Student Anabel nominated Mr. Byron Flitsch of Aveson Charter School

I think my teacher, Mr. Byron Flitsch, deserves to be named Teacher of the Year.
Mr. Byron is by far the greatest and funniest teacher I have ever had in my entire life.

Mr. Byron connects with every kid in a way I have never felt or seen before. I definitely think that we have a special connection and I am sure a lot of kids feel that way because that is how he makes you feel. Mr. Byron is always there for me when I’m sad and when I’m mad to help me talk out my feelings and figure out a solution to the problem. He celebrates being happy and enjoying life.

I love my teacher for so many reasons. First, he plays Beyonce in class. Second, he is passionate about what he does every single day. Mr. Byron wakes up every morning, and comes to school to do this difficult job with love. Have you ever dealt with eighty kids a day? I’m pretty sure it is not easy. Whether we are working on projects, discussing life lessons, or figuring out how to be the best person, Mr. Byron is there to help. His favorite answer is, “Sure, anything you need!”

Mr. Byron has inspired me to be a good person. He makes me feel like if I set my mind to something I can reach any goal. He makes people feel they have worth and should be confident. He has changed me for the better. He teaches me to research and learn about the world. He teaches me so much about random and very valuable life lessons that I think I’m going to need later in life.

I am proud to say that Mr. Byron is my teacher. Every room he walks into lights up. He is so loved because he makes everything fun even when I don’t think that’s possible. I want him to win this award because I want everyone to know that he will always be the best teacher in the world.
Mr. Byron makes the world smile!

I’m writing this because I know that he deserves this more than any teacher. I truly believe there is no other teacher that deserves this award more than Mr. Byron. Please give this award to Mr. Byron.

Allison Hill Talks Teacher of the Year!

by Jessica on May 29, 2017

By Allison Hill

Of all the wonderful experiences and great joys that make up my job, I think my favorite is judging the Vroman’s Teacher of the Year Award. I am one of several judges given the great honor of reading essays submitted by our customers celebrating their teachers. I read though the nominations one day at an outdoor café during a lunch break and quickly realized that this was not a job to be done in public; I found myself moved to tears over and over again. Students wrote of teachers who had ignited in them a love of reading and a desire to learn, teachers who made learning fun, teachers who made students feel important and loved. Parents wrote of teachers who consistently went above and beyond in their jobs, teachers who had changed their children’s lives, and in some cases even saved them.

Over the years I have been lucky to have my own extraordinary teachers whose lessons have lasted me a lifetime: Mrs. Brittain, my badass fourth grade teacher who set expectations high and inspired me to meet them, not for her, but for myself. Mrs. Dewey, my 7th grade teacher whose lessons on diagramming sentences taught me not only sentence structure but how to think of words as building blocks to create new worlds and make my voice heard. Professor Vance, who changed the way I saw the world and my role in it.

Our winning teacher this year is so deserving and we are thrilled to bestow this title on her and take this opportunity to celebrate her.

We know that there are countless other teachers in our community doing this great work every day and that the real winners are our children and we say thank you.

Anna Kleindorfer nominated Mrs. May of Chandler School

Mrs. May is amazing for many different reasons. She is the librarian at our school and knows every single book in the library. She has great character, and she teaches us many things about searching on the internet as well as all the different genres of books.

Mrs. May knows where every book in the library is and if you are looking for a specific one out of thousands, she’ll point you directly to it. She also knows each and every single one of us students. She takes her time to get to know us and everything that we like to read. Mrs. May is almost like a best friend to every student, helping them with anything they need. She knows what types of books each one of us is interested in reading. To me, that is very impressive and I think she deserves recognition.

Mrs. May also has an amazing character, which makes her such a great person. She is kind and super helpful by assisting us with any of our needs, such as researching on a topic for a project, advising on books to read for an informative essay, helping with citing sources, picking out a book for a book report, and much more. She is also caring to each student at our school. Another great character trait that she has is that she is trustworthy. You can depend on her information, the websites that she points out to you, or any books that she hands to you.

Lastly, Mrs. May teaches us many things about the internet like which sites to look at and how to know they have true information, or how to safe search. Best of all, she teaches us in the most fun ways possible! She has changed my life in many different ways and has gotten me to love reading so many genres of books. Mrs. May could be one of the most inspiring teachers I have ever met.

As you can see, in my opinion, she is one of the best teachers of all time because of all these reasons. I really appreciate all that she has done for my school, my friends, but most of all, I am thankful that I had the opportunity to have her in my life. What a difference May makes!

Christine Moreno nominated Karla Keese of Elliot Institute

Why does Karla Keese deserve recognition as “Teacher of the Year”?

