The construction trades teacher at the Stanislaus Military Academy took a bow Thursday as 2017 California alternative education Teacher of the Year.
Ron Kunnen, called “Coach K” by his students, works at the boot camp-style program in Turlock run by the Stanislaus County Office of Education (SCOE). It primarily serves expelled high school students, using drill sergeant discipline, uniforms and lots of push-ups to help students get back on track. Parents must choose the program.
“He is affectionately called Coach because he leads by example is devoted to the young people he teaches. He works with the students in several programs assisting with life skills, job skills and emotional skills as well. Coach inspires, encourages, and guides them through it all,” said Judy Leitz, a SCOE spokeswoman. “I have heard firsthand how much his support means to the people he comes into contact with. He’s truly a head coach and without his success, the students would not be as successful.”
State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson congratulated teachers in ten categories at a state luncheon in Truckee Thursday. Kunnen is the 2017 Juvenile Court, Community, and Alternative Schools Administrators of California Teacher of the Year.
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“Teaching in alternative education requires a certain character, dedication, and spirit that not only connects with these students but also inspires them to learn and invest in their future,” Torlakson said. “Ron’s commitment to his students and his unwavering belief in their abilities helps them to believe in themselves.”
Kunnen has been in education for eight years. His students receive industry experience while doing community service projects. Kunnen’s classes have worked with Habitat for Humanity on home construction projects, built more than 30 free community “little libraries,” and constructed tables and benches for the SCOE outdoor education program, Foothill Horizons.
Kunnen was selected by the Juvenile Court, Community, and Alternative Schools Administrators of California from among nominees from every county.