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Three Stanford graduates honored with Alumni Excellence in Education Award

Picture composite of Salina Gray, Christine Yeh, and Rebecca Zeigler Mano
Stanford GSE 2021 Alumni Excellence in Education Award winners (L-R): Salina Gray, Christine Yeh, and Rebecca Zeigler Mano

Three Stanford graduates honored with Alumni Excellence in Education Award

The 2021 award highlights careers that have transformed teaching, expanded access to college, and deepened understanding.

Three alumni from Stanford Graduate School of Education are being recognized for advancing learning in marginalized and disadvantaged communities through research, teaching, and improving access to education.

The 2021 Alumni Excellence in Education Awards will be presented to the following individuals in a celebration on October 24.

  • Salina Gray, PhD ’14, 7th and 8th grade science teacher, Mountain View Middle School, Moreno Valley, Calif.
  • Christine Yeh, PhD ’96, Professor, Department of Counseling Psychology, University of San Francisco
  • Rebecca Zeigler Mano, MA ’92, Founder and Director, Education Matters and USAP Community School, Harare, Zimbabwe

“Salina, Christine, and Rebecca have shown creativity, humanity, and empathy in the work they do to improve learning and opportunity, whether in local classrooms in the U.S. or halfway around the world,” said Daniel Schwartz, the I. James Quillen Dean and Nomellini & Olivier Professor of Educational Technology. “These exceptional leaders are helping those who need it most, and having a large impact. They represent the GSE at its finest.”

Since it was established in 2015, the Alumni Excellence in Education Award has recognized 24 GSE graduates whose research, teaching, writing, policymaking, entrepreneurship and/or leadership has advanced education locally, nationally, and internationally.

Teaching to transform and heal

Gray, who received her doctorate in Curriculum Studies and Science Education, is known as a gifted science educator whose practice honors her students' life experiences. With fellow GSE alumna Alexis Patterson, PhD ’15, she developed (W)holistic Science Pedagogy, an equitable science framework aimed at engaging marginalized students in STEM coursework. 

Said Felicia Darling, PhD '16, “In her position as a classroom teacher, Salina demonstrates a strong commitment to inclusive, cutting-edge educational practices.”  

Gray is also a certified yoga teacher who brings those lessons of wellness, mental health, and physical care into her teaching. She is a leader in resilience training and trauma-informed practices, speaking at venues for pre-service and in-service teachers and professors around the world.

“Dr. Gray is truly a revolutionary teacher and educator of educators. Her teaching embodies the essence of love— and transformative and just science instruction,” Patterson said. Her “commitment to teaching and her students supersedes the classroom. She is constantly increasing her pedagogical and content knowledge.” 

Finding evidence-based solutions

Yeh, who earned her doctorate in Counseling Psychology, is recognized for profound scientific contributions to the development and evaluation of school- and community-based programs for historically excluded communities. 

Her interdisciplinary approach to educational scholarship has generated a career award from the National Institute of Mental Health, a Spencer grant, and a Fulbright Senior Research Scientist Fellowship. 

“Dr. Yeh is a scholar activist who has used her research skills to promote and advocate for equitable conditions for historically targeted communities,” said her USF colleague Professor Noah Borrero, PhD ‘06. 

Her drive to teach and learn from others and her tireless commitment to mentorship have influenced a generation of scholars and social justice advocates.

Expanding access

Zeigler Mano, who received graduate degrees in International Development Education and the Stanford Teacher Education Program, works with high-achieving, low income students in Zimbabwe supporting a pathway to a college education through her organization, Education Matters. 

She founded the United Student Achievers Program (USAP) in Zimbabwe, which has served more than 500 students over 20 years. Students in USAP, which expanded to 12 countries on four continents, have become doctors, academics, tech entrepreneurs, agriculture economists, non-profit leaders, banking professionals, molecular biologists, business owners, and computer scientists. One USAP alum, Dr. Tatenda Shopera, worked on the team that developed the Pfizer COVID vaccine.

“Rebecca is a bold and tireless visionary who has made it her life’s mission to provide educational opportunities to high achieving, low-income Zimbabwean students who are committed to making a positive impact on their communities, country, continent, and world,” said her former GSE classmate Mary Rauner, MA '92, '94, PhD '98.

Awards ceremony

Each year, winners of the Alumni Excellence in Education Award are chosen by a panel that includes GSE alumni, faculty and the dean. Recipients also receive an honorarium made possible through the generosity and vision of Angela, ’93, and David Filo, MS ’90, and the Yellow Chair Foundation.

The winners also are typically feted at an awards ceremony during reunion. After a virtual event during 2020 because of the coronavirus pandemic, the GSE plans to host the awards ceremony in 2021 on campus with all Stanford and Santa Clara County COVID guidelines in place.

Find out more about the award nomination criteria and see profiles of past recipients.

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