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Class Notes May 2004: Volume 1, Number 2
   

Class Act
Erin McPeek Mangahis, Muir ’99, TEP ’00

   
     

A group of restless freshmen eagerly gather outside the classroom waiting for their teacher, Erin McPeek Mangahis.
Today she will guide all 37 of them through a chapter of James McBride’s book The Color of Water, the story of a young black man’s tribute to his white mother.

“My students need to see that the literature they read and the subjects they study are relevant to their lives,” says 27-year-old Mangahis. “Not only does this empower them to succeed, it helps them appreciate many different perspectives, cultures and ideas.”

Patrick Henry High School is a large urban school of 2,500 students in San Diego and Mangahis’ classroom is a melting pot of ethnic groups and lifestyles. Mangahis is up for the challenge. Everyone is engaged—each student primed to answer her pointed questions. When the class is dismissed, students linger, excited to share their insights.

And Mangahis’ ability to inspire has attracted attention beyond the classroom. In October 2005, the young teacher was recognized as one of four San Diego County’s Teachers of the Year at the televised star-powered extravaganza Cox Presents: A Salute to Teachers. “I was humbled,” says Mangahis, who was publicly honored for her ability to celebrate cultural diversity.

A literature/writing graduate, Mangahis was enrolled in the Teacher Education Program (TEP) at UCSD and credits professors Pat Vreeland, Win Cooper and Listy Gillingham with nurturing her teaching ambitions. “I cannot praise the program enough,” she says. “It did an incredible job of preparing me to succeed as a teacher.”

Away from the classroom, the petite budding writer enjoys rock climbing, hiking, snorkeling, surfing and running with husband, Andy, a biology teacher at Patrick Henry.

— Mary Johnson

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"My students need to see that the literature they read and the subjects they study are relevant to their lives...Not only does this empower them to succeed, it helps them appreciate many different perspectives, cultures and ideas."