9-22-2017 – Corona – Meet Kathleen Magana! She is a 5th grade teacher at Garretson Elementary!
Kathleen was born at the Queen of the Angel Hospital in East Los Angeles. She grew up in Covina, California.
“My parents could not afford housing, so we rented two rooms from my uncle,” she said, “Having a stay-at-home mom with Spina Bifida and confined to a wheelchair, and a father who was a truck driver, we could not afford much, but my parents provided what they could.”
At the end of fifth grade, Kathleen and her family moved to the High Desert.
“My uncle announced he was getting married and we needed to find another place to live. The year was 1986, and housing in the High Desert was very affordable.”
Kathleen graduated from Apple Valley High School in 1992 and went on to attend California State University, San Bernardino (CSUSB). She earned a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and a Bachelor of Arts in Liberal Studies. With the ultimate goal of becoming a teacher, Kathleen earned her teaching credential in 1998. In 2003, she graduated with a Master’s in Education with an emphasis in Reading.
Kathleen had dreamed of becoming a teacher ever since she was in fourth grade.
“I remember each of my teachers and how they inspired me,” she said, “That’s what I hope to do for my students. I want them to know that education is the key to success. I want them to be inspired to dream big and know that I am there for them 100 percent.”
Kathleen began her career with CNUSD in 1998. She has spent all 20 years of her teaching career at Garretson Elementary. Throughout her years of teaching, Kathleen has taught second, third, fifth, and sixth grade.
“I have taught third grade the longest, 11 years,” she said, “but I am currently teaching fifth grade.”
Her favorite part about teaching is walking into her classroom with her students every morning.
“Being the best district ever with strong leadership and organization, being hired by CNUSD was a dream come true” said Kathleen, “I was just as grateful my first year teaching, knowing I would be influencing future generations through education, as I am today. Working for CNUSD and knowing we have a family of teachers, administrators, and support staff that is dedicated to children and their success makes me proud of our outstanding district.”
Kathleen always tries to remember what it’s like to be a kid. In her classroom, she keeps a childhood picture of herself as a 5th grader to remind her students that she too was once their age.
Her most memorable experience is donating her hair to Locks of Love.
“In 2011, I donated my hair to Locks of Love with a student and my daughter,” she said, “It was such a special experience for all 3 of us to donate our hair, and it was my student’s first time getting her hair done in a hair salon.”
She has created countless memories throughout the years, from the day to day activities, to the special moments and celebrations.
“Having been only at Garretson, I have cherished the special people who have come and gone, and those who have stayed,” said Kathleen, “We live by the phrase, Once a Gator, Always a Gator, every person who has taught, been an administrator, or has been another special part of Garretson, has always held a special place in my heart.”
Kathleen begins her day by waking up her three children to get ready for school. Her daughter attends River Heights Intermediate and her two sons attend Garretson.
“Yes, I get to take my kids to work with me everyday!,” she said, “I always thought being a teacher would be the ultimate profession to have with a family. Although I have to wear many hats during the day as Mrs. Magana and Mom, I wouldn’t have it any other way. I try to take in every moment of my children being young and coming to school with me because soon enough they will be in high school and college.”
Kathleen constantly teaches Growth Mindset (positive thinking) and Problem Solving.
“I once heard from a student she couldn’t do their homework because she didn’t have the electricity at her home that night,” said Kathleen, “With that student, we problem solved that she could do her homework in the morning when the sun came up. Never give excuses, and always look for a solution.”
Kathleen provides her students with what they need.
“Students come to school with broken shoes, shoes too big or small, so I bring shoes that are just their size,” she said, “I know I am not the only teacher to do these small things that will be big things in the memories of these children. We have so many compassionate teachers and staff members that are truly there for children, and we know that we cannot teach from the book until we teach from the heart.”
She keeps a snack basket in her classroom.
“I have students whose parents’ car didn’t start, so they were late to school and didn’t get breakfast,” she said, “For those students, I have a snack basket they can grab from. One student actually told me, ‘I got my power back!’ after she ate a snack from the basket mid-morning.”
Katherine always goes above and beyond for her students.
“Her enthusiasm, love, and passion for teaching, and her students, are some of the reasons why she is so highly admired and respected in our community,” said Ana Luna, Garretson Elementary Principal, “She goes above and beyond to ensure our students and community have an amazing experience at our school.”
Kathleen’s hobby is doing volunteer work in her community.
“I have been Garretson’s Relay for Life Team Captain for the past 6 years and I am the Navigator (President) of the Corona-Norco YMCA Adventure Guide Program,” she said, “When I do have free time, I enjoy going to the movies.”
Her favorite movie of all time is Sweet Home Alabama and her favorite actress is Reese Witherspoon.
“Movies and popcorn with my family is all I need,” she said.
Her three children, Brooke, Roman, and Jacob, are all very involved in sports. From softball to baseball to hockey, Kathleen and her kids are always busy!
“I love the phrase, if you think my schedule is full, you should see my heart,” she said, “My children make me very proud with all of their accomplishments!”
The Magana family dog is a 7-year-old cocker spaniel mix named Bailey after the Los Angles Kings mascot.
“She is very loved and spoiled by all three kids,” said Kathleen.
Earlier this year, Kathleen was recognized for her volunteer service in the community.
“I was honored to receive the Beyond the Classroom Award by the Corona Chamber of Commerce in January 2017 for my volunteer service in the community with the YMCA and Relay for Life,” she said, “I was recognized by the CNUSD Board of Education at the District Board meeting in February 2017. I am very humbled and honored to have been recognized!”
Here are a few words of encouragement from Kathleen:
“Sometimes fear can hold us back. Fear of doing something wrong or not good enough. I have been incredibly shy my whole life, but with experiences and leadership opportunities, I have gained a greater confidence. A good friend once told me, ‘Do something you’re afraid of doing every day that will make you a better person and help you reach your goals!’ I have always lived by these words and try every day to be a better person than I was the day before. My advice to everyone is to do whatever you have to do to reach your goals and don’t let fear of failure get in your way. Don’t try to please anyone but yourself. Be yourself and make yourself proud.