Teacher Overcomes Life Obstacles to Become Teacher of the Year

Dec. 13, 2007 By Jenna Bartlo

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LA MIRADA, CALIF. — California Teacher of the Year Michael Long did not come from the affluent background one might expect when looking at him. This clean-cut, well-dressed and articulate teacher was raised in humble beginnings by his parents who were migrant farmers.

Long recalled his childhood where he was the token “dirty kid” in class, who didn’t get the best grades and seemed destined for a hopeless future.

“I wasn’t the smart kid, with the highest test scores,” Long said. But he credits his teachers for believing in him and his ability, regardless of his background. “I know I am here because of people who believed in me and poured into my life and future,” Long said.

Long went on to earn a Bachelor of Arts in Liberal Studies in 1994 and Master of Arts in Education in 1999, both from Biola University, where he also received a Multiple Subject Teaching Credential.

The Biola alumnus, was honored at a reception on Tues., Dec. 11, for receiving the State of California Teacher of the Year Award for 2008.

Present at the reception were Long's former teachers from Biola's education department and current students from his fourth and fifth grade combination class at Carmela Elementary School in Whittier, Calif.

Receiving the State of California award for Teacher of the Year was a great honor for Long, who said, "It's a blessing. But at the end of the day that is why I do it," he said as he pointed to a table full of his students. “I’ll do anything to show these kids that they, too, can go anywhere.”


Biola University, founded in 1908, will celebrate 100 years of biblically centered Christian education on February 24. Located in La Mirada, Calif., on the border of LA and Orange Counties, Biola is recognized by U.S. News & World Report as a “National University,” which they consider the “major leagues” of higher education. Biola offers 145 academic programs through its seven schools, ranging from the B.A. to the Ph.D. For more information, visit www.biola.edu.

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