San Francisco State University, Established 1899, 1600 Holloway Ave. SF, CA 94132

SFSU Public Affairs Press Release

Published by the Public Affairs Office at San Francisco State University, Diag Center.

#081; Media Advisory
Contact: Ted DeAdwyler (415) 338-1665


Taini to receive special recognition at SFSU’s commencement on Saturday, May 29

SAN FRANCISCO, CA, May 24, 1999 -- San Francisco State University has named Reno Taini, creator of the innovative Wilderness School for at-risk teenagers in the Jefferson Union High School District in Daly City, as the university’s representative to the California State University system for its year-long "Celebrating Teachers" program. Taini, who lives in Woodside, will be recognized at SFSU’s commencement on Saturday, May 29 at 1 p.m. at Cox Stadium on the campus.

"Reno Taini's passion for teaching, like his 'wilderness education' approach, knows no boundaries," said SFSU President Robert A. Corrigan.

"He has transformed the lives of young people in the Bay Area and adults in Cambodia, Kenya, and elsewhere. We honor his pioneering spirit and his inspiring teaching. He exemplifies the profession at its very best."

During the next school year, the CSU will recognize CSU alumni who have chosen the important work of educating children as a profession. The CSU produces nearly 60% of all California’s teachers.

Taini, 58, earned his bachelor’s degree in biology in 1964 and a master’s degree in education in 1978, both from S.F. State. He also earned a doctorate in experiential education from Columbia Pacific University in 1983.

Taini’s accomplishments range from working with refugees in southeast Asia to creating the innovative Wilderness School in Daly City for at-risk teenagers to increase their confidence and help them stay in school. The Wilderness School is a semester-long program with an emphasis on environmental awareness and community outreach for 10th and 12th graders in the Jefferson Union School District who have lost interest in school.

The program features activities such taking the teens on a 10-day survival quest in the wilderness, picking up litter along Mission Street and teaching elementary school students to plant and to maintain an organic garden for local organic grocery stores.

"I am trying to teach that responsibility is the key to success. I want my kids to do something with their ability. Seize an opportunity. Roll up your sleeves make things happen. Take responsibility for yourself," said Taini, who grew up in the Excelsior District and graduated from Riordan High School.

Taini’s students this semester have just completed a video titled "Kids & Guns" for use as a tool for class discussion on guns and gun violence. Ironically, the idea for the video came out of a classroom forum weeks before the Colorado tragedy, Taini said.

A documentary about his work-"Reno’s Kids"-was produced for public television in 1988. Taini was part of NASA’s Teacher in Space program in 1985-86. He received the SFSU College of Education’s Golden Torch award as an outstanding alum in 1998; he was named Practitioner of the Year in 1990 by the American Association of Experiential Educators; and earned California State Teacher of the Year honors in 1982.

Taini also has distinguished himself by working with relief agencies around the world, including the United Nations Border Relief Organization in Cambodia, Laos, Thailand and the Philippines. He plans to go to Albania later this summer to help young refugees. Each year he spends several weeks as a safari tour guide in Kenya while working with the people of the Maasai tribe there. And he also serves as a member of the Colma Volunteer Fire Department. SFSU’s commencement speaker will be alum Yvonne Darlene Cagle, a NASA astronaut and medical doctor at the Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center in Houston, who has been selected as the 1999 Alumna of the Year by San Francisco State University’s Alumni Association. She will speak before an expected audience of approximately 22,000 in Cox Stadium on the university campus as the ceremonies recognize the 6,646 graduates of the Class of 1999, the largest class ever in the University’s 100-year history.


Note to editors--- Reno Taini can be reached at (650) 997-4506. For additional assistance, call Ted DeAdwyler of the S.F. State Public Affairs Office at (415) 338-7110.

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Last modified Dec. 8, 1998, by Webmaster & Co.