SACRAMENTO, CA - It's easy to see that English teacher Alyson Stanley cares about students because she spends much of her time, inside and outside of the classroom, working with them.
Stanley teaches at Hiram Johnson High School in Sacramento where she sparks interest in English literature by relating stories to her students' personal lives.
She had no trouble generating discussion when students read "The Girl Who Wouldn't Talk." The author, Maxine Hong Kingston, is from Northern California.
"Her family is from China. They came here before she was born and had her in Stockton," Stanley explained. "She's a first- generation American with conflicting feelings about honoring her heritage. Hopefully, she's teaching you that all of you have voices and amazing cultures."
Stanley said she was inspired to start teaching when her mother teacher retired from the corporate world and earned her teaching credential.
"I also love reading and I love literature. I love stories and sharing them with students," Stanley said.
Outside of class, Stanley helps raise school funds by working in the student store. She said, "We have the Hiram Johnson Corporate Business Academy here. We want to train the students how to run a small business, how to do inventories and scheduling."
Stanley is the advisor for the Class of 2012 and a coordinator for senior projects. Two years ago she started the school track team.
"We spend two to three hours after school everyday," Stanley said. "It's a lot of my time but it's totally worth it. These guys come out here everyday. It gives them some place safe to be."
Students said she prods them to improve their grades. Many will become the first in their family to attend college.
"We have students who get good grades, do community service and all the right things but may not be thinking about college," Stanley explained. "I've worked with a lot of students on their personal statement for universities. I've worked with them on filling out the application for financial aid."
Stanley also takes students on college tours. "We want them to be on campus and get a glimpse of what college life would be like," she said.
She tells them college will play an important role in their future.
"I want them to be leaders of their communities -- a productive member of society."
By Karen Massie, firstname.lastname@example.org