Forget the shiny red apple.

Teachers throughout the 28th Assembly District were honored at a pancake breakfast hosted by Assemblyman Luis Alejo on May 21 at a Salinas elementary school.

Ignacio OrnelasThe event – Dia del Maestro or Day of the Teacher – recognized bilingual and bicultural teachers nominated by local school districts.

“Teachers may well be the most under- appreciated and undervalued professionals in America today,”  Alejo said. “But when you ask successful people to name the most influential individual in their lives, teachers are named more than any other group.”

Among the honorees was CSUMB alumnus Ignacio Ornelas, who earned a degree in Social and Behavioral Studies in 2001. He teaches history at a high school in Salinas.

"CSUMB taught me about social justice, democratic participation and building a strong social network. These values inspired me to embark on a career that values humanity," he said.

"Today, I am privileged to teach the next generation of leaders."

He's doing that at Everett Alvarez High and at CSUMB, where he's an adjunct instructor of social and political histories of the United States.

"Another value I always credit to CSUMB is the ambition to pursue graduate studies. I was taught by a diverse group of faculty who always promoted graduate school," he said.

"I felt I would be a failure if I didn't complete a master's degree."

Mission accomplished – he earned a teaching credential and a master's in political science at San Francisco State.

He knows first-hand the impact education can have on an entire family, and can share that experience with his students.

"My five younger sisters saw that they, too, could pursue higher learning and achieve academic success. One of my sisters has already graduated from college, three of them will graduate in June and the youngest is completing her freshman year – all at UC Santa Barbara."