In acknowledgment of her exceptional work and longtime commitment to assist others to become more successful members of society, the Contra Costa County Office of Education (CCCOE) selected instructor Aster Tadesse as their 2010-2011 Teacher of the Year (TOY). For the past 14 years, Aster has been a health education and human development instructor for the Oakland Parole STAR program.
The STAR (Substance Abuse Treatment and Recovery) program is a curriculum-based educational program designed to motivate parolee substance abusers to participate in post-release recovery activities. New skills are presented which help individuals understand the relapse process and prepare for smooth, drug-free community transition. The core components of the STAR curriculum address the process of addiction, the method of recovery, anger management, and community transition, as well as other essential elements that provide participants with information designed to ease substance abuse recovery.
Before coming to the CCCOE, Aster worked with substance-abuse patients serving as the director of a methadone clinic in San Francisco and later worked with chemically addicted parole violators at the Santa Rita Jail in Pleasanton. "Working in these two environments, I found that to be effective, I had to combine counseling and psychotherapeutic methods with practical advice-giving to motivate and empower these clients," says Aster. "I would say that I see my fundamental role as that of an educator, someone who teaches students how to learn, not simply what to learn. I use inspiration, care, and humor to help my students deal with the demons that pursue them."
"The majority of Aster's students face significant barriers, and she assists them in facing their fears, and teaches them new ways of living their lives free of illegal drugs and alcohol dependence," says Principal Shannon Swain. "Through a curriculum that focuses on anger and stress management, effective communication skills, the development of healthy relationships, and relapse prevention tools, she continues her tireless quest to see all students succeed."
Aster has a B.A. degree in linguistics from Addiss Ababa University, located in her native country of Ethiopia, and earned her M.A. degree in clinical psychology from New College of California, in San Francisco. Additionally, she has received teaching credentials from CSU, Hayward; CSU, San Jose; and the University of Phoenix.