Starr Sanders

Areas of Achievement: 

Honored By

Honored by: Dave, Rose & Art Memorial Fund
Date submitted: October 24, 2006
Gift: Engraved Paver, Small

Starr Sanders was born in 1946 in Joliet, Illinois, the youngest of two children of Grace and Harry Sanders. Her parents created a very nurturing and loving environment in which to grow and to succeed. As a child, Starr aspired to do what the boys did; only she wanted to do it better. She did not think she should be precluded from any activity just because she was a female. Starr started to read at the early age of two after observing her five-year-old-brother. Through this informal and driven method of learning, she excelled in school. She also engaged in athletic activities as well, opening up even more opportunities to further challenge herself.

At the age of twelve, Starr, her parents, and her brother moved to Phoenix, Arizona, where she was enrolled at West High School. She vividly recalls her first day of high school. A few of her classmates invited her to watch some boys play basketball. When asked by her friends which boy she thought was cute, she pointed to one particular boy and said, 'That one, I like him.' Her friends explained that he was Andy Silverman and that he was mostly interested in groups and causes, not girls at that point. Starr countered by saying, 'That is who I will marry someday'. Throughout high school, Andy and Starr were high school sweethearts and would eventually marry years later.

After graduating high school at the age of 16, Starr attended the University of Arizona, where she majored in Finance and Economics. During this time, the numbers of women in this field were few. She found that she was the only female in many of her classes. She graduated after only three years and received job offers in Phoenix and Los Angeles due to her academic performance and perseverance. Unfortunately, upon moving to Tucson after working as an accountant in Phoenix, she was told by employers that there were jobs for her but she would be paid less than her male counterparts. Starr had received better grades and graduated higher in the class than those being offered more money. She therefore declined the positions. She obtained a job thereafter in the College of Education at the University of Arizona, far adrift from the path she had been following. While working, she obtained a teaching certificate and her long career in the field of education began.

Starr began teaching at Tucson High Magnet School after spending two years at Pueblo High School in Tucson and one year at Central High School in Phoenix. She initially approached the job as temporary work, but discovered that teaching was the perfect career and fit for her. She realized what she truly wanted to do was to make a difference with people in the community and to reach out, especially to students who did not have the same abilities or chances as other students both economically and intellectually. She taught seventeen different subjects during her 30 years of teaching. Some of these subjects were economics, accounting, and English. In the 1980s, she became one the first teachers to teach a computer class in the area. Starr took great pride in this accomplishment. These computer classes opened up many job opportunities for her students, thereby enabling many of them to graduate and secure good jobs and employment. Starr Sanders inspired endless students during her years as a teacher and always paid close attention to making every student feel special. Wherever she goes in Tucson, she continually encounters students who thank her for believing in them and giving them a chance.

Starr retired after 30 years of teaching. She made a long list of things to do before she retired that would feed her adventurous, political and compassionate spirit. She has marked many items off of the list and added even more. Today she continues her love of traveling, gourmet cooking, exercising, playing the banjo, reading, politics, volunteering, and helping people whenever and wherever the need arises. She is a constant advocate for those economically or politically marginalized people in the community. She has worked and served on many boards and for countless organizations. She has many friends and cares deeply about all of them.

Starr Sanders and Andy Silverman, her best friend, are still happily married after 43 years. Andy currently is a Professor of Law at the University of Arizona. Together they have a daughter Brooke, 32, and a son, Adam, 35. Her passion, pride and love for all of them is apparent when you talk with her. Starr stresses that life has been good to her. She hopes to continue to give back to society as she has been extremely fortunate to have received so much throughout her life.