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Erica Viray Santos Named SLUSD Teacher of the Year

Contact: Keziah Moss, Director of Community & Employee Engagement

SAN LEANDRO, CA, May 6, 2021 –  San Leandro High School’s own Erica Viray Santos was nominated by her peers to represent SLUSD as one of the Alameda County Office of Education’s Teachers of the Year. Ms. Viray teaches in the Social Studies department and the Social Justice Academy (SJA) at San Leandro High School, which she has coordinated since it was founded. She has been an integral part of the SLHS Pirate family since 2008 and has been a highly influential teacher/leader in SJA throughout that time. 

Some of the comments from her peers that led to her receiving this well-deserved award include:

Ms. Viray’s commitment to cultivating transformative education in San Leandro has made me challenge my teaching frameworks, pedagogies, and practices.  It is with great privilege that I have the opportunity to work with Ms. Viray. 

Erica is the soul of San Leandro High School. She works hard to create a meaningful curriculum and advocate for policy changes alongside her students. We learn so much from her advocacy for and empowerment of students at SLHS.

Ms. Viray is a force of nature. During this challenging time, she has managed to keep her students engaged, learning, and attending school every day!  Her work goes beyond the classroom every year, but this year, in particular, she has helped our community grieve and heal.

Erica amplifies student voices like no other – finding ways to deeply listen to students and create a community that acknowledges all that students bring – their experiences, history and culture, pain, and joy.  She puts so much heart, time, and passion into making SLHS a nurturing and just learning environment for students, carving out space for students to bring their whole selves, and empowering youth to be leaders and change agents in their communities.

Ms. Viray has created a strong culture of leadership and connectedness for all students in the Social Justice Academy. Their work is inspiring to staff and students and works as a model for how teachers can also create a culture of meaning and success that extends beyond the classroom. 

Erica doesn’t just bring out the best in her students, and she brings out the leaders in her students. She empowers her students to make real change in our school and community. More importantly, she helps students create community and builds her students up. I always love, love, love having her SJA students in my classroom. They were terrific students before Erica folded them into the Social Justice Academy, and they become shining stars with her love and guidance.

Please join all of San Leandro Unified in congratulating Ms. Viray and see more of the transformative work happening in SJA at their website:

About the San Leandro Unified School District

The San Leandro Unified School District operates a comprehensive TK-12 program and an adult school at campuses throughout San Leandro. The district educates its students by utilizing state-of-the-art technologies and innovative teaching strategies to help students achieve academic excellence and become collaborative and competitive in a global society. For more information, visit


McKinley Elementary

2150 E. 14th St., San Leandro, CA 94577
Phone: 510-618-4320
Fax: 510-346-6087

Email: communications@slusd.us510-352-5399

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