OXNARD : Instructor at Rose Is Teacher of the Year

For 20 years, Oxnard elementary schoolteacher Lydia Cruz-Machlitt has gotten up in the morning with fresh enthusiasm for another working day.

“I like helping a new generation learn and knowing that I am part of their future,” Cruz-Machlitt said. “I still wake up in the morning looking forward to teaching.”

This year, the 40-year-old Rose Avenue School teacher is celebrating her 20th year of teaching with the title Tri-County 1994 Teacher of the Year for gifted and talented students. She was selected from more than 50 nominees for her work in bilingual education.

Margaret Gosfield, a spokeswoman for the California Assn. for the Gifted, said that in addition to her teaching duties, Cruz-Machlitt provides workshops throughout the state in bilingual education.


A native of Puerto Rico, Cruz-Machlitt has been teaching elementary school in Oxnard since 1980. In the past five years, she has been teaching second- and third-graders in the Gifted and Talented Education program. Most of her students are bilingual.

Parents see her not only as a teacher but as a friend who is available when they need help.

“I was having a lot of problems with each of my children and Lydia took the time to talk to me about those problems,” said Yoshiko Iwamoto, 38, the mother of three students who all have had Cruz-Machlitt as a teacher.

Another mother, Benita Sandoval, 39, whose two children took classes with Cruz-Machlitt, said the teacher can be a close friend to the students and parents.

“My children improved greatly with her,” Sandoval said, “and she always treats the kids and the parents like friends.”

Involving parents in the education of their children is one of Cruz-Machlitt’s greatest abilities, said Dennis Johnson, Rose Avenue’s principal.

“She has a pleasant, kind of magnetic charismatic personality which draws parents into the program,” Johnson said.