Longtime Davis resident and activist Rick Gonzales, who taught in the Sacramento City Unified School District for 36 years, will be inducted into the International Educators’ Hall of Fame on Saturday at a banquet in Sacramento.
Gonzales attended Sacramento City College, earning an associate’s degree in 1969, and then graduated from Sacramento State in 1972 with a bachelor’s degree and a teaching credential. In the fall of 1972, at the age of 24, he began his teaching career at Sacramento High School. Gonzales joined the Sacramento High staff as a soccer coach and special education teacher, and he continued to teach there for 23 years.
One of his greatest achievements at Sac High, Gonzales said, was sending a total of 50 students who played on his soccer team — “all of them students from a minority background,” many of them from low-income families — on to further studies at Sacramento State.
Gonzales added that he’s also proud that so many of his special ed students earned high school diplomas — “not by taking the special ed proficiency test, but by taking the regular test.” He said some of his students were able to exit special education altogether, move into regular classes, and succeed.
After 23 years at Sacramento High, Gonzales served as vice principal for two years at Sacramento’s Luther Burbank High School. He concluded his career working with elementary school students as a physical education teacher at several campuses in Sacramento.
“My focus as a teacher was to relate to the kid, and show that I cared,” he explained. “I wanted to get to know the students, and with special ed students, you sometimes have them for multiple years, so you get to know their family, too.”
Gonzales is known in Yolo County for his many years as an organizer with the Concilio of Yolo County, raising money for scholarships for college-bound students. He was named Davis’ 2012 Citizen of the Year in large part for his Concilio work.
Among the inductees this year are six educators who died Dec. 14 during the shooting rampage at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newton, Conn. They are Rachel D’Avino, 29; Anne Marie Murphy, 52; Lauren Rosseau, 30; Mary Sherlack, 56; Victoria Soto, 27; and Rachel Hochsprung, 52.
The International Educators’ Hall of Fame was established in 1993 “to honor educators of all levels and disciplines who performed extraordinary service and achievements in fields of science, medicine, the arts, tourism, sports, law and other disciplines.” Several Davis teachers join the inductees from around the region, nation and world, among them David Risling, Jack Forbes, Neil Hollander, Dick Livingston and Carl Gorman.