After 40 years in the teaching profession including 18 years at Campion Academy, Cindy Santana, along with her husband Zeca Santana, is stepping into the new world of retirement.
Cindy grew up in Loma Linda, California and graduated with her Bachelor’s degree in Home Economics Education from La Sierra University in 1979. She began her teaching career in the nutrition department of Loma Linda University, and later taught at La Sierra Academy and Redlands Junior Academy. After moving to Colorado with Zeca and their three children, she taught at Fort Collins Adventist School and then served as the Principal at Vista Ridge Academy.
In 2005, Cindy took on the position of Academic Vice-Principal and test-coordinator at Campion Academy and because a history teacher was needed, she went back to school to complete her teaching endorsement in history. Truly a renaissance teacher, she also went on to complete endorsements in science and math. Cindy explained, “Every time Campion needed a different class taught, I just went back to school to complete another endorsement to fill the need.”
“What I have loved about my work at Campion has simply been the joy of teaching and the joy of helping kids,” Cindy reflected; “Beyond just the subject material in the classroom, I have cherished the opportunity to help kids figure out how to navigate life, how to follow through, and show initiative and responsibility. I enjoy the kids, and I enjoy teaching, so it all works well together.”
In her most recent years at Campion, Cindy taught Earth Science, Biology, and World History and continued as test-coordinator. Every year, Cindy planned Biology trips, typically to Moab that are frequently mentioned as students’ favorite memories.
When asked what kept her from burning out after years of teaching at boarding school, Cindy’s answer was simple: “Zeca. He supported me and was as involved in the ministry of Campion Academy as I was through the years. It was a family life-style.” All three of their children graduated from Campion Academy.
A native of Angola, Jose “Zeca” Santana graduated from Pacific Union College with a degree in Business Administration and has spent most of his career managing his own business, Blue Diamond Mortgage.
Despite his day job, Zeca has been involved with Campion Academy since 1994 when he was instrumental in starting and coaching Campion’s first soccer team when his son was a freshman. He continued to coach both the boys and girls soccer teams for many years. In addition, he taught a Personal Finance class, has been a long-term member of the Campion Academy School Board and served on the Property and Trust Committee.
“My kids had great experiences here at Campion, and that’s where it all started,” commented Zeca. “I started to get to know the other kids on the soccer field, and they would talk about how their teachers impacted them. I realized many of them came from difficult backgrounds, and I felt I could also be involved as a mentor to help guide them. I love this school, and if I had the money to write a million dollar check to support kids at Campion, I would do it, but since I don’t I give of myself: my time and my skills, wherever I can.”
Another legacy Zeca leaves at Campion is the role he has taken in recruiting and supporting international students from Brazil. He has been directly responsible for bringing at least 20 different Brazilian students to Campion over the last five years and voluntarily served as the legal guardian for each of them. Before officially retiring, Zeca will travel to Brazil again in June on another recruiting trip.
Finally, Zeca and Cindy Santana will be remembered as highly dedicated class sponsors who took the time and effort to get to know and advise each of the students in their classes.
In their retirement, they plan to spend time traveling, gardening, and as Cindy put it, “not living by a bell.”
Tributes to the Santanas
“Campion has been blessed to have Cindy Santana on staff for 18 years. Cindy is known to be a Master Teacher. The rigor of her classes served to prepare students for the next step in their education. She expected students to perform at a high level of proficiency and she expected the same proficiency and professionalism from herself. She spent hours preparing her lessons and programs. She spent countless more hours in making sure each student that wanted help, would receive her undivided attention and assistance. She would give of her time to ensure each student's success.
“Campion has been fortunate to have Zeca Santana serve on the Campion Academy School Board for 29 years. His skills and knowledge in finance has served to help Campion grow. He was a master mind of the CA Warrior program that enlisted financial help from Alumni to assist Campion during a very tough time. He is intricately involved in growing the Legacy Endowment plan to help Campion reach it's goal of $10 million. With Zeca's help, Campion is over half way to reaching that goal. His services to CA and it's students include coaching soccer, planning trips and teaching finance classes. Zeca is a master at holding students to a high standard while being by each student to ensure their success.
