Mr. Toby Rugger, April’s Teacher of the Month

Toby Rugger TOTM selfie IMG_5729826 Valencia is thrilled to present our April Teacher of the Month, Mr. Toby Rugger! Mr. Toby teaches English at San Francisco International High School, a school in the Mission for recent immigrant students that focuses on English development. Mr. Toby is known for implementing creative curriculum, building trust with his students, and establishing an inclusive learning environment.

Students appreciate that Mr. Toby makes learning English fun and engaging. One student remembers performing Romeo and Juliet in class: “… it was hard for me to understand because I had never practiced a word of English in my home country of El Salvador, but thanks to this strategy I was able to understand the play and also learn in a fun way.”

Mr. Toby strives to build trust in his classroom. He makes time for one-on-one check-ins and creates a space for all of his students to practice their English without embarrassment.

“I never felt as comfortable in any class as I felt in his class,” says a former student.

Mr. Toby also co-founded the school’s Gay Straight Alliance. Throughout the year, he organizes programs to raise awareness of LGBTQ issues and to create a safe environment for all students. One colleague observes this has changed “the atmosphere around bullying and using homophobic slurs.”

This fall, Mr. Toby supported GSA leaders in the Rainbow Project, as they presented in different classrooms about LGBTQ communities and equal rights. A fellow teacher writes of the project’s impact, saying “some students came out for the first time to their classmates . . . There is now a huge rainbow gracing our school walls composed of notes by our student body celebrating our school’s diversity.”

As one colleague attests, Mr. Toby could be “Teacher of the Month, Year, Decade, etc.”

Our hats off to you, Mr. Toby! Your contributions to your students and to your community are truly commendable.

Read about our Teacher of the Month program.