A San Ysidro teacher who has helped troubled students succeed was honored with the Bishop Charles Francis Buddy Award at the University of San Diego Dec. 6. The award, named for one of USD’s co-founders, is presented each year to a USD graduate in recognition of extraordinary contribution and commitment to humanitarian causes.
As author of the school’s “Challenge Program,” Ray Lozada has empowered low-performing students with disciplinary and family problems to recognize their academic potential. His class has one of the school’s highest attendance ratings, a nearly 100 percent graduation rate and a waiting list.
Helping students who have previously failed to learn to attend school regularly, do homework and behave responsibly is often a struggle but one that pays off in the end, Lozada says. “I’ve found that the power of praise is enormous. If you tell students you believe in them, they start to believe in themselves.”
“Ray teaches his students that they are ultimately the authors of their own lives,” says Jack Kelly, director of Alumni Relations at USD. “We are proud to honor him for the commitment and dedication he has brought to the classroom.”
Lozada, who also coaches youth sports, says he was inspired to become a teacher by his grandfather, a single father who taught himself English and sent two daughters to college. Both Lozada’s mother and aunt went on to become teachers.
Lozada was named Teach-er of the Year for the San Ysidro School District in 2000 and was one of 10 finalists for San Diego County Teacher of the Year. He has been named Teacher of the Year three times at San Ysidro Middle School, most recently in 2001. He was recognized as one of the 50 People to Watch in 2001 by “San Diego Magazine.”He earned a bachelor’s degree in anthropology from USD in 1984 and a master’s degree in education from the United States International University in 1988.
The University of San Diego is a Catholic institution of higher learning chartered in 1949; the school enrolls approximately 7,000 students and is known for its commitment to teaching, the liberal arts, the formation of values and community service. The establishment of the Joan B. Kroc School of Peace Studies will bring the University’s total number of schools and colleges to six. Other academic divisions include the College of Arts and Sciences and the schools of Business Administration, Education, Law and Nursing and Health Science.