To be honest, she deserves this award every year. She is my daughter, Heather’s, teacher in a special needs program at the Elliot Institute.

The Elliot Institute specializes in educating low functioning children with compromised cognitive abilities. Many of the students, including Heather, are autistic and non-verbal. Although, labels like autism can be painted with a broad stroke, each child is unique. Their ability to grasp concepts is limited individually, moving each one forward incrementally. These special children find language confusing and cannot express themselves. They often resort to screaming and tantruming out of pure frustration. Ms. Keese uses pictures, sign language, speech therapy techniques, iPads, tablets, gestures, visual aids, music; in short, every imaginable avenue to aid communication is employed. It is like a daily miracle because she does reach them, and those days add up. The children gain life skills, for example the ability to recognize icons for safely crossing the street. Perhaps, you are thinking, “so what”? It is so insignificant, a typical child could learn that skill in an hour, maybe less, while Heather and her classmates may need months or a year. Nevertheless, it could still save their life.

I shall digress with some background information about Heather. She was a foster child whom I adopted. However, I did not have custody until Heather was five, she is twenty-one now and in her last year of school with L.A. Unified. Karla has been her teacher for a dozen years. Heather’s first five years of life were torturous. Her biological mother never spoke to her, she was tied up in a crib without freedom of movement, and she was given only formula for nourishment causing a severe eating disorder. Consequently, Heather was a tortured soul capable of screaming for hours on end. Today, she is beautiful and mostly calm, although still without functioning use of language and is still quite limited in ability. However, she communicates to get her needs met, loves school, listens intently to stories that are read to her, can type her name on a keypad and grasps many small concepts. This progress is tremendous and Karla Keese deserves credit for enveloping Heather with an immense spirit of gentle determination, patience, and kindness, day after day. Of course, Heather is only one student in the class. Many children have benefited from Karla’s gentle but determined pedagogical expertise.

Please recognize Karla Keese for the Vroman’s Teacher of the Year award.

Morgan nominated Mandy Madnikoff of Polytechnic School

Where do I start with my all time favorite teacher Ms. Madnikoff? This wonderful woman knows each and every student as their own person. I love her so much and am dreading to move on to 6th grade without her next year. She is such a great role model of positivity and doing the right thing. My fellow classmates and I wouldn’t be the same person without her as our 5th grade teacher. She cares about each and every one of us like her own child and is always there to talk. Whether it’s a bully or bad dream, she will always be there to comfort you and give advice. She knows us so well that in class she can recommend a book to someone based off their interest. She even shares many personal stories about herself with us. Every day people will go up to her desk in the morning and ask things like, “How’s Lincoln (her baby)?” or “Did moving go well for you?” And she always answers with a big smile and a warm hug. Also, aside from giving us recommendations, she takes ours. Now every Wednesday night we are both watching the TV show Survivor.

Ms. Mandikoff has taught each and every one of us how to love our lives and never take things for granted. One part of loving our lives, she says, is that you always have to be kind. She uses the quote from Wonder “If given the choice to be right or kind choose kind.” We have a jar that every time we show an act of kindness we get a marble. Once we get 115 marbles we get to spend the whole day at school relaxing, reading, watching movies, and eating popcorn in our pj’s. Ms. Madnikoff has made reading a joy to all of us. We have a little cozy library in the back of our classroom. Almost every day we have something called Squirt (super quiet uninterrupted independent reading time.) During Squirt if you don’t have a book to read she will take you into our library and we will go through tons of books until you find one you like. Also, we have reading groups and we go around in a circle reading and the day after we talk about what we just read. As a class, she reads one book out loud to us as often as we have time. Right now we are reading The Remarkable Journey of Charlie Price (a book I recommended). In Ms. Madnikoff’s class there are no boring textbooks. Instead, we watch people singing about historic events. And in writing, to study about old fairy tales, we read one and ask each other questions about the from the character’s point of view. From her warm hugs to her amazing stories Ms. Madnikoff is the best teacher a student could ever have.


Noah nominated Mr. Brian Jehue of Arroyo Vista Elementary School

I am in seventh grade and throughout my education I have had numerous great teachers, but my overarching favorite was my second grade teacher, Mr. Jehue. He has a plethora of good qualities, including being extremely smart, funny, encouraging, and enthusiastic about learning. He pushed our class outside of our comfort zone and we really enjoyed what we were being taught.

Mr. Jehue cares about each student and makes sure everyone is challenged. One of my fondest memories is when Mr. Jehue challenged my friend Sasha and me to build rockets. Sasha’s did not work but mine soared over the playground fence into a neighbor’s yard! Also, one day during lunch Mr. Jehue gave Sasha and me the task of building a Rubbermaid cart for the janitors. It was difficult but fun. He really fueled our love of learning in a creative and interactive way.

