Weeks after being named Atascadero Unified School District’s Teacher of the Year, Atascadero High School math teacher Christy French is still reeling.
“I just never thought I was ever a teacher who stood out,” said French, a district employee for 33 years. “I’m still overwhelmed.”
The Atascadero District Teachers Association honored French earlier this month.
Meanwhile, the Classified School Employees Association named cafeteria assistant Genevieve Clayburg as Atascadero Unified’s Classified Employee of the Year.
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A district employee for 18 years, Clayburg divides her time between San Benito and San Gabriel elementary schools.
Originally from the Los Angeles area, French graduated from Cal Poly with a bachelor’s degree in math and a master’s degree in education.
She spent nine years at Atascadero Junior High School, teaching English, math and science to students such as future KSBY-TV morning news anchor Richard Gearhart, before becoming a math teacher at Atascadero High School.
Her specialty is advanced placement statistics.
“My goal for teaching is to try and show students multiple ways to see the problem and work it out as well as enjoy it,” French said. “I really like helping people. It’s so rewarding,”
French said she tries to make math visual and “applicable to real life.”
“You’ll always have those students who love math and are eager to learn more. (And) you’ll always get those students who are really struggling,” said French, who comes in contact with about 180 students on a weekly basis.
“It’s such a great thing when I can see that lightbulb turn on.”
Principal E.J. Rossi praised French’s hands-on approach, positive attitude and diehard school spirit, describing her as “a Greyhound at heart.”
“She has that same passion and love (for teaching) that our first-year teachers have,” Rossi said. “She really tries to bring the subject to life for the kids.”
French, who’s retiring at the end of the school year, had planned to step down from teaching entirely, she said.
Instead, she’ll join Cal Poly’s teaching staff.
“This is just an opportunity that I could not pass up,” said French, who’s been teaching math at Cuesta College for three years. “This is going to be invigorating. ... It’s so exciting for me to go back there and be a teacher.”