In true Hollywood tradition, a crowded Sacramento theater applauded as a Sacramento County Office of Education (SCOE) teacher received top honors on June 1. Frank Lopez, teacher of automotive technology for the Sacramento Regional Occupational Program (ROP), was announced at a gathering of educators and civic leaders at the Esquire IMAX Theatre as 2005-2006 Teacher of the Year for KXTV News 10 (ABC-Sacramento).
Lopez, whose classroom has been based at C.K. McClatchy High School in Sacramento for nine years, was selected from among 12 finalists who teach throughout the greater Sacramento region. Each of the finalists had been named a KXTV News 10 Teacher of the Month during the past year. Lopez received the honor in October 2005. He has been legally blind all of his life and lost his sight completely in 1989. He is often invited to be a presenter at schools and organizations, talking about students with disabilities and how to interact with them.
Through his ROP class, Lopez teaches students more than just how to diagnose and repair automotive problems-he helps them master skills that they will need in the "real world," outside high school.
Lopez states, "Through my direction and guidance, my students are able to recognize their own strengths and weaknesses and deal with them. They observe how I adapt to the classroom or shop environment and have confidence in my ability; soon, they develop the attitude that if a blind teacher can perform the task successfully, they can, too."
He has worked closely with the school's science instructor to help students gain a greater understanding of hands-on applications of scientific principles. Students learn, through a comprehensive blend of academic instruction and hands-on discovery, the science behind all they do.
"We are thrilled, but not surprised, that Frank was selected as our region's 'Teacher of the Year'," said David W. Gordon, Sacramento County Superintendent of Schools. "Frank demonstrates every day that strong academic preparation and vocational training can work hand-in-hand to better prepare our students for college or the future workforce."
Frank Lopez was named the Sacramento County Office of Education Teacher of the Year in 1999. He has a B.A. degree in Vocational Education from California State University, San Bernardino, and an LH (learning handicapped) teaching credential from CSU Sacramento. He is a Master ASE (Automotive Service Excellence) Technician. He has more than 25 years of experience in automotive and diesel technology, much of which he gained while working for the Los Angeles County Fire Department as a fire equipment mechanic.
Sharing the credit for Lopez's award is Judy Lopez, Frank's wife, who serves as his SCOE paraeducator in the classroom.
Frank Lopez received a $5,000 savings bond provided by River City Bank, four round-trip airline tickets from Southwest Airlines, and a Coca-Cola entertainment package. He was featured as a special guest on June 2 on the KXTV News 10 weekday magazine show, Sacramento & Company.
The evening's awards ceremony will be available for viewing on KXTV News 10 several times: Thursday, June 15 at 4:30 p.m., Saturday, June 17 at 7:30 p.m., and Saturday, June 24 at 5:30 p.m.