2008 Teacher of the Year

Saint Mary's Kalmanovitz School of Education and River of Words Celebrate our Teachers of the Year!

River of Words / Kalmanovitz School of Education 2008 Teacher of the Year  

John Robrock, of San Benito High School; Hollister, California

John W. Robrock grew up surrounded by nature in Cheyenne, Wyoming, with summers spent visiting his uncles' Iowa corn farms. Totally inept at art in high school, he majored in Studio Art at the University of Wyoming because he loved art and wanted to learn to draw like the Old Masters.

His first teaching jobs were in Edgemont, South Dakotam and in Douglas, Wyoming. He returned to UW for an MFA in Life Drawing and Painting. Upon graduation in 1989, his only job offer was at Hawthorne High School, in the shadow of Los Angeles National Airport.

John doubted he could tolerate the hardscape/landscape of LA, but soon learned to take advantage of Los Angeles County's rich cultural environment, offering numerous high school art competitions. He found the contests opened doors for his low income students of diverse backgrounds. The Art Center College of Design founded a grant to charter a van binging ten of his students to Pasadena for Saturday art enrichment classes.

In 1996, he left to follow his wife's career as a Cultural Affairs Officer in the Us Consulate-Milan and US Embasse-Buenos Aires. After they returned to the US, in 2001 he began teaching drawing and painting at San Benito High School in Hollister, California. He was especially excited to learn of ROW because of the limited opportunities for young artists to receive recognition for their quality work, and because of Hollister's own landscapes.

Why have so many of his students won the River of Words contest and the California Coastal Commission Youth Art Contest? "I teach the fundamentals of drawing and painting techniques and color," he says. "I demand excellence and won't accept what I see as incomplete work. I'm enthusiastic about nature and ecology. But the students come up with the ideas - who can say where those come from? They surprise me every year."