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.
“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.