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By Collin Breaux | Twitter: @collin_breaux

Sergio Sanabria, who teaches math at Marco Forster Middle School in San Juan Capistrano, was recently named one of six Teachers of the Year by the Orange County Department of Education. He was the only teacher from Capistrano Unified School District among the honorees.

Orange County Superintendent Al Mijares and OCDE representatives surprised Sanabria and the other winners in their classrooms when announcing the awards.

“It was a very humbling experience for me,” Sanabria said. “I think when you get into the type of work like this, where you are trying to motivate others to do well and try to encourage others to be successful, you don’t really expect that to reciprocate itself back onto you.”

Marco Forster Middle School math teacher Sergio Sanabria was named a Teacher of the Year by the Orange County Department of Education. Photo: Collin Breaux

Sanabria initially got into teaching as a substitute teacher, later deciding to make it a full-time career because he felt called to help students.

“I told myself this is what I want to do,” he said. “Now that I’m doing that, it feels great to know you’ve positively impacted students’ lives.”

Sanabria, who has been teaching at Marco Forster Middle School for nine years, also has an afterschool tutoring program for students who want extra help. He and the other countywide winners are now eligible to compete for state and national honors, according to the OCDE.

“(Teaching) is just extremely gratifying for me, because it’s one of those jobs where you know you’ve made an impact in many students’ lives … but you also don’t know the impact you’ve made on a lot of students’ lives,” he said. “It’s not until years later, sometimes, where they come and tell you you’ve made an impact.”

Collin Breaux

Collin Breaux covers San Juan Capistrano and other South Orange County news as the City Editor for The Capistrano Dispatch. Before moving to California, he covered Hurricane Michael, politics and education in Panama City, Florida. He can be reached by email at

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