January 28, 2020

For more information:

Fran Rozoff, Olive School Teacher, [email protected], 415 897-2131

NUSD Teachers Make a Difference – One Student at a Time

(Novato, CA)…  Every day teachers affect their students’ lives, but rarely do they have an opportunity to see those student successes long after they’ve left their classroom.  Not so for this one student and teacher.

Alexei Ramirez McAllister was born in Guadalajara, Mexico, in 1997 and came to Novato with his mother soon after.  He attended Olive Elementary School and he needed help with English as it was challenging.  “Third grade was a turning point in my education,” said Alexei.  Ms. Tucker, Alexei’s Third Grade teacher, tutored him in all subjects before she moved at the end of the year.  “Thanks to her, my English improved tremendously, but I was still far from where she knew I could be.”

“In Fourth Grade, I met another incredible teacher, Mrs. Rozoff, who changed my life in more ways than I can count,” said Alexei.  “While Third Grade marked the beginning of my success, Fourth Grade reinforced the foundation that was set.”  Fran Rozoff was Alexei’s Fourth Grade teacher and has been teaching at Olive Elementary School for 28 years.

“Alexei was a quiet, focused student, determined to do his best. His kindness, willingness to help, and his ability to treat everyone fairly is how I remember him as a fourth grader.  He came to school every day with a smile on his face, ready to tackle the next academic challenge,” observed Fran Rozoff.  “In fourth grade, Alexei was completely absorbed in opportunities to learn more about California history during our visits to the Sonoma Mission and the State Capitol.  He was also fascinated with the Lawrence Hall of Science curriculum we piloted that year and became immersed in the process of raising dragonflies in the classroom.”

At the end of Fourth Grade, Alexei moved to Orange County.  It was a difficult move after 8 years in Novato.  “Thanks to the dedication and love of Mrs. Rozoff, I was placed in the Gifted and Talented Education (GATE) program,” said Alexei.  From there he progressed through middle school and was then faced with a choice of two high schools:  one more academic and the other more athletic.  He chose the more academic high school. During high school, he fell in love with science and was selected to participate in a two-week medical immersion program at University of California, Irvine.  He worked hard during high school to get into his dream college: University of California, Los Angeles.

Life took another turn when he wasn’t accepted to UCLA in his high school senior year.  That didn’t stop Alexei!  He enrolled in Irvine Valley College and after two years, was accepted to all the schools in applied to, including UCLA.

Last year, Alexei graduated from the University of California, Los Angeles with a Bachelor of Science in Psychobiology.  He and his family invited Mrs. Rozoff to attend and it was a heartfelt reunion.

“Alexei was in his senior year in high school, when he came back to the Bay Area with his mom and grandmother to visit me at Olive School.  He was very excited about the prospects of attending college and asked for my advice. We talked for a while and I told him how proud I was of his success, and that when he graduated from college, I would be honored to attend.  Four years later, watching him receive his diploma at the UCLA graduation, I was overwhelmed with happiness for him, but also great respect for his family who had persevered to help Alexei fulfill his dream,” said Fran Rozoff.

Alexei commented “…I want to especially thank my mom for her unconditional love and support, and Mrs. Rozoff.  Without all of you, I would not be where I am now, so thank you!”

“Many years have gone by since I first met Alexei, the shy, hardworking young student in my fourth-grade classroom at Olive School.  I have been fortunate enough to see him mature into the talented, successful adult he is today.   As I relayed to his mom in an email shortly after he moved to Costa Mesa in 2007, ‘The students loved him for his kindness, calm manner and his creative and academic talents.  I know whatever he chooses to do, he will be successful.  But most of all, he is a caring, affectionate, respectful young man.’ As a teacher, you truly do not know the lives you affect and it’s heartwarming to learn when you do,” reflects Mrs. Rozoff.

# # # #