Dr. Kathleen Rose is the 2019 Educator of the Year and Alexis Munson is the 2019 Student of the Year
Recognizing excellence in education is a goal of the Morgan Hill Chamber of Commerce. As part of its Celebrate awards surprise announcements, it honored Live Oak High School senior Alexis Munson as the 2019 Student of the Year and Gavilan Community College CEO/Superintendent Kathleen Rose as the 2019 Educator of the Year.
Munson was sitting in calculus class Nov. 27 when Live Oak Principal Maria Reitano stepped into the room and apologized for the interruption. Munson saw her parents, brother and others stream in and line up in the front of the room. Some students laughed nervously at the unusual experience.
“We’re here to honor a very special student here at Live Oak,” Reitano announced. “Alexis Munson has been selected as student of the year.”
The room erupted in clapping and cheers. Munson stood up from her desk and her dad gave her a hug.
“What you may not know is that this is a pretty rigorous selection process. Alexis was nominated because not only is she an exemplary scholar and athlete at Live Oak but she is also representative to the school board,” Reitano said. “She exemplifies all these things that we hope Acorns are in the world. We’re really, really proud of her.”
Munson has a 4.3 GPA and is ranked in the top 10 percent of students in America. She has stayed involved in sports in track and basketball. She has also proven herself to be a young leader, serving as president of Live Oak High School’s first Black Student Union as well as a member of the Live Oak Student Voices committee. She is a Louis August Jonas Foundation alumna of Camp Rising Sun. This summer, she did a Santa Clara Library internship at the Morgan Hill Library, creating a community outreach event called “Human Library.” (Read about this in her Community Voices column on page 11 of this issue of Morgan Hill Life.)
Munson hopes to be accepted into Stanford University with a dream to one day work as a lawyer, possibly in the field of intellectual property.
When her family and other people unexpectedly walked into her calculus class for the special announcement, she felt nervous.
“I didn’t know what was going on and I got a little scared,” she said. “But I’m very glad that they were all able to make it … Thank you so much to my family for all the support they’ve given me. I definitely would not be here without my mother and father.”
At the Dec. 6 Good Morning Morgan Hill monthly breakfast in the banquet room at Mama Mia’s restaurant, Kathleen Rose was finishing a short talk on Measure X, the facility bond for Gavilan Community College, when Chamber CEO John Horner came up to her and asked her not to sit down yet.
“Every year we have this big event called Celebrate Morgan Hill in which we celebrate the best among us in order to bring out the best in all of us,” he told her. “And the community makes the nominations. Previous winners make the choice and through that process, you were selected as Educator of the Year, Dr. Rose.”
Breakfast attendees began clapping, and Rose received hugs of congratulations.
“I have to do an acceptance speech?” Rose asked jokingly. “Wow!”
She noted her curiosity at the many staff members and trustees from Gavilan attending that morning’s breakfast.
“I wondered really why there were so many Gavilan people here. Measure X, yes, is a big deal, but getting my staff here at 7:30 in the morning … I am … yes … very surprised,” she said. “Thank you so much for this honor. It is definitely my honor to serve this community in this district. This is the biggest, best, most … well, I am speechless. My staff would tell you that definitely doesn’t happen.”
Rose was hired in 2002 to be Gavilan’s vice president of instruction. After three years, she was named executive vice president, a position she remained in for seven years.
She was selected president of Gavilan three years ago and has worked on various projects including re-igniting the Gavilan College Educational Foundation and spearheading the plans for the college’s centennial anniversary in 2019.
She worked hard on community outreach to gain voter support for Measure X, which will bring $248 million to build a new campus in San Benito County and do long-deferred maintenance work at the Gilroy campus as well as build a new performing arts center there.
The best thing about her job is serving Gavilan’s students every day.
“I’ve spent a lot of time, almost 40 years, working in public education, working with students throughout the country and I love what I do and I love doing it here,” she said.
Editor’s note: We will profile the Volunteer of the Year and the Nonprofit of the Year in our next issue, followed by the Large and Small Businesses of the Year.