Megan Gross goes above and beyond for teaching

A 2007 graduate of Sacramento State’s teaching credentials program, Southern California high school teacher Megan Gross recently was named a California Teacher of the Year for creating a classroom that provides security and comfort to her students.

Gross is an autism spectrum disorder teacher at Del Norte High School for the Poway Unified School District in San Diego. Gross was one of five teachers chosen for this award, and has also been nominated for the 2017 National Teacher of the Year Award that is to be announced in spring.

“I am excited to have the opportunity to showcase the incredible work of special education teachers and further inclusive education opportunities for students with disabilities across our state,” Gross says.

Gross earned her bachelor of science in genetics at UC Davis in 2002. In 2004, she came to Sac State to earn her level I and II credentials for teaching.mgross-2016

“My Special Education Credential Program advisors at Sac State, Dr. Kathy Gee and Dr. Jean Gonsier-Gerdin, opened my eyes to the opportunities and possibilities of inclusive education,” Gross says.

Before going to Sac State, she supported individuals with disabilities through a Yolo County nonprofit known as the Summer House Inc. The people she supported showed great work ethic and valued education.

A special education teacher for nine years, Gross now teaches an autism spectrum disorder special day class at Del Norte High. There, she leads instructional assistants who collaborate to create various learning opportunities and experiences for students.

“Teaching is life-fulfilling work,” Gross says. “I love the challenge of identifying the best instructional and support strategies for my new students each fall and delight in the rewards of each student’s ‘a-ha’ moment that ultimately leads to growth and continued success.”

Since she started teaching, Gross has been able to create a welcoming classroom environment where students can access resources they need to excel academically and socially. She has also led her students in launching a schoolwide campaign, “Soctober,” to collect socks and blankets to help homeless families in their school district.

“Watching my students learn big ideas in biology, U.S. history, health, photography, choir, and marching band, and become valuable members of their classroom and campus community, is the most incredible reward in my professional career,” Gross says.

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Kim Zarins holds last signing for her new book

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Sacramento State Professor Kim Zarins, who has just released her third book, has her last book signing at 1 p.m. tomorrow, Oct. 8, at Barnes and Noble Booksellers in Roseville.

Her book, Sometimes We Tell the Truth, was released Sept. 6 by Simon Pulse publishing. Since then she has held several signings at different locations in the Sacramento region.

Zarins’ book was inspired by The Canterbury Tales, but tells the story of a busload of teenage students instead of Christians on a pilgrimage. Her previous children books include The Playful Bunny and The Helpful Puppy.

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Zarins came to Sac State as a professor eight years ago and now teaches medieval and children’s literature. She received her doctoral degree from Cornell University in New York.

For more on Professor Zarins, read our news release about the publication of Sometimes We Tell the Truth.

Joey Garcia celebrates 20 years of her “Ask Joey” column

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Joey Garcia ’90 (Government/Journalism) is celebrating 20 years of sending out kind words, wisdom, helping mend relationships and giving people in the Sacramento area emotional support with her column, Ask Joey.

Garcia has been writing her advice column for the Sacramento News and Review (SN&R) since 1996, responding to more than 3,600 question in person and by phone.

“It’s a privilege to help others heal and reconnect with their deepest wisdom and inner peace,” Garcia said in an email..

A celebration marking the 20th anniversary of Garcia’s column will be held at 6 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 20, at SN&R. The event is free and open to the public. Hors d’oeuvres and drinks will be served.

She started her college education at CSU Hayward, now known as CSU East Bay, in the 1980s.  She soon obtained an internship that led to a job as an afternoon news anchor at KKIQ radio. She stayed there for two years, then became a weekend news anchor at KLIV/KARA for one year.

After a short while, Garcia decided it was time to complete her degree and entered Sac State in 1984.  She became vice president of Associated Students Inc. (ASI), traveling statewide as a student lobbyist.

“I discovered an amazing community at Sac State and was blessed to have professors who cared deeply about my success, and who encouraged me in every possible way,” Garcia says.

Garcia then dropped out of Sac State to work for Ogden Martin Systems, starting as a community organizer before her eventual promotion to general manager of public relations at company headquarters in New Jersey. Garcia says the snow and her weren’t meant for each other, so they went separate ways and she came back to Sac State to finish her bachelor’s degree.

With more than 300,000 readers, Garcia continues to give her advice with wit and occasional sass.

“Her advice is wise and deeply spiritual, sometimes veering into edgy and unexpected waters,” SN&R Editor Rachel Leibrock says. “Whether writing about sex and love, friendship and family, or other life matters, her columns are always lively and provocative.”

Ask Joey Readers thought the picture was just eye candy to get people to read the column.

That wasn’t so bad compared with all the hate mail.  Some atheist readers were offended by her inclusion of God in the column and asked her to leave those out but still give advice.

“If you don’t like the column, don’t read it.  If the mention of the word ‘God’ bothers you, skip over it or replace it in your mind with a word you prefer,” Garcia wrote in response to the hate mail, which soon stopped – unlike Ask Joey, which two decades in is as strong as ever.

Garcia will lead a workshop on reducing stress and nurturing joy: “Love Life Like A Boss! Finding joy despite stress, racism and Donald Trump” 6:00- 8:00 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 13, at the SN&R, 1124 Del Paso Blvd., Sacramento. $20 includes dinner. https://snrsweetdeals.newsreview.com/Microsite/8697