VACAVILLE — Mention the San Francisco Giants and Tracy Ruiz becomes pretty animated.
Her household is a Giants home, no doubt about it. That makes Ruiz’s journey all the sweeter.
She is one of three finalists in the Target Presents People All-Star Teacher contest who could wind up representing the San Francisco Giants at the All-Star game hosted by the Minnesota Twins in July. The contest, launched by Target, Major League Baseball and People magazine, chooses one representative of the teaching profession for each Major League Baseball team.
“I am very much a Giants fan,” she said.
But the selection is much more than being a Giants fan – although that’s icing on the cake for Ruiz.
According to a Major League Baseball press release, the representing teachers are those who “make an impact on the lives of their students and communities.”
Ruiz said that she was told her application beat out “hundreds of applications” to get into the top three.
The English teacher’s information was submitted by two of her fellow teachers at Will C. Wood High School – Lili Fisher and Brenda Hensley.
In part, the statement they submitted reads: “As an educator for 17 years, one thing is perfectly clear, Tracy Ruiz loves kids. She is the first teacher to arrive in the morning and the last to leave. But to truly understand Tracy is to witness what she does for others . . . One Christmas, Tracy chose three students with challenging home lives and gave them a Christmas they would not have had otherwise. For 12 days, she secretly gave each student a small gift – purchased with her own money – wrapped and delivered anonymously. It was unimportant to her that the students knew who gave the gifts, only that they knew that someone cared about them.”
Ruiz also started the Winter Wishes program at Wood, a coordinated effort between students and staff that granted hundreds of wishes to deserving students – from fanny packs to prom tickets – on Valentine’s Day.
“You put a lot into (teaching) but you get even more back,” she said. “All of this has just been another way to appreciate all the great teachers I’ve worked with and all the great students I’ve worked with.”
Ruiz said she was “pretty excited” about the prospect of being the Giants’ representative and was “definitely overwhelmed by all the support.”
“I totally never expected it,” she said. “All the social media support, the kids promoting it. It has been just incredible.”
The three Giants’ finalists will be honored June 26 during a home game at AT&T Park.
“I get to go on the field, oh my gosh,” she said. “I rearranged some flight plans to make that happen.”
The final phase, to narrow the three finalists to one, is by voting, which is through June 29. To vote, go to http://mlb.mlb.com/allstar-teachers/vote.jsp?team=sf. Winners will be announced in early July.
Winners will be recognized in a pre-game ceremony at the All-Star game and one of the winners will be featured in a People magazine article the week of the All-Star game.
Reach Susan Winlow at 427-6955 or [email protected] Follow her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/swinlowdr.