GGUSD Teacher Earns County Award for Prevention Education

Santiago Teacher Shannon Bennett with students

Santiago High School Health teacher Shannon Bennett was recognized this week for her leadership in the area of drug and alcohol prevention. During a surprise celebration organized by her students, family, and the Orange County Department of Education (OCDE), Bennett was presented with the 2022 Linda Kearns Community Prevention Award from the Orange County Substance Abuse Prevention Network.

OCDE Prevention Coordinator Stephan Lambert and Program Specialist Ryan Crowdis recognized Bennett for building one of the strongest and most consistent Friday Night Live Clubs in Orange County. She has served as Club Advisor for 10 years, and has spearheaded powerful efforts that engage young people in substance abuse prevention initiatives.

“A key reason for the club’s success is Shannon’s supportive presence and genuine interest in her students’ well-being,” said Lambert. “For many students, she is their trusted adult, ally, and mentor–a strong protective factor against substance use and other risk behaviors.”

Bennett’s FNL Club cheered her on during the celebration which was also attended by her husband and son, nearly a dozen colleagues from OCDE, Santiago Principal Christine Pijl and GGUSD Board of Education Trustee Teri Rocco.

In addition to her leadership with FNL, Bennett also serves as Santiago High School’s Tobacco-Use Prevention Education (TUPE) lead, organizing parent education events and maintaining strong community partnerships to support her students’ learning about topics like the dangers of vaping.

Bennett was also recognized for serving as one of 20 educators in the state to update the state’s Health Framework, advocated for inclusive information and resources for health-related topics taught in schools across the state.

“Shannon is an amazing representation of how deeply GGUSD educators care for students and how much time and talent they invest in advocating for the best interests of their students,” said Board of Education Trustee Walter Muneton.

OCSAPN established this award in 2006 to honor educators like Linda Kearns who dedicated 30 years of work in the fields of youth alcohol, tobacco, drugs, violence, HIV/AIDS, and teen pregnancy prevention, as well as positive youth development in Orange County.