Debbie Tsubota was born in Chicago, IL and was raised in the northern part of the state, surrounded by lakes and farms. Growing up, the thought of living in the California desert never crossed her mind. As the eldest of four siblings and fifteen cousins, Debbie says “I grew up teaching, I always knew it was what I wanted to do.” After graduating high school, Debbie and her parents moved to California. Pursuing her dream of teaching, she earned her B.A. and teaching credential from CSU Fresno and a M.A. from Fresno Pacific University. Debbie was “persuaded” to teach in Trona while on a practice interview at that end of her senior year at Fresno and has been with the district now for 14 years.
Debbie began her career with Trona Joint Unified School District teaching kindergarten and first grade at Trona Elementary School. While her sons were growing up, she took some time off and volunteered as a full time Math and Language Arts instructor at the school they attended. She then returned to Trona Unified, teaching 7th, 8th and 9th grade English and Science classes. For the last three years she has been teaching 6th grade and will be teaching 4th grade at the elementary school this upcoming school year.
Debbie became active with MEEC about 3 years ago. She believes in challenging her students to give their best in all areas of their lives. As part of that challenge, she has led a group of students at MEEC’s YELC STEM Service Learning conference for that last two years. Their first year Service Learning project was a raised-bed, drought tolerant garden which was expanded and sustained by the next year’s class who also purchased a composter and recycling bins for their campus. “My students have enjoyed participating in the conferences. There has also been an obvious correlation between their ‘can do’ outlook about their service learning projects, and their attitude toward learning and school. They are proud of the work they have done and this has increased their confidence as they move up to middle school,” said Debbie.
Every year, Debbie takes advantage of as many MEEC teacher workshops and essay contests as possible. She loves taking the hands-on activities back to her classroom, but also values the networking experience with other teachers that the workshops provide. Teaching earth science to her 6th graders, Debbie got great use out of the renewable energy kits provided by MEEC. “The kids love showing off what they have learned with their kits during our Open House,” said Debbie. She was also selected to attend this summer’s Key Issues Institute training in Silverthorne, CO which she found to be an excellent experience. She cannot wait to share what she learned with her colleagues upon her return to school in the fall.