Donner Trail Elementary educator 12th Teacher of the Year finalist
Special to the Bonanza
TRUCKEE, Calif. — The Teacher of the Year committee selected Eric Rohlf as the 12th Truckee Hometown Sears-Sierra Sun Teacher of the Year finalist.
Rohlf currently works as a computer teacher at both Glenshire Elementary and Donner Trail Elementary schools. Rohlf was praised for his enthusiasm and commitment to helping all students and teachers on campus.
“He’s always available to help us make our lives better,” wrote one colleague nominator.
“Technology is becoming such a powerful, quick changing tool for education,” said Glenshire Elementary principal Kathleen Gauthier. “Glenshire is truly blessed to have something with Eric’s knowledge and patience to lead us in this field.”
On May 29, Shelly Wright of Plumas Bank; Michael Gelbman, publisher of the Sierra Sun; and Charlie Riley, owner of Truckee Hometown SEARS, presented Rohlf with a Teacher of the Year finalist certificate, a $50 gift certificate to Office Boss, courtesy of Plumas Bank, and a $50 gift certificate from Truckee Hometown SEARS.
Rohlf, originally from North Carolina, came to California to study Psychology at the University of California, Santa Cruz. After graduating, Rohlf moved to Truckee to enjoy the recreation opportunities.
He worked as a River Guide and doing odd jobs in construction. He later worked in the Tahoe Truckee Unified School District Special Friend Program, helping elementary students who were having trouble adjusting to school.
Rohlf continued along an education career path by attending University of Nevada, Reno, and earning both Elementary and Special Education teaching credentials.
Rohlf has always been interested in technology and spent some time working as an aid in a computer lab. He joined the staff of Glenshire Elementary when it first opened as a computer teacher and in addition has worked as the computer teacher at Donner Trail Elementary for the past 16 years.
Each week Rohlf sees every student at Glenshire Elementary during 30- to 45-minute computer classes. Younger students focus on skills based activities while older students work on projects that support content they are learning in their regular classrooms.
Rohlf works with teachers to develop projects that incorporate what they are studying. Fifth graders used SCRATCH, a computer program developed by the MIT Media Lab, to create presentations on the animals they studied at Pigeon Point tide pools.
Fourth graders used Green Screen technology to create video reports on the Gold Rush. Third graders used Google Earth to find local historical locations when studying Truckee History.
Rohlf spends four days of the week at Glenshire Elementary and one day a week at Donner Trail Elementary. At Donner Trail, he also works with all of the students and teachers. Donner Trail principal Susan Phebus describes Eric as warm, patient and caring.
“The technology that Donner Trail students acquire is Eric Rohlf’s responsibility, and students do graduate from Donner Trail knowing how to infuse technology into various projects, research papers, etc.,” said Phebus. “Donner Trail is fortunate to have Eric as our computer teacher!”
Rohlf is quick to point out that his work is possible due to Measure A funding and the supportive Tahoe community.
Measure A is a flat parcel tax that funds materials and staffing for technology, arts, physical education and other enrichment classes and services for K-12 students.
Rohlf is grateful for the Tahoe Truckee community support of this funding and his technology program.
Teachers who work with Rohlf appreciate all he does for students but also recognize his efforts to support themselves and their technology needs.
“If asked to explain how something works, (or doesn’t work), Eric can explain the problem and solution in laymen’s’ terms,” wrote one colleague nominator. “Eric meets with teachers before, during, and after school to help them with projects and problems. It is reassuring to have someone with his knowledge and expertise available on our campus.”
Rohlf is happy to help all of the students and teachers. He enjoys problem solving and finds it very rewarding to come up with solutions for any technology problem.
“I have always enjoyed helping people, it comes from my parents,” said Rohlf.
Working with so many great students is what inspires Rohlf’s enthusiasm.
“It’s got to be the kids, otherwise I don’t think teachers would keep coming back if it wasn’t for the kids,” said Rohlf. “The funny things they say, the looks on their faces, it makes your day.”
Rohlf’s goal each day is to keep the students engaged, their brains working, and their neurons firing. His students’ creative projects and technological skills attest to Rohlf’s success.