Stanford Graduate School of Education names El Centro teacher as one of three winners of 2016 alumni award


by Brooke Donald 
Three alumni from Stanford Graduate School of Education have been chosen to receive the 2016 Alumni Excellence in Education Award, which honors graduates who are transforming the field, changing communities and influencing policies.

This year’s winners are Joseph Castro, PhD ’98, president of California State University, Fresno; Haydee Rodriguez, MA ’02, teacher at Central Union High School in El Centro, Calif.; and Piya Sorcar, MA ’06, PhD ’09, founder of nonprofit TeachAIDS.
Dean Daniel Schwartz is scheduled to present the awards during a reception on campus Oct. 20. The ceremony kicks off Stanford’s Reunion Weekend.

“I’m very excited to celebrate the achievements of these three alumni,” Schwartz said. “Through the work they do and the dedication they bring, they are showing how education can bring hope to communities and lift up entire regions.”

Now in its second year, the Alumni Excellence in Education Award aims to shine a spotlight on the many ways GSE alumni are improving education worldwide. It was created by a group of alumni and recognizes excellence in several areas including research, instructional practice, innovation in addressing a challenge in education, policy leadership and dedication to underserved populations.

Alumni are nominated by their peers, and members of the faculty, alumni and Schwartz make the final decision on winners. Each winner will receive an honorarium from a generous Stanford family that cares deeply about raising the profile of education and teaching in society.


Haydee Rodriguez teaches English, history and other subjects to high schoolers in El Centro, Calif. 

Rodriguez, who grew up in El Centro and teaches history and English, is being lauded for her long-term commitment to serving the students of her hometown and to the art of teaching.

“Quite frankly, I’m crying tears of joy,” Rodriguez said after receiving word of the honor. “Thank you so much for having selected me to receive this remarkable award.”