Real Heroes: Educator

Eric Singleton has been a teacher at Vista High School in south Bakersfield for eight years. He keeps kids motivated to graduate and has also opened his own home to students in need.
Ten people or groups will be honored Saturday as Real Heroes, by the Kern chapter of the American Red Cross.

This year's 'Educator' hero is a teacher whose compassion for students and lessons outside the classroom are motivating at-risk kids to graduate.

Eric Singleton has been a business teacher at Vista Continuation High School in south Bakersfield for eight years.

But for him, this isn't work.

"I have fun. I teach a subject I enjoy. I enjoy my accounting class because so many of my students don't believe they can do accounting type work," said Singleton.

His colleagues say Mr. Singleton has a knack for getting kids to believe in themselves, where others have failed.

"We tend to have some of the tougher cases here and he's able to get to many of them by using humor and not being as much of a controlling individual as some teachers tend to be," said Brian Mlenar, Social Studies teacher.

"He's really funny and the way he teaches is really good. Like I understand him fully. He always puts a smile on my face when I go to class," said senior Johnny Chhang.

But, not all of Mr. Singleton's teaching is done inside the classroom. He also secures funding to take his students on field trips to businesses and places like the Rose Bowl, the Staples Center and even UCLA.

"Every year, I try my best to make it to a college campus. Growing up I didn't think I was gonna go to college. My mom worked at a college and I didn't think I was going to college. I think these students need to know they can make it out of college," said Singleton.

One thing the students do know is that Mr. Singleton cares about each and every one of them.

In fact, a few years ago, he and his wife opened their own home to two students who were going through a rough time. 

"These kids were great kids and I had no hesitation when I knew they needed a place to stay. I felt our home was where they needed to be," said Singleton.

Now, those students are in college and doing well, which is Mr. Singleton's goal for all of the kids he comes in contact with.

"I would be honored to have my daughter in his classroom. I've seen him teach. I know what he's like and he's a special guy," said Mlenar.

If you would like to honor Eric Singleton and the other real heroes, join us Saturday, April 6th at the Bakersfield Jet Center by Loyd's Aviation.

For tickets, call the Red Cross at 324-6427 or visit www.redcross.org/kernchapter
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