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Pac-12 Goes the Extra Yard for Santa Clara Unified Teachers

Four deserving teachers from across Santa Clara Unified School District were rewarded for their hard work with surprise visits from the Pac-12 mascots who hand-delivered checks of $3,000 to each educator. Awardees included Cynthia Mallison of Bowers Elementary School, Cheryl Chase of Cabrillo Middle School, Jennifer Zeitler of Central Park Elementary School and Ildiko Stennis of Peterson Middle School.

The awards are distributed in connection with the College Football Playoff (CFP) Foundation’s Extra Yard for Teachers initiative. The Extra Yard for Teachers initiative recognizes educators for the hard work they put into our community by “championing great classroom leaders.”

“We are so thrilled for our teacher, Jennifer Zeitler, who has led the way in starting and sustaining an incredible garden and composting program as part of teaching environmental literacy to the students of Central Park Elementary,” said Central Park Principal Miakje Kamstra. “She has also led our school-wide communication/newscast, referred to as ‘Chameleoncast,’ that affords students leadership opportunities in which they bring daily news to all classrooms.”


“We are so excited to celebrate Cynthia Mallison and are grateful for all the work she does at Bowers to provide STEM and sustainability lessons in our beautiful garden and outdoor classroom,” said Bowers Principal Lisa Blanc.

“Through her work, our students have learned about the importance of composting, recycling, and most importantly, where our food comes from. They have had the unique opportunity to experience farm to table lessons that allow them to try new vegetables that they’ve grown themselves. She is so deserving of this recognition and we are very proud to have her as part of our Bowers team.”

“Ildiko Stennis is a leader in the classroom, at the school site, and across the district,” said Peterson Principal Chandra Henry. “Her work promoting STEAM education at our site through class projects and community events, and her work at the district level promoting and supporting events like STEAM Expo are among the many reasons Ildiko was honored by the PAC 12 Extra Yard for Teachers. Congratulations Ildiko!”

A Poem by Cabrillo Principal, Stan Garber: Cheryl Chase, PAC 12 Teacher of the Year

Some people are just born to teach, it’s in their blood and their bones,
Their classrooms are their own little kingdoms and their work-stations are thrones,

Cheryl Chase is one of these teachers, science the language she speaks,
Except her kingdom isn’t a classroom, it’s the sun and the moon and the creeks,

Sustainability is the concept she teaches, how to treat the world with more care,
It’s like teaching children who first go to school, the importance of learning to share,

Cheryl Chase is more than a teacher, she’s our conscience, she’s leading the fight,
So that fishermen can fish, farmers can farm and children can still fly a kite.

In addition to the surprise school visits, the teachers and their classrooms were recognized on the field at the Dec. 6 Utah versus Oregon championship football game. Stay tuned for pictures from this event.

Every year, the College Football Playoffs give teachers money to use in their classrooms as part of Extra Yards for Teachers week. Selections for the teachers were made by the Pac-12 in conjunction with the Conference’s Student-Athlete Advisory Committee, comprised of current student-athletes from each institution.

“We are proud to call you all part of our SCUSD family and thank you for everything you do for our students,” said Santa Clara Unified in a press release. “Keep up the amazing work — go team SCUSD!”


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