Sept. 13, 1999 Vol. IV, No. 2

University Announces Outstanding Alumni Teacher

Veteran Castaic Middle School Teacher Alison Hunsaker Will Represent CSUN in Systemwide Celebration

Alison Hunsaker, a teacher at Castaic Middle School in northern Los Angeles County who says she could not imagine having another profession, has been chosen as Cal State Northridge's Outstanding Alumni Teacher as part of a yearlong celebration.

Hunsaker, who teaches eighth grade language arts (English) and has 14 years classroom experience, was selected by CSUN from among dozens of applicants. The campus selection committee cited her breadth of experience, use of technology in the classroom and judged her "on the cutting edge of teaching."

"This is probably the nicest thing that's ever happened to me professionally," said Hunsaker, who was nominated by her school principal. "I was really very surprised to find out I was chosen. When you think of all the teachers who have been trained at CSUN, there are some exceptionally talented people."

Hunsaker will be among 22 teachers-one from each Cal State campus-honored Monday, September 13 by the Cal State system's Board of Trustees at an awards dinner in Long Beach. The event launches a yearlong CSU celebration, CSU Celebrating Teachers, highlighting the system's role in teacher preparation.

An estimated 60 percent of the K-12 teachers in California are alumni of the Cal State system. And half of the California Teacher of the Year Award recipients have come from Cal State campuses, including five alumni from Cal State Northridge since 1972.

Hunsaker enrolled at CSUN as an undergraduate in 1980, earned a bachelor's degree in English in 1985, and then went on to earn two credentials and ultimately a master's degree in counseling in 1996. That culminated 16 years of almost continuous enrollment, most of it while working as a teacher.

While CSUN statistically has one of the largest teacher training programs in California, Hunsaker said the university also has one of the best. "The caliber of teaching credential candidates from Northridge is very high. I think people trained as teachers at Cal State Northridge are very well prepared."

Hunsaker's first teaching job was at Pacoima Middle School from 1985 to 1992, where she also served as the school's at-risk student and dropout prevention coordinator. She moved to Castaic Middle School in 1992, serving there as a mentor teacher and a supervising teacher for CSUN.

Illustrating the CSU's impact on teaching, Hunsaker said many of the teachers now at Castaic-a grades four-to-eight school with about 1,250 students-attended CSUN or other Cal State campuses. "I know our district likes to hire people from the Cal State system," she said.

For her part, after 14 years in the profession, Hunsaker said she "can't think of doing anything else." "There are great things happening in the public schools. I think the coursework now is more rigorous than when I went to school. But we need to do a better job of getting that message out."

September 13, 1999

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