of creating both an engineering and a construction/auto repair pathway for both college bound students and students who choose to pursue a career pathway in the building/auto trades immediately following high school.

-Published 2002

Carlston Family Foundation is now Above & Beyond Teaching