Denis J. Cruz
School: Katherine Middle School
District: Whittier City School District
County: Los Angeles County
Region: Southern California
Grade: Elementary School, Middle School
Subject: Language Arts
Award Year: 2006
To say that my life has been molded, shaped, and transformed by education would be a complete understatement. Though I’ve seen the impact of education in my life, time and time again, one of the most potent examples took place during my first year of college when I landed a part-time job as a classroom aide. The impact of that classroom position would have a lasting impact on my life. For twenty-seven years, I unlocked my purpose as an elementary and middle school teacher and instructional coach who poured his life into students, parents, and colleagues.
Again, the power of education changed my life mid-way through my professional career. After I was named California Teacher of the Year it ignited an even greater passion within me.
I realized my commitment to education could expand beyond the physical limitations of my classroom or district. My influence could be even more impactful. So I took a leap later than most do in their careers and pursued my master’s degree and administrative credential.
I became an elementary principal and during my tenure, I was selected to serve as a Commissioner on the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics.
Later in my career, I combined my love for students, leadership, and systemic change and became Director of Curriculum and Instruction and an Executive Director of Teaching and Learning.
Through a diverse array of professional educational experiences, I learned curriculum and instruction proficiency; coaching and mentoring skills, professional development expertise and how to empower others to take ownership and action.
As a retired professional, my journey is far from finished! Now I am excited to impact educators to be the best they can be, find their unique giftings, and embrace their passions for educating and impacting the future.