“We will miss Cindy and Zeca, but we will retain fond memories and we will be inspired by their tireless ministry to CA students. Campion Administration will be ever grateful for their love for our students and school and their generosity of time and finances to both.” - Don Reeder
“I attended Campion from 2009 to 2013, and worked as a grader for Mrs. Santana my junior and senior year. Science and History were two of my favorite subjects and Mrs. Santana was my favorite teacher. She made learning so much fun! Memorable projects include the Earth Science road trip, the California Marine Biology spring break trip in 2011, the Versailles Treaty role play, and the space shuttle simulation, which will probably be the closest I will ever get to realizing my dream of being an Astronaut. But even more than the projects and the classes, the most important thing Mrs. Santana taught me was that it’s ok to be the weird nerd girl with all the special interests and collections, and that there will always be a place in the world for people like us. Campion is 13 hour road trip from my home in Texas, and the Santanas were my parents away from home. I’m so thankful I got to know them, work with them and learn from them. I can’t imagine Campion without the Santanas. Knowing them, I’m sure they’re just starting another grand adventure, and I wish them well!” - Aerlice LeBlanc
“It would be hard to find anyone who is more dedicated to teaching in general and Campion specifically than Cindy and Zeca. The hours and efforts put in by Cindy to prepare her classes is an inspiration. The Moab trips will always be an inspiration. Every detail was planned out, even to knowing which plants to look for in the field. Every meal was planned out with lists for the students to follow (when they chose to take the time to read them!). No one was left in the dark with syllabi painstakingly crafted for the entire year (please don’t change the calendar after you give it to Cindy!). How many times did I hear, “It’s in your syllabus.”
Thank you Cindy for your stellar example and endless energy. Only after some injuries in the last few years did I ever see you struggle to keep up with the students. Moab will never be the same without you! And that can be extended to include all the classes you taught and all the class sponsorships you led.
There were always two teams to beat at class scramble: the seniors and the Santanas. I can imagine that the class trips were just as well planned as the Moab trips and class scramble games. You are leaving behind some very big shoes to fill.
The oft repeated saying goes “behind every great leader there is a great wife.” Well that can go two ways. Zeca was always the one behind the scenes doing whatever Cindy needed done. Zeca set up the space shuttle and took it down. Zeca helped tremendously with the Moab trip. He was truly the support Cindy needed.
Besides being support Zeca led out as a great soccer coach to which his players can testify.
There are not too many people as passionate about soccer as Zeca. At least not the people I know. He has led many teams to do very well and has encouraged young people to love the sport as he does. Zeca’s support is not limited to sports. I am thankful for his long tenure on the school board. He has knowledge of actions and events that have helped Campion to be what it is today. Not only does he remember details but he also helps make good things happen for the school. I know his tireless work recruiting students from Brazil paid off with many fine students joining the Campion family. For not being a teacher, Zeca did a fine job teaching finance. I wish I had had the time to sit in on a year’s worth of his classes. Maybe I would be making smarter financial decisions. Zeca, thank you for your boundless energy and depth of knowledge. I am sure there are still not many “kids” who can keep up with you in soccer.
God’s blessing on your retirement. Now go enjoy your grandkids.” - Kent Kast
“Cindy and Zeca have truly been a treasure to our campus. Their dedication to our students is unmeasurable. Their kindness goes above and beyond for our students. Although I have only been here on campus for three years Cindy and Zeca's reputation has preceded them. From Taco night to their genuine care for our kids have truly been a light for our kids. I really got to see their firm and beautiful character on display at senior survival. I was so proud to see a couple in Christ be such a blessing and wonderful example for our kids. Thank you for your years of loving service!” - Carlos Santana
“To Zeca and Cindy: What wonderful friends and co-workers you have been over the past 30 years. I appreciate all that you have done for our children and what you have done for the young people at Campion Academy. You have always been kind and gracious. Your zeal for life and your passion for Campion is extraordinary. I know there have been tough times, but your faith has never waivered and I so appreciate that about you both. As you move into this next phase of your life I will miss you both, but know that you hold a very special place in my heart. With many blessings and much love.” - Sue Helm
“When I arrived at Campion I quickly realized that I had fallen on my feet when I was informed that I had been partnered with Cindy and Zeca. From the beginning, Cindy's organization, clear communication, and willingness to listen to all of my questions brought me peace of soul. With Zeca, I knew I always had someone backing me up. When Zeca was informed of a problem or issue, I knew he would dive in and help me resolve the situation without delay. With both Cindy and Zeca I knew that I was never alone and will continue to value the advice they have given me. I have been greatly privileged to work with Cindy and Zeca during the past two years.” - Shannon Brown
“Dear Zeca and Mrs. Santana, Over the past four years that I have been here, you guys were my support. I faced many challenges at Campion but I knew that I had you guys to help me. You’ve made my experience here memorable and I loved the times we would just joke around and laugh. Thanks for everything and I hope to be your friend for a long time. I wish you guys the best on this next step of your life!” - Daniel Moraes
“Zeca- Where do i even start with you? Whenever I know that Zeca will be at an event I know it will be fun. You always make me laugh with your jokes and wittiness, and I will miss teasing you. Thank you for being a light for me at Campion and making me see the fun side of life. You’re my favorite Zeca; thank you for everything.
