Return to Headlines

SAUSD’s 2025 Teachers and Support Services Staff of the Year Have Been Announced!

SAUSD Board of Education President Carolyn Torres, Board Clerk Hector Bustos and Board Member Katelyn Brazer Aceves, along with Superintendent Jerry Almendarez, and other District leaders, on Feb. 2, 2024, honored the District’s 2025 Teachers and Support Services Staff of the Year during surprise visits to each of their work sites.

With balloon bouquets in hand district leaders recognized each recipient for their service and dedication to the district and its students.   

The honorees are set to be formally celebrated at an upcoming Board of Education meeting scheduled for May. 

Their names will also be forwarded to the Orange County Department of Education for consideration for the county’s 2025 Teacher of the Year awards.

This year’s honorees are:

Teachers of the Year:

Thalia Rodriguez, Teacher at Heninger Elementary School 

Cassandra Cabrera, Science Teacher at Mendez Fundamental Intermediate

Nathan Goodrich, English Teacher at Century High School

Support Services Staff of the Year:

Donovan Bean, Psychologist at Harvey Elementary School 

Read on to learn more details about their commitment and dedication to our schools, our students, our parents and our community, as stated in their award nomination forms.

T. Rodriguez 2025 Elem. TOY

Thalia Rodriguez

Teacher, Heninger Elementary School 

Mrs. Rodriguez has a high school diploma from Santa Ana High School, a Bachelors in math from Pomona College, and a masters in education from USC. She received numerous honors, grants, and recognitions at all levels of her education.

Thalia, a former valedictorian from Santa Ana High School, embodies community spirit. A Pomona college student, she returned to Santa Ana Unified, enriching lives as a math teacher. Her profound impact is evident in the student leadership team she founded, reflecting her commitment to nurturing future leaders. 

Mrs. Rodriguez’s remarkable initiative in fostering student leadership within our school is truly commendable. Her almost single-handed effort in creating a program where students have a voice, take action, and become the true leaders is a testament to her dedication and innovative approach to education. 


C. Cabrera - Inter. TOY 2025

Cassandra Cabrera

Science Teacher,  Mendez Fundamental Intermediate

Cassandra Cabrera, a cornerstone at Mendez Fundamental Intermediate school for 11 years, embodies dedication and innovation. As a pioneering Greene Architecture teacher, she introduced groundbreaking CTE programs, broadening students' horizons. Her tireless commitment to STEM education extends beyond classrooms, fostering inclusivity and excellence. A true luminary in education. 

Cassandra Cabrera‘s 11-year tenure at Mendez Fundamental showcases pioneering initiatives - school-wide science, assemblies, diverse field trips, sports coaching, and innovative STEM programs like NASA SOFIA Girls in STEM. As Science Department Chair, she leads curriculum development and receives recognition for innovative, teaching, and ambassadorial roles in STEM.


N. Goodrich - HS TOY 2025

Nathan Goodrich

English Teacher, Century High School

Mr. Goodrich earned his single subject, teaching credential at CSULB, as well as his masters, in Education, Curriculum, and Instruction. He also hold Career Technical credentials in Arts, Media, and Entertainment, and in Child Development.

Mr. Goodrich started at Century in 2010-11 and has served as ELA Department Chair for 7 years. In the past, he taught Print Journalism for 4 years, and was the Speech and Debate coach for 5 years. In addition, he taught Careers in Education for 6 years as part of our TEACH Academy.


D. Bean - Support Staff of the Year 2024

Donovan Bean

Psychologist, Harvey Elementary School 

Donovan Bean graduated from the University of California, Santa Barbara with a School Psychology credential and a Masters from Azusa Pacific. Mr. Bean worked as an Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) Specialist. He became the Behavior Intervention Case Manager, (BICM) through the Orange County Department of Education, and he served as a BICM and ADOS, (autism), assessor within the district for over 10 years. Mr. Bean has been a district trainer for Non-Crisis Intervention (CPI).

Mr. Bean has served as a mentor to the special education staff, as well as other psychologists in the district. He leads the special education department at Harvey and Fremont. Over the years, Mr. Bean has been instrumental in bringing a collaborative approach to staff and servicing students. She brings in the appropriate resources to ensure that staff and students have what they need to be successful. Oftentimes, you will find Mr. Bean in the classroom modeling appropriate behavioral techniques for teachers and staff.