Student, Hannah nominated Mrs. Kylie Ko of Mark Keppel School in Glendale

My teacher, Mrs. Kylie Ko is my favorite teacher. This is because she makes our learning fun, and she goes beyond her duty to explain everything to us. She makes our learning fun by making musical and music videos about what we learn. Also, if we need help she will explain it to us.

I am in the dual language program and Mrs. Ko is my korean teacher.
We have made musicals about ecosystems and the pioneers and the Gold Rush. We all get our own part in a group. We have also made music video’s about California’s geography and are making one about earth’s formations. First, My class help make the musical and when we finish with writing it we film our different parts. After we are done with the filming, she edits and makes it look really interesting and realistic. Then, she posts the trailer on our homework website so we can look at it. Then at something special like a party or event she will show us the whole thing and how it came out. We have to make our own costumes that she checks and says if we can use it or not.

She will also make stuff we learn into songs. Every week we learn a new song that she teaches us. Mrs. Ko has taught us many things, most of them fun activities. We learn about wise sayings from Korea and familiar idioms. We also do regular everyday stuff like math, science, and social studies. I look forward to starting a new day everyday in her classroom.

Mrs. Ko is also a good teacher because she helps us with our work and does not make us do everything ourselves. She has us take notes so we can study at the end of the week for a test unlike some teachers that make you just stick it in your brain and try to remember it. We use the definitions and make them into like a chant when we are speaking. She also makes movements to go with the definition. Like, if we are learning perimeter she will make a movement like going around a square because a perimeter is the outside measurements of shapes.

Mrs. Ko is leaving this Thursday Mar. 10 because she is having a baby and won’t be back till May. My class will miss her very much. She was a great teacher and will remain with us in our hearts and minds.

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Tina Renzullo nominated Regina Major of Altadena Elementary school. 

Regina Major has been working at Altadena Elementary as a Kindergarten teacher for nine years and has been with Pasadena Unified School District for 18 years. She began at Cleveland Elementary as a Pre-K teacher and moved up to a Kindergarten teacher in the fall of 2000. Her background is in Child Development and she has been working with young children for 34 years; her previous experience was with Pre-Schools.

Regina works with a population of students who have economic realities which put them at risk for low school achievement. The reason I am nominating Regina for your award is that she refuses to allow children’s challenges to determine their futures. She differentiates lessons to give all students access to the curriculum and scaffolds their growth with specific skills development. Regina does this through engaging themes and enriching experiences but the key is her expert knowledge of how her students learn best. Families rely on her to provide a strong start for their children and, together with families, Regina does exactly that. Year after year, child by child. Her students leave their year with her seeing themselves as scientists, mathematicians, inventors, artists, writers, explorers… contributing members of our community. Ask anyone in the Altadena School community about Regina and they’ll share with you multiple anecdotes about how she has positively affected their lives.

Regina has been a member of the Altadena/Pasadena community all of her life;
She received her education at Edison-Kindergarten and 1st grade, Pasadena Christian-2nd grade to 8th grade, Marshall Fundamental-High School, (Her first teaching experience was through the PUSD ROP Program at All Saints Children’s Center.) PCC-AA in General Studies, Cal State Northridge-BA in Child Development, Point Loma University-Teaching Credential/MA in Teaching Learning and Technology, and UCLA Extension-technology course in 2005. She was a part of TAH (Teach American History-Cohort 3). She was one of the teachers from Altadena Elementary involved in CRW (Curriculum Revision Workshop). Currently she serves on the Altadena Inclusion planning team.
Outside of her professional obligations, she is involved with enhancing our community. Regina is a 7 year member of the Tournament of Roses, a youth community tutor with various organizations, and an active member of her church, where she works with the youth choir and Lead Young Adults.
Regina exemplifies what strong commitment to community looks like and we all benefit from her dedication. It would be really lovely to honor her with your award.