Mrs Santana- I guess I can say it now that I’ve graduated; you scare me! haha! I respect you very much and I like how you get things done quickly and efficiently. I have always looked up to you and admired your character. I will miss you very much and I hope retired life treats you well.” - Audra Bennett
“Thank you so much for everything from hosting taco nights, to just giving me advice. I will forever remember Zeca yelling at me from the side lines of my soccer games. I will also remember struggling in Mrs. Santana’s classes but her always being willing to help me. I will forever treasure both of them. They both mean so much to me and I don’t know where I would be without their guidance these last 4 years.” - Nicole Dominguez
“The Santanas have been among the most dedicated and caring staff members during my time at Campion. High expectations met with their helpful nature gave me the best opportunities to succeed in whatever I’m doing whether it’s in the classroom or out on the field. I hope they enjoy their years in retirement to the fullest.” - Colton Herber
“The Santana’s have impacted me in more ways than one. They’ve encouraged me to go beyond my comfort zone and have taught me to remain calm when I'm in trouble. They’re great storytellers and have always been detail oriented. I thank God that they were our class sponsors for all these years because they’ve been the best people to get to know. Shoutout to Mrs. Santana especially cause I’ll always be her navigator.” - Melody Mambo
“Dear Mr. and Mrs. Santana, I’d like to appreciate all that you have done for me these past four years. I still remember when I was a little freshman during class scramble I couldn’t pronounce your last name so instead I called you Mr. and Mrs. Santa. It’s been a pleasure to have nice long talks with you Mrs. Santana about anything and everything. It was fun challenging you to a hand strength contest with you Zeca. I really wish you guys the best and hope we can see each other in the future. I want to thank the both of you for raising the little old me into the person I am today. Thank you for all you guys have done and I’ll really miss the both of you guys. Blessings.” - Jarrod Lang
“The Santanas are special to the class of 2023. We’ve endured so much together that we not only consider them as sponsors, we consider them as family. They have always included everyone in our class and made sure we were okay. Their compassion and dedication to each student will surely be missed, and I am so grateful for their presence at Campion. I will miss them as they move onto a new chapter in their lives, and I wish only blessings to come!” - Matthew Winokan
“I remember having classes with Mrs. Santana and how every worship was tied into the subject we would talk about somehow and sophomore year during the last class I thought I probably wouldn’t hear another worship from her, then she asked me to work for her junior year. I said yes and I’ve really enjoyed working for Mrs. Santana the last two years. She’s been an amazing boss and I will miss all the conversations we had.
“Zeca has always been a character. I remember going to soccer games freshman year and hearing him shouting out instructions for the players, and class scramble freshman year was no different except we were the player being yelled at. Over the last two years Zeca has come into the office many times while I was working and just gave me a hard time about various things or just completely distracted me while I was working.