Mr. Jehue also excels at teaching P.E. He made us super excited about getting exercise. The games we played were phenomenal and my favorites were “Dunkin’ Donuts” and “Who Let the Dogs Out.” In “Dunkin’ Donuts”, Mr. Jehue rolled a hula hoop across the grass and we had to see how many times we could run through it before it fell to the ground. “Who Let the Dogs Out” was based on capture the flag and Mr. Jehue played the song while we were playing the game. Even in third grade, I remember joining P.E. with the second graders while I was at recess.

Mr. Jehue is really funny. I remember that every day he wore a different tie, and when parents came to visit and observe our work, he would dress up as a funny character from a movie, such as Chief Bogo from Zootopia, or a giant banana. Even though Mr. Jehue expected a lot from us, he used humor to create a safe, comfortable, and positive learning atmosphere.

Mr. Jehue is always looking for fun and creative ways to help kids challenge themselves and learn to their full potential. As I look back on my past teachers, Mr. Jehue stands out as my favorite.

Tom Louie nominated Isis Gonzalez of Miramonte Elementary School

I would like to nominate Mrs. Isis Gonzalez, a teacher of the third grade at Miramonte Elementary School, Los Angeles Unified School District, as Vroman’s Teacher of the Year. Isis is much loved and admired by students and co-workers alike, and she has always lifted the spirits of those around her with her cheerful, positive outlook. Although she is very strong in her Christian faith, she never seeks to impose it on anyone; rather, she seeks to set a positive example through her life and work. She has been here for us through some of our school’s most difficult times, and she has always helped to make those times easier.

When I heard of Vroman’s Teacher of the Year, I was uncertain about whom I should pick, so I asked my fourth grade students. By far the majority of them enthusiastically picked Isis, who has been their teacher the year before. In their words:

Bryan, age 9: “We don’t have times tables in their grade, but she taught us anyway because she wanted us to be prepared. You wouldn’t automatically get in trouble, the colors are green-yellow-red-blue, and she would talk to your mom, it’s kind of fair. She gives you four warnings, and if you’re good you can switch back to green, or go back one color.”

Joycelyne, age 10: “When kids were poor she gave them shoes and food. We did the daily news and she would ask us what we did on the weekend. She was nice and pretty. She read stories every morning.”

Itzmin, age 10: “She should be Teacher of the Year because she does the daily news in the morning, and she talks about the news and makes you write about it and think about how you can solve problems in the news. She encourages kids to be good, sit down, do their work and be brave.”

Armando, age 10: “She’s fun. Every morning she shows the daily news. If you get table points you get a pizza party. She teaches the times tables with manipulatives, and whoever gets it first wins, and it’s table by table. On rainy days, she shows cartoons or a movie and if everyone finishes their book reports she shows a movie like Soul Surfer.”

Joseph, age 10: “One time the computers weren’t working and she called her husband who brought a new computer. We all called him Mr. Gonzalez. After we finished a chapter book, we would get a pizza party and watch a movie.”

So there you have it. According to her former students, who are in the best position to know, she is challenging, encouraging, inspirational mindful of her students other needs besides education, compassionate, fair, resourceful, contemporary, relevant and makes learning fun. And that’s in addition to what she has done for our staff. I hope this meets your criteria for Teacher of the Year.

Sadie nominated Ms. Dawn Rangel of Odyssey Charter School

Ms. Dawn, my teacher, deserves this award for many reasons. So many that I could not say all of them in a book the size of Harry Potter.

One very important reason why Ms. Dawn deserves this award is because she is respectful. I had been afraid to make mistakes in almost every subject. She explained to me and others who were feeling like I was that it’s good to make mistakes because then you learn and that she didn’t mind if we made one.

Another very important reason why Ms. Dawn deserves this award is because she is kind. When I didn’t understand a math lesson, she took me aside privately, during quiet time, and helped me which she does with everyone when they don’t understand a math lesson.

A third very important reason why Ms. Dawn deserves this award is because she makes learning fun. For example, in readers’ workshop last year we got to draw out the scene we were working on as well as write it. Another example is that we get to do math on the computer as well as learn it from her!  Now do you see why she deserves this award?

Because she is respectful kind, fun, and so, so much more!

Marsais nominated David Clark of Aveson Elementary

I think you are a very good teacher. You are a nice teacher. You are helpful to the kids at Aveson. You have taught me how to read better. You taught me how to write better too.
So I feel like you deserve this award.


Natalia nominated Ms. Ashley Nava of Jackson Elementary STEM Dual Language School

I think she should be Teacher of the Year because she taught me how to speak more Spanish.
She also taught me how to do math really fast.