Meet our Students

Here what some of our students have to say about what inspires them to teach, and what they think about their experiences here at Sonoma State.

Martha Bello

Area of Emphasis: Reading and Language

Martha Bello picture

Martha Bello is a second grade teacher in the Konocti Unified School District and is currently in her 11th year teaching. Martha enrolled in the Reading and Language MA program at SSU with the goal of becoming a better teacher. She wanted to discover the best ways to help children learn and to help guide others in her school and district to focus on the child rather than the curriculum.

For her Reading and Language master's project, Martha studied what happens when students choose their own books for reading groups, and observed increases in learner engagement and motivation for interacting with books. Differentiated reading groups is one way to assist students at their current reading level and teach them the strategies required to read increasingly difficult texts. The purpose of this study is to determine how students' views of themselves as readers change when given the opportunity to choose authentic text during differentiated reading groups.



Tara Lyon

Area of Emphasis: English Language Development

Tara Lyon picture

Tara has been a teacher for fourteen years. She began in 2000 after graduating from Sonoma State University. Her first job was in a first grade classroom, followed by two years of Kindergarten. After that Tara took a leave to serve in the United States Peace Corps with her husband where she traveled to Azerbaijan and lived, studied, and taught English for just over two years. When she returned, she got right back into teaching with a move to the upper elementary grades.

For her Curriculum, Teaching and Learning master's cognate project, Tara began by wondering how to best help move English language learners beyond an intermediate CELDT level (California English Language Development Test). While in this program she closely examined her classroom practices, curriculum, and methodologies and found many ways to be a more effective teacher for her English Language Development (ELD) students.

She continues to closely examine the practices and lessons within her regular day, specifically within a Project Based Learning Unit, to see what types of language learning components are included in her content lessons, and to determine whether her ELD students are getting the explicit direct instruction in English that they need without being pulled out of class.

Tara has taught at many grade levels and currently teaches sixth grade within the Santa Rosa City School District.


Wayne Street Jr.

Wayne Street, Candidate for the Master's Degree in Educational Leadership, received a Bachelor's of Arts degree in History from Sonoma State University as well as 
Multiple and Single Subject Credentials from Chapman University. He has been a 
Social Studies teacher at Petaluma High for the past 13 years. Wayne is also an 
Educational Consultant and conducts on-site training with an emphasis in classroom management.

For his master's cognate project in Curriculum, Teaching and Learning, Wayne made a concerted effort to research and gain a deeper understanding of the Common Core State Standards, as well as to research effective practices in the process of adopting and changing his current classroom curriculum. The project also explored the attributes of leadership and steps that are necessary when implementing curriculum change.


Nicole Sabatier

Nicole Sabatier picture

Nicole Sabatier is married and a mother of two children. She graduated from Humboldt State University with a Bachelor Degree and hoped to work in Elementary Education. Nicole then immediately went for a Multiple Subject teaching credential. After teaching elementary school for seven years she decided to go back to school at Sonoma State University for an Administrative Services Credential.

For her Educational Leadership master's cognate project, she decided to research what factors contribute to making a positive classroom, school, district and community culture. Nicole designed methods to create a more positive school culture through a series of classroom, school and community events. Collaborating with peers in the classroom and community on a variety of projects geared her school and community in a more positive direction.

Technology played a pivotal role in her efforts as she developed methods to impact and grow and nurture a healthy community culture in her district.


Darin DuVander

Area of Emphasis: Educational Technology
Darin DuVander with his project

Darin is a strong advocate for the "Maker" and "Tinkering" culture. This mindset applied to teaching and learning invites creativity, experimentation and accidental discovery into the learning process.  Tinkering, when folded into the curriculum, has the potential to form a bridge between school subjects and their applications.

For his CTL master's cognate project, Darin created a large interactive kinetic sculpture that was showcased in the Commence: Sculpture Projects 2013 at Sonoma State. The mechanical workings of his sculpture were kept visible and explorable, so that through hands-on investigation a person could experience the physics involved in making the mechanical parts move. Darin video documented throughout the construction process to demonstrate the "Maker" and "Tinkering" culture in action and its viability as a learning/teaching method.

Darin is currently a stay-at-home dad and someday hopes to bring tinkering-maker mentality into local schools or his own classroom. http://darin-duvander.blogspot.com/