Samantha Cruz Voted UC High Teacher of the Year


Miranda Figueroa

Cruz is the first Special Education teacher at UC High to be voted teacher of the year.

Allison Martin, Staff Writer

   Special Education Teacher and Senior Class Advisor Samantha Cruz was voted UC High Teacher of the Year for the 2021-2022 school year due to the hard work and dedication she puts into her job on a daily basis to help students and improve UC High.

   According to a website on the teachers and staff of the year for the San Diego Unified School District, “In observance of National Teacher Appreciation Week, May 1-8, 2022, San Diego Unified will be holding a special virtual celebration honoring the district’s Teachers of the Year, on National Day of the Teacher May 3, 2022. Six District Teachers of the Year will be honored at the Day of the Teacher celebration on Tuesday, May 3, at 5:00 p.m. during a virtual ceremony” (

   “I feel overwhelmed with excitement about it, because it’s such a big deal and I take it more as a win for students who aren’t typically recognized and acknowledged. I’m a special education teacher, and I believe I am the first one ever at UC High to be voted teacher of the year, so it’s a pretty big deal,” Cruz stated.

   “I think the main reason I was voted teacher of the year by my peers was because I’ve really invested myself into UC and have done and am doing a lot for the school and helping everybody in the biggest ways I can,” Cruz said.

  Senior Class Co-President Mackenzie Connor shared her love and admiration for Cruz. “I am so thankful to have a teacher like Ms. Cruz as she is someone I can approach when I’m seeking help, and I will always receive guidance and compassion in return. I truly don’t know where I’d be without her,” she said.

  Science Teacher Justin Nguyen said, “Sam deserves to be teacher of the year because everything she does is in the best interest of the students. Her love for the students is unparalleled and she really goes above and beyond everyday. Sam’s efforts challenge me to step up my game everytime I think about it. As her ASB co-advisor, I am excited and honored to be working alongside her next school year.”

  Cruz also said, “I was hired because I’m a special education teacher so I work with many students with mild to moderate disabilities, and that’s my main role. I have been the class of 2022’s advisor since they were sophomores and that was my first year here. This year, I’m Senior Class advisor, I am the lead for the Equity Team on campus and I’m going to be taking over ASB fully next year — anything that needs to be done, I try my best to help with.”

   Freshman Maya Heacock stated, “I didn’t know Ms. Cruz was so involved here, but I know she deserves teacher of the year because I always see her happy. She is never negative and is always willing to help you no matter who you are.”

   “Sam is the kind of teacher who touches the lives of those around her, students and colleagues. She truly cares about her students, making sure that they feel seen and accepted for who they are. If anyone at the school needs something, Sam will be one of the first to offer her help. Not only that, but seeing Sam always brings a smile to my face” said Biology Teacher Janelle Aleksic.

   “I have no problem being a safe person for students, and I want every student to have an adult to connect with, if that’s a teacher or if it’s another staff member. I think every student deserves someone to be able to talk to, and feel comfortable around and I love that I can be that for students,” said Cruz.

   Connor stated, “Ms. Cruz is not only a teacher at UC but a role model to so many students. I know this is only the beginning of her lagacy at this school.”