Teacher Talk Profiles

Teacher Talk


Teacher Talk is a series of profiles on California teachers and other educators.

Teacher Talk

Cecilia Estrada, retired 2003, San Diego Unified School District
Former administrator just couldn’t quit working. She developed parent education workshops, now runs learning center.

Cecilia Estrada sits with a laptop and colorful learning materials for children.

Former teacher and administrator Cecilia Estrada began her career in 1966 and tried to retire 37 years later. After a quick break, she ended up working for Price Philanthropies in San Diego. Now she’s working with students again—from pre-school to high school—as director of a learning center.

Teacher Talk

Margaret Hicks, Oak Tree Community Day School
Teacher focuses on building relationships with students

Teacher Margaret Hicks wears a blue sweater and white shirt and smiles.

Margaret Hicks builds connections with her fifth and sixth grade students, challenging the traditional model of discipline in her work at Oak Tree Community Day School in Palmdale.

“Our students generally come to us for behavioral referrals. Sometimes students are placed there due to expulsion. Our class size is generally small, so we can help build those skills that students are lacking at bigger campuses, where there are classes of more than 30 students,” Hicks said.

Teacher Talk

Marcia Benjamin, Laney College
Love of swimming turned this coach into a teacher

Marcia Benjamin smiles, wearing bright glasses and a scarf.

When budget cuts hit Laney College’s Kinesiology Department, Marcia Benjamin added a side gig teaching a fee-based swimming class at the college to keep returning students afloat. This water-loving educator even founded her own U.S. Masters Swim team that welcomes swimmers of all abilities from recreational to triathletes. She thinks helping adults get over their fear of water and accomplish things they didn’t think possible with swimming is “the best part of teaching.”

Teacher Talk

Bob Brown, Retired 2014, Simi Valley Unified School District
Former math teacher promotes importance of listening

Retired teacher Bob Brown stands on a cliff, next to a lake.

In 2017, retired high school math teacher Bob Brown and his wife Elizabeth discovered the Empathy Tent during an event in Los Angeles and found their calling in retirement.

The Empathy Tent—a pop-up canopy set up in public spaces—encourages constructive dialogue among people with different views to de-escalate and connect. It was started by San Francisco Bay Area resident Edwin Rutsch, the founding director of the Center for Building a Culture of Empathy.