Dorothy Boyajian Grant
Dorothy Grace Boyajian taught in our school district for over 50 years. She attended district schools (Turnbull Elementary and San Mateo High), and San Francisco State, with postgraduate studies at the University of California, Stanford, and the College of Notre Dame. She began her teaching career as a student teacher at North Shoreview, and joined its staff upon college graduation. She retired from Sunnybrae in 2004.
Dorothy was a born teacher. She was also a poet and a mentor in creative writing. Her poem “Philosophy of Teaching” reflects her commitment to children and joy in teaching. The poem begins, “People ask me why I teach. The answer is the hearts and minds I reach.” It concludes:
For in all the world we cannot find
Anything as fascinating and challenging as a child's mind.
I'm happy and challenged each day
To teach and help each child learn in his or her unique way.
So why do I teach? It's no mystery.
Where could I find a better job, or more pleasant company?
Dorothy believed that children should be aware of the larger world and should play a part in it. So, she brought the world into her classroom, inviting media representatives, writers, elected officials, parents, and others to share their knowledge of different professions and cultures. Her students contributed to local newspaper columns, corresponded with U.S. Presidents and other prominent figures, and participated in the Children as Peacemakers project, exchanging letters, ideas, and gifts with world leaders. During the celebration of the bicentennial of the Constitution, they wrote to the Justices of the Supreme Court to ask for their insights into the role of the Constitution in today's society.
Both professionally and in the community, Dorothy received many honors. In 1987, she was inducted into the San Mateo County Women's Hall of Fame. She was named Teacher of the Year by the San Mateo City School District and by San Mateo County in 1989-1990, and she was once judged to be one of the top 40 teachers in the U.S. Upon her retirement, Hon. Tom Lantos published an article, “A Tribute to Ms. Dorothy Grace Boyajian on Her 53 Years of Dedicated Service,” in the United States Congressional Record. And each year at the San Mateo County Martin Luther King, Jr., Celebration, the Dorothy Boyajian Honored-Teacher Award is presented to a teacher who reflects the teaching role and ideals of Dr. King. Personally, Dorothy was a philanthropist who generously supported many causes, including scholarship funds, libraries, and programs for foster children.
Dorothy lived and taught by the motto, “If you have the flame of knowledge, then light the candle of others.” During her many years as a Master Teacher, she influenced and inspired the minds and hearts of thousands of students who had the good fortune to be in her classroom. On behalf of Sunnybrae Elementary School and the San Mateo-Foster City School District, we would like to honor Dorothy for her dedication to these children. We also acknowledge with thanks the Dorothy Boyajian Endowment for its generous yearly gift. This endowment, established as a living legacy and memorial to Dorothy by her cousin, Joyce Mkitarian, supports Sunnybrae School by funding such programs as scholarship awards, technology enhancement, donations to the Martin Luther King speech contest, field trips, and subscriptions to online and print publications for kids.
One of Dorothy's favorite quotations
Good, better, best,
Never let it rest,
Until your good is better
And your better is the best.
Good, better, best,
Now dear friend you can rest,
Knowing your good was better
And your better was the best.
Here is a a newspaper article from the Daily Journal honoring Dorothy.