“I will miss the Santanas dearly and I’m so thankful that they stayed with them our class until we graduated.” - Haley Beckermeyer, ‘23
“From Freshman to Senior year the Santanas have supported my class and I. My favorite memories with them is going over to their house for taco nights. Eating good food and hanging out, gave us the chance to laugh and bond outside the classroom and it's something I'll always appreciate.” - Lindsey Smith
“The Santanas were literally the best sponsors I have ever had. Not only because they were always fun to be around but because they never gave up on us. Even though there were times that they probably wanted to. They were always willing to listen to us when we needed help and they taught us that we can’t get anything unless we worked for it. They showed us that we have responsibilities and I will always be grateful to them. Thank you (real) Santanas for everything you have done for us.” - Carlos Lopez
“I’ve known the Santanas my entire life, Zecca was actually my moms soccer coach in ‘96. I’ve gotten to see them tackle many things and be an absolute asset to this campus over the years. They have been involved in so many things that I am grateful for. From a few tough classes with them, to senior survival, Taco nights, and incredible class trips, I know I can always look up to them. And they have always been there to listen and give great advice. And also be real with us as well as laugh with us. They were also my faculty family where I got to know them as both leaders as well as friends. Campion and myself had been truly blessed by their support and leadership ! We’re gonna miss y’all!” - Kaileigh Cate
“Mrs. Santana would help me when I was struggling with the classes that she teaches. Zeca taught me these past two years on how to be a goalie. I always liked their taco nights and how they were so involved with the students.” -Damaris Lopez-Morquecho
“I love science much more than history, yet during both Biology and World History, I was intrigued. Along with classes, the trip to Moab was and will be one of my best experiences at Campion, Thank you Santanas!” -Dominic White
“I’m scared of Mrs. Santana’s presence in class but outside of class, she’s the best! She’s really sweet and wise. I’m scared of Zecca regardless but he’s the person who gets my head straight. Both of these people represent God in unique ways and I will miss them.” -EJ Woy
“I love Mrs. Santana, she’s a really funny teacher. Most people think that she is super strict and serious but she, in reality, isn’t. If you take the time to actually listen to her stories and worship thoughts, you might actually see how funny and thoughtful she is. I’m sad to say goodbye to her but I’m extremely happy that I was one of her last. Goodbye Mrs. Santana! I hope you finally show the cashier how to do their job right and fast!” -Noeli Hernandez
“Dear Mr. and Mrs. Santana I really appreciate everything both of you have done for us. For all the planning of the field trips and for all that hard work it took to help all your students as much as possible. Have an amazing summer! God bless! And we WILL all miss you too!” -Camila Martinez Sainz
"Ms Santana, even though she seems scary, is really nice and a great teacher and she has the most interesting stories and Zecca is just a funny guy and it's always interesting when he's around" -Izuchi Nwankwo
"You guys have given me memories that I will never forget. Thank you for everything you have done for this school. I will miss you!" -Sarah Rushold
"The Santanas are amazing people. Mrs. Santana is a great teacher who is very helpful, and Zeca is funny and generous. It was great to be able to meet them this year, and I hope they enjoy their retirement." -Keaton Drake
"I have known them since they were my sister's sponsors and honestly I couldn't be more grateful for them. They have truly shown God's character to me and I will truly miss them on this campus." -Janey Padilla-Reyes
"When I came to Campion I was with my sister when I met Zeca. If you know me you know I get scared talking to new people but Zecca just started making conversation with me and made me feel included. I also enjoyed having Mrs.Santana as a teacher because I learned a lot and I enjoy her teaching." -Sherlin Vasquez
“I'm really going to miss the Santanas being around. I love Mrs Santana, she has been one of my favorite teachers this year, and even though her classes were hard, I value the things she taught us and feel like I actually learned things. I will miss her humor, worship, and life stories. Zecca was always joking around and poking fun at everyone. It was always a good time when he was around, even when most of the time he was trying to make me practice my broken portuguese. I'll miss them both." -Claire Jorgensen
"They've always stood out as fun, understanding, kind, and understanding. They've impacted my experience for the better, and I know their ministry will continue beyond Campion." -Seth Coe
"They truly represented Campion Spirit in everything they did. I loved how they invited us over for taco night every once in a while. Their impact on this campus will never fade." -Ekenna Nwankwo
"I love Mrs Santana, and Zeca so much. I felt like them being a class sponsor was a blessing, because not only did they support us and encouraged us to do better in school, they took care of us. They always had fun things for us, like taco night or just hanging at their house. I loved seeing them be as excited as our class when it came to events. I'm going to miss them very dearly." - Blet Htoo
"They were a very kind couple and they helped out the students whenever they could. You could always tell that they cared and were sincere when they asked if you were OK. They loved working here and helping the students and I will never forget the lessons that I learned with Cindy Santana. She has taught me how to persevere and how to apply myself through her classes." -Quiana Davis
"Thank you so much for all that you do for this school and us. You guys have contributed so much to this school. from teaching to watching over us. This school wouldn't be here if it wasn't for you guys. this school will not be the same while y'all are gone. thank you so much from the bottom of my heart." -Yngrid Silva
"Mrs. Santana, thank you for everything you did and taught us. I can't wait to see you again, and remember we will meet each other at the tree of life." - Marcela Zuniga
"I love Mrs. Santana's seriousness and her silliness when it comes to capturing our attention to pay attention to the lessons. Zecca is the best muffin man I have ever seen." - Anya Francis
"Mr and Mrs Santana, Your hard work has paid dividends in people's lives that you can't even imagine! Your jokes have never failed to force everyone present to laugh. Thank you for caring for every one of your students including me!" -Jack Jordan