Meet Dawn (Whitney) Fregosa. Dawn is a Central Catholic alumna from the class of 1988. After graduating from CC, Dawn attended the University of Dayton. She then became involved with a Mad Science franchise in South Florida, which encouraged kids to learn about science through fun, after-school programs and activities. Dawn later sold that franchise and began consulting with small business automation around the US. While living in Santa Cruz, CA, Dawn saw a Teach for America advertisement that asked “Do you want to help urban kids succeed?” Dawn decided that she did.
Dawn first worked in middle school before choosing to leave mainstream public schools for the charter school world. Her teaching career evolved to teaching High School English before adding a credential in Biology. Dawn helped to found 3 high performing charter schools in urban San Jose and Oakland. She continued her education and training and earned Career Technical Credentials in Business, Finance, Sales, Service and Marketing as well as becoming a master teacher/trainer in Entrepreneurship through the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE). Dawn currently works at San Leandro High’s business academy.
In 2016, Dawn was presented with the John C. Whitehead Global Teacher of the Year award by NFTE. With that award, she was also given $5000, which she used to help one of her students who was homeless with college expenses.
Dawn was named the Bay Area Global Educator in 2012. She was also named a Microsoft Hero in Education that same year. She was also nominated by the San Francisco Giants as a teacher of the year by her students in 2011.
Dawn lives with her husband, Richard, who also attended private Catholic schools and is a Digital Audio Visual designer who designs and develops ‘smart’ houses and facilities such as the Patriots stadium and the White House. They have 2 children – Laurel and Tres.
Every year for Dawn’s birthday, she posts a Pay it Forward challenge that involves doing a kind act and posting it on her Facebook page. Her former students, who are now based all over the world, all participate. Dawn says, “The world wins because of the compassion of the humans I have taught.”
What do you enjoy most about your current position?
Always the kids. I currently get to inspire the entrepreneurial mindset of collaboration, innovation, integrity and relevance and rigor. I laugh, every day, with my students and at them sometimes, as well as at myself. I work 70-90 hours a week, and have few regrets, because anything worth doing is worth doing well, and someone who can do can always do. I love seeing humans in my three-year cohort grow, evolve, and find their passions.
How did your faith and your education at Central Catholic prepare you to serve others?
I was taught the value of a small community at CC. I was a member of the swim team, and with no pool at CC, we had to work harder and be more dedicated, being at the YMCA at 5 a.m. to practice. As well, I was a member of Band and Choir, a small community within the CC community. I have found myself, throughout my career tapestry, drawn to underserved niches, and helping them to build and thrive in small communities.
CC also taught me the importance of kindness and the love of humanity – accepting each other as humans and loving one another despite and because of our differences. In my current position, my students are 92% designated at risk, low income, special needs, impoverished, and second language learners, and I am creating solid business owners. I had teachers who believed in me, and believed in differences being appreciated at CC, and I took that with me in my career pathway.
The golden rule is something I still teach. If we make this non-negotiable in our business owners of tomorrow, imagine the difference that American Capitalism could be.
In what other areas have you been successful?
I have had numerous ‘wins’ in helping first generation, special needs, and other students that would never have achieved, believed or loved – who had no idea that there are humans who have a capacity to love authentically because their worlds have been filled with hate and violence and anger and poverty. I am awarded with every student that goes to college or is better for knowing me.
I have ‘won’ the self-esteem that a farmer only gets from seeing their flowers bloom and become fruits, and their fields become plentiful.