Dr. Rafaela M. Santa Cruz, Ph.D., attended C.E. Rose Elementary, Wakefield Junior High and graduated from Pueblo High School in 1966. She earned a Bachelor of Science in Mathematics in 1970 and in 1979, her Ph.D. in Educational Administration, both from the University of Arizona. She received her Master of Science degree in Special Education from the University of Southern California in 1971. Dr. Santa Cruz taught and was the Chair of the Adaptive Education Department at Tucson High School from 1971 to 1977.
Thereafter she served as a Professor of Mathematics at San Diego State University for 35 years. She was appointed as Director of the Master’s Program sponsored by SDSU for Mexican Educators in Tijuana, Mexico. In 1990 to 2015 she became Director of the San Diego Mathematics Project and Director of the Mathematics/Science Teacher Initiative at San Diego State University. She is also, the Director of the SDSU/Claremont Graduate University PH.D Joint Program in Education. As director, she chaired Ph.D. dissertation committees of at least 50 doctoral scholars.
Dr. Santa Cruz also has twice served as Interim Director at the School of Teacher Education at San Diego State University. While at San Diego State she collaborated on or directed more than $10 million of grants to improve the academic outcome of students. She is recognized and admired for being a great educator and has been selected for numerous awards: Teacher of the Year by the San Diego Union-Tribune: twice recognized at SDSU as Most Influential Faculty and Distinguished Faculty Award.
Nationally, Dr. Santa Cruz is respected for the elementary mathematics textbooks she has authored. The legacy of her commitment to education extends into elementary classrooms across the United States that benefit from her books.