12 Inspirational Quotes from the 2015 Golden Dot Award Winners

The Golden Dot Awards are an opportunity to honor the hard work and dedication of Green Dot’s outstanding teachers, administrators, and staff. This year, we asked each of the winners to share the best career advice they received that helped them get to where they are today.

The result is a set of inspirational quotes, advice and stories from which anyone can benefit.

Core Value Award: All Stakeholders Are Critical in the Education Process

1. Beth Gourlis

Core Value-All Stakeholders-Beth Gourlis

“The best career advice I received was ‘to love what you do’ – because if you don’t – your negative attitude will drain your energy and that of the people around you.  You should be excited to learn, live and experience the world around  you, and that starts with doing a job you love.  If you need to change that job—then change that job.”




Core Value Award: Passion for Excellence

2. Mashidu Ndoley

Core Value-Passion for Excellence

“I have been inspired by advice from my mother, which I carry like a torch: strive to be good at what you do, one step at a time, while seeing each instant of success as a challenge to be even better.”





Core Value Award: Personal Responsibility AND Teacher of the Year

3. Erika Antonsen

Core Value-Personal Responsibility & Teacher of the Year-Erika Antonsen

“Whenever I felt overwhelmed, wanted to give up, or just quit during my first couple years of teaching, Beth Gourlis, my mentor and fellow Golden Dot Award winner, would always remind me that being a teacher wasn’t about me. It was about the kids. She taught me to let go of my pride, learn from my mistakes, and to always do right by the students.”





Core Value Award: Respect for Others & Community

4. Kate Hicks

“My dad has always said, ‘Finish what you start.’ It has made a huge difference in my career and my life.”







Core Value Award: Unwavering Belief in All Students’ Potential

5. Lauren Morimoto

“The best career advice I received at Ánimo Watts was not advice in the traditional sense.  From my very first day, I was surrounded by individuals who modeled ALL of the Green Dot Core Values on a daily basis.  I have humbly followed in their footsteps.”





Rising Star Teacher of the Year

6. Melody Sawasaki

“Taiala Carvalho has helped me become the educator I am today. She believed in me from day one and continues to push and challenge me to become a better teacher, all for the sake of the students. I don’t think I would be where I am today without her.”








Rookie Teacher of the Year

7. Devon Bixler

“My father told me, ‘Happiness is a choice.’ I got my first job mowing lawns and realized that hard work and success are choices, too.”







Counselor of the Year

8. Gloria Guevara

“My husband gave me a beautiful frame as a gift that contains a quote I see every morning as I get ready for work.  This quote helps me to get through tough times: Never stop dreaming, for out of such fragile things come miracles.”






Classified Employee of the Year

9. Juanita Garcia

“My supervisor and dear friend, Helene Atkinson, gave me this great piece of advice: A job is not a job if you love what you do, and whom you do it with.”







Home Office Employee of the Year

10. Cynthia Leonard

“One piece of advice I received from a good friend is, ‘Be the absolute best you can be in your job.  Then, help make everyone else’s job easier.'”







Assistant Principal of the Year

11. Brian Thomas-Reed

“Don’t spin your wheels. Stay focused on the aspects of your practice that most directly lead to student learning.”







Principal of the Year

12. Peggy Gutierrez

“After being at Long Beach Unified for 17 years, a former colleague of mine, Kelly Hurley [Chief Talent Officer at Green Dot Public Schools], asked me if I would like to open my own school [as a founding principal of the Alain Leroy Locke College Preparatory Academy]. I was exhilarated that he had faith in my ability to change lives through my passion for education. Since that conversation I have never looked back. I am grateful he believed in me and what I was capable of achieving.”




Share your inspirational quotes in the comments below!



  1. Chad on March 20, 2015 at 1:49 am

    You’re an inspiration! Thank you all for your commitment to our students and their families!

  2. Brittney on March 20, 2015 at 3:45 pm

    Reading these quotes is a wonderful reminder that we work for the best organization, with the greatest, most dedicated, and most inspirational staff! Congrats winners!