EL CENTRO – The best of the best in teaching rose to be honored by the Association of California School administrators (ASCA) Thursday night at the Old Eucalyptus School House in El Centro.
Brooke Kofford and his Imperial High School Jazz Ensemble entertained for the first hour during the meal with popular jazz numbers such as ‘Sing Sing’, ‘Zoot Suit Riot’, and ‘Suit Tie.’
The annual Teacher of the Year Ceremony named Kenton Hems as the “Administrator of the Year”. The architect is the Facilities, Maintenance & Operations Manager at the Imperial County Office of Education.
Anne Mallory, ICOE superintendent, introduced Hems, extolling his ability to not only read blueprints but his forward looking ability to save tens of thousands of dollars at ICOE with the installation of solar panels.
The following elementary teachers were nominated by their district superintendent and school principal six months prior, and then, according to Juan Cruz, President-Elect of the ACSA, the nominations were evaluated “with a rubric to choose the top teachers.”
Lynne Bumbera of Imperial’s Ben Hulse Elementary was lauded for her “leadership, innovative drive, and her unique abilities” by her principal. Lynn has been a teacher for 25 years.
Lynne said, “My parents installed in me the importance of giving back to the community. My community is the 1000 students at Ben Hulse.”
Jason Freeman, another Ben Hulse teacher, was celebrated for the wonderful rapport he develops with his students, that, and he