The Give-Back: GSOE Honors Dr. Herbert Fischer and Dr. Katherine Wright

Dean Thomas Smith presents Dr. Katherine Wright and Dr. Herbert Fischer with the Distinguished Alumni Award.

“I assure you, you’re in the right work. What you’re doing makes a great deal of difference,” said Dr. Herbert Fischer, GSOE alumni, donor and friend as he accepted the GSOE Distinguished Alumni Award at the school’s annual Fall Gathering.

It was a theme that resonated throughout the evening as students, alumni, faculty and staff gathered to celebrate the new academic year and honor two GSOE alumni who have made immeasurable contributions to the field of education: Dr. Herbert Fischer and Dr. Katherine Wright.

As a college student, inspired by the political uprising and wave of anti-Vietnam War student protests across the nation, Dr. Fischer decided he wanted to affect positive change — and he knew one way to do that was by becoming a teacher. He earned his teaching credential, master’s degree and doctorate from the University of California, Riverside, and would go on to serve as an elementary and high school principal, Superintendent at Colton Joint Unified School District, and district administrator in the San Bernardino City Unified School District for 22 years before retiring as its Superintendent of Schools in 2008.

Under Dr. Fischer’s leadership, schools’ Academic Performance Index (API) average, countywide, saw seven consecutive years of growth, and during his tenure, the county schools joined forces with local leaders to start Alliance for Education is San Bernardino County, a premier partnership between business and education.

Today, Dr. Fischer and his wife Dr. Cheryl Fischer fund a scholarship for GSOE teacher education candidates who attended San Bernardino County schools, and provide college-going opportunities to San Bernardino County students in need of financial support through the “Drs. Herb and Cheryl Fischer Scholarship Fund.”

Dr. Katherine Wright was also honored at the event for her commitment to education. She moved to Riverside with her military family in the fourth grade, and as a young girl, she would ride her bike and roller skate around campus. It’s no surprise that, when she decided to advance her career in education, she turned to UC Riverside, where she would earn her master’s degree and administrative services credential.

Dr. Wright began her career as a teacher in the Banning Unified School District, then joined the Riverside’s Alvord Unified School District, where she retired as its Superintendent after 37 years of service. She remains active in the Riverside community, and has served on the Dean’s advisory committee in the Graduate School of Education and as a Trustee for the UCR Foundation.

Dr. Wright and her husband Dwight established the “Bridge to Success Teacher Education Scholarship Fund,” a program that helps bridge the financial gap for students pursuing a teacher credential program. To date, the scholarship has been awarded to five students and has impacted countless lives.

No stranger to motivating and inspiring the next generation of educators, Dr. Wright offered these words of encouragement to the GSOE community as she accepted her award: “I want you all to know, you are in the right place.”