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Student/Friend, Lisa Jonsson nominated Rosalyn M. Wortham
of Los Angeles Adventist Academy

Teachers have the opportunity to make such an impact on a student’s life. How many people can say that they have a friendship with their high school literature teacher?  Even more surprising; how many people can say they have this friendship over 30 years later?   It is my honor and privilege to nominate

Mrs. Rosalyn M. Wortham, whom over 30 years ago, was my high school literature teacher and continues her 40 year teaching span. As a student in high school, I had to work hard to obtain good grades.  Mrs. Wortham (or Roslie as I now lovingly refer to her), never stopped believing in me or my abilities.  She often recounted the story of the  “Tortoise and the Hair”.  Roslie always said it wasn’t about who finished first more than it was about who finished the race. Her assignments were rigorous yet inspiring: a treasure hunt at the library, an indentured servant journal replete with daily entries and an antiquated look, interpreting Shakespeare, writing poetry, and reading my all time favorite, Agatha Christie. After high school, I went on to complete my graduate degree and mentioned Roslie in the dedication of my published thesis.  Roslie’s support played a large part in my achievements.  As a Marriage and Family Therapist today, I have a good understanding about what helps people to thrive in this world – a mentor and a cheerleader. Roslie definitely was that for me. Roslie has always availed herself to her students and continues teaching at LA Adventist Academy where she works with many underprivileged children.  There, she continues to provide assignments that remain interesting, precipitate creativity, and continue a quest for the love of learning.  Some of her students see her as a “tough, no-nonsense” teacher to be highly revered.  While she is all of those things, she is also an incredibly caring, dedicated, cheerleader for all of her students. Today, after over 40 years of teaching, she continues to make an impact on her student’s lives.

I continue my friendship with a woman who never gave up on her students and pushed the limits to make them better people. Together, we attend concerts, memorable celebrations, literary events, and even have time for a cup of tea to discuss “who did it” before the end of our mystery novels. I can’t think of anyone more deserving and appropriate than my high school literature teacher Rosalyn M. Wortham for Vroman’s Teacher of the Year. Nothing would give me greater pleasure than seeing her honored for all of the selfless work that she does.

I sign off with a poem, which I believe describes it perfectly:

From women’s eyes this doctrine I derive:

They sparkle still the right Promethean fire;

They are the books, the arts, the academes,

That show, contain, and nourish all the world.

William Shakespeare

 

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Parent, Lydia Spurgeon nominated Ms. Banuelos of
Jackson Magnet STEM Dual Language Academy in Altadena. 

My Family and I enthusiastically, wholeheartedly, and respectfully nominate our daughter’s teacher, Mrs. Sandra Bañuelos, as the Vroman’s Bookstore 2015-2016 Teacher of the Year.

Ms. Bañuelos is a First Grade, Dual Spanish Language Immersion Program teacher at Jackson Magnet STEM Dual Language Academy in Altadena, part of the Pasadena Unified School District.

Although I read, write, and speak Spanish fluently, our daughter grew up speaking only English at home and at school. Once I learned about the dual language immersion programs that PUSD offers, I jumped immediately at the opportunity to apply for her to transfer to one of these schools. Fortunately, she was able to begin the summer before First grade. Unfortunately, that put her an academic year behind her peers in Spanish language skills.

Ms. Bañuelos has been her teacher since last Summer when she didn’t understand any Spanish at all, and from day one has balanced being kind, encouraging, and helpful to her with being structured, patient, and steadfast in her instructions and activities. She has been instrumental in our daughter’s level of success and growth at such a quick rate after starting with such a disadvantage. She told us about how she can identify with her on a personal level because she had the same experience growing up, not knowing any English when she began school. And she also understands the value of being bilingual and the opportunities that come with it.

One of our best and proudest memories of this school year was a quick video that she took of our daughter leading the class in their daily morning class opening – in Spanish! To see the teacher beaming and so happy that she was able to do it on her own was so heartwarming and rewarding.

Ms. Bañuelos has also inspired me again to pick up books in Spanish and to read them with, and have my daughter read them to me. In particular, just this week, we have enjoyed, “La oruga muy hambrienta” and “La mariquita malhumorada!”

Although I know our daughter will not have her as a teacher next year, we unequivocally understand that Ms. Bañuelos has made a grand difference in our lives and has been an excellent example of what persistence, perseverance, and diligence in learning language can do for a little one’s life – and for us as parents as well.

¡BRAVA para Maestra Bañuelos, y muchísimas gracias por todo!

 

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Colleague, Matthew Woodin nominated David Silah of Arcadia High School

I would like to nominate my Colleague, David Silah, Math teacher at Arcadia High School for Teacher of the Year consideration.

The teaching of mathematics to high school students in today’s Facebook, Youtube culture of me-first instant gratification is Herculean at best. However, David Silah has been making math meaningful to students for decades at Arcadia High School as well as his students in LAUSD prior. His Thoreau-like approach to learning enables him to share difficult formulas and broaden student understanding by demonstrating Math’s applications to logic, reason and, more importantly, life.

While many teachers have begun relying more on technology to “hold student attention” Dave has shunned it in favor of embracing his more than 40 feet of board space, which allows him to meticulously demonstrate work, answer student questions and reveal Math’s metaphors. From the beginning of each class period to the end, he is thoughtfully demonstrating not only his passion for math but ensuring students leave his room with a clear understanding of the material.

I have now been a colleague of David’s for 9 years and while he teaches Math and I English, we still have found time to collaborate and discuss our love of reading. David is a proponent of Dickinson’s poetry and a former John Muir Trail hiker who embodies an Abbey-like knowledge of our local mountains and beyond. Furthermore, he and I have shared many students and, without fail, they can not help but express their gratitude to “Mr Silah” for making Math a class a place of knowledge, discussion and passion.

 

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Parent, Catherine Caldwell-Harris, nominated Mrs. Strehl
of McKinley School in Pasadena. 

I first realized Mrs. Strehl was special because of the immediate strong response of my son.  I then paid attention to what she was doing in the classroom.

An example of Mrs. Strehl’s energy is  how she makes wonderful use of parent volunteers to reduce the time she spends as a single adult in front of 25 children. She took the time to create an email list, and recruited a parent volunteer to be the room parent (in charge of emails).

We all know that “centers” are terrific tools for learning, but you’d need teachers’ aids for these.  Mrs. Strehl uses one parent-volunteer per day  to create centers. She really implements “developmentally appropriate” practices.

Recently Mrs. Strehl arranged to incubate 14 chick eggs in class. When one was born, it became the class pet. Each weekend, parents sign up to take the chick home.  We got to have the chick at our home this last weekend — what a learning experience!

Here are some anecdotes about my son’s response.

The second day of school when picking up Elias from the after school program we saw Mrs. Strehl crossing the street to the parking lot. Elias saw her, and he insisted that I let him run over to her to give her a hug. Very cute.

In early September our family began discussing a weekend beach trip, which Elias dearly wanted.

Mommy:  “Let’s leave Friday morning to make the most of the weekend;
the children can miss one day of school.

Elias:  “No.  We can go Friday after school.
I don’t want to miss school. 
Mrs. Strehl said don’t miss school.

Wow.

Elias frequently says he wants to share this or that accomplishment or found object or drawing with Mrs. Strehl. I sometimes invoke Mrs. Strehl when I want Elias to inwardly channel the voice of a respected authority. An example of this is when Elias found a $20 bill in our house and began arguing about why he should be allowed to keep it even while his parents wanted the bill safely back in an adult wallet.

Elias:  “I want to take it to school for my sharing day.”

Mommy: “Why don’t we first ask Mrs. Strehl if that would be an acceptable sharing object.
[Elias quickly dropped that particular line of attack.]

Another example.

Elias riffed: “I wish I was Grand Dad!

Mommy [taking up the game]: “I wish I were Mrs. Strehl.

Elias: “Then you would have to work all day.
She even works in the 
afterschool program now.

[Makes me wonder – how does he know?  I infer he pays close attention to things she says.]

In sum:  I am so happy that Mrs. Strehl is Elias’ teacher.  She is helping to make a curious and intellectually-oriented  little boy a fan of school.

 

 

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Student Abigail nominated Ms. Julie Shapiro of Weizmann Day School

The Best Teacher in the Whole World!

My teacher this year in third grade is Ms. Shapiro. She is the most amazing teacher and I was
lucky enough to have her when I was in Kindergarten also. Ms. Shapiro is one of those special
teachers who really love to teach kids and makes learning exciting and fun for us!
Last year, I was struggling in school. It was hard and I didn’t think I could do the work – I
didn’t have confidence in myself. This year, Ms. Shapiro has worked so hard to make me believe
in myself and to feel comfortable asking for help when I need it. This has allowed me to learn
and catch up and feel great about myself. She really makes me love going to school and learning
every day. My mother always says that Ms. Shapiro is one of those people who was born to be a
teacher – and I agree! She has made my third grade year my best one yet.

Ms. Shapiro is so nice but we also have to follow the rules in her classroom. No one really
minds doing this because we all want her to be proud of us. She understands when we need a
break and works with each kid so that they can do their own work the way that is best for them.
Another great thing is that we get to do really fun projects. We just did a Pop Bottle
Biography project. We each had to chose a famous person and read a biography about them. We
then had to fill out a book report about the person. However, the thing that made this really
special is that we got to decorate a big bottle to look like the famous person! Mine was on
Elizabeth Blackwell and we made her wear blue clothes with a white coat, a stethoscope, and she
had other doctor stuff glued onto her. We presented our reports and bottles to other classes and
they are now up on display in our classroom – it looks so cool! This is one way that Ms. Shapiro
makes learning fun.

I want to nominate Ms. Shapiro for Vroman’s Bookstore Teacher of the Year because she is
the most special teacher. She is nice, kind, smart, and caring. She has made me feel good about
school again and to love learning again – all while making it so much fun!

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Ryan C. Eisenberg. nominated Robyn Wehrly of Hillsides Education Center.

It is with great enthusiasm that I nominate Robyn Wehrly for teacher of the year. Robyn’s passion for teaching and learning, her dedication to our school community, and her endless commitment to providing high quality education to youth with significant social-emotional and learning needs is unrivaled. Over the last eleven years, Robyn has served as an extraordinary instructor in a highly challenging environment, displaying effective and innovative instruction, as well as the caring, compassion, and empathy needed to build strong relationships, enabling her to create opportunity for students who have historically struggled in their schooling.

Robyn is a skilled instructor that could teach in any setting, public or private. She chooses to work for a non-public school setting where she acknowledges the day-to-day difficulties, because she has a passionate belief that our students deserve high standards and effective teachers, in order to help them grow, learn, and find opportunity in their lives. Robyn works tirelessly to plan and deliver curriculum that meets the dynamic needs of our students, while maintaining high standards and an ethical accountability that is a standard for every teacher I bring to our school. Her commitment is demonstrated time and time again, through her long hours, her willingness to assist other teachers, her assuming our role as registrar within our school beyond her teaching, her extraordinary involvement in our WASC accreditation, and in her ability to make time for individual students to help them meet their learning goals.

A true passion for literature and love of learning enables Robyn to create excitement in her classroom. During my five years as Robyn’s supervisor, I see countless students returning to visit Robyn, or call Robyn, as she established strong relationships, and helped provide them with guidance towards their futures. Robyn sparks excitement within our school as well, helping involve our school community in projects, such as the El Deafo project through Vroman’s, just last year.
Robyn once told me her goal was to be as committed as another veteran teacher at Hillsides. That teacher served our setting for more than 30 years, a feat unheard of in the non-public community. Now, I hear newer teachers and our teacher aides who aspire to be a teacher say the same thing about Robyn. HEC, non-public schools, and highly specialized special education settings for students with significant social-emotional and learning needs are challenging places to work. Our students offer behavioral, social, and learning challenges that often create a puzzle that needs to be solved in order to create growth. Robyn’s commitment to solving this puzzle, to providing high standard instruction,
and to meeting the diverse and dynamic needs of our setting are more then words can describe. She loves learning, loves teaching, and is a true professional in her field.

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Parent, Dorothea Fong, nominated Jo-Anne Woolner
of The Gooden School in Sierra Madre. 

My daughter attends 8th grade at The Gooden School in Sierra Madre. During her nine years there, she has encountered many teachers, but no teacher has had the impact that Jo-Anne Woolner has on her education. Mrs. Woolner is in one word a “Super-Star”.

Mrs. Woolner teaches Latin, Social Studies, and is head of the Middle School. She teaches her classes with enthusiasm, excitement, and pure joy – she makes learning FUN!! What can a parent say when your child starts talking about the causes of the civil war? This is not normal in our digital age! Or how this verb word is Latin-based while taking about the Trojan War. These are valuable moments that make you as a parent stop and realize that you chose the right school for your child in Kindergarten. Mrs. Woolner is the best bonus ever and the cherry on top!!

The biggest takeaway is that my daughter loves Social Studies and Mrs. Woolner has a gift to bring it to life in such an interesting way for middle school students to understand and relate to in their own way. Additionally, Latin (a supposedly dead language) comes to life in her classroom when the kids get to see how it relates to their everyday English and Spanish classes. This is a huge gift that is being bestowed upon our children. Our kids that take the SAT/ACT, those Latin vocabulary words will come in very handy. Plus, the children who pursue medicine, science, or many other fields will have such an advantage being exposed to Latin at a young age.

Finally, Mrs. Woolner is the 8th grade home room teacher. That involves the tedious and emotional tasks of guiding 27 kids 8th graders and 27 sets of parents through the high school application process. This is not an easy thing, period. Applications, transcripts, letters of recommendations, shadow days, and interviews must all be coordinated with Mrs. Woolner, the parents, and the applicant school. Add in multiple schools per student and it becomes a huge endeavor. During all of this time, Mrs. Woolner has remained cool as a cucumber, but as loving as a warm puppy. She is a huge reason that our kids get so highly placed in the best schools in the Pasadena area! Thank you, Mrs. Woolner!

 

 

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Parent, Helen Fung, nominated Mr. Anthony Dima of Dana Middle School in Arcadia.

I would like to nominate Mr. Anthony Dima, an English and History teacher from Dana Middle School in Arcadia. He is one of those rare teachers who REALLY care about his students. The reason the students are so connected to him is because he teaches in a way that brings out the best of each student. He does not care if you are a stellar student or an average student. He respects every student for who they are and the way they learn. He jokes with the kids and makes a boring subject come to life.

In addition to being a great teacher, Mr. Dima is willing to be involved in his student activities. He will challenge the kids in soccer and ping pong. He advises his students who are running for Student Council on how to present their speeches. He always says, “Be yourself. Don’t be something you are not.” Mr. Dima was asked to be Santa Claus for the Holiday Concert in which he gladly accepted. The kids and parents just loved it. He played the part so well that it made the concert so much more memorable. Last year, Mr. Dima had a child. He worked until the last minute before he had to go on leave and returned as soon as he could. I asked him why and he said, “I could not leave my students for too long.” There are many students who want to be the Teacher Assistant for his class and take it as an elective, because he is such a cool teacher.

As a parent, I have consulted with him. I have a son who was in his class and sometimes drives me crazy. Mr. Dima response would be, “It’s okay. He is a boy. He will be fine. I know because I once was a boy.” I take this to heart and try to remember this when things are crazy.

In conclusion, Mr. Dima is the teacher that will always remember long after you leave the school because he believed the best in every student. He is very passionate about being a teacher. This is a sign of a TRUE teacher.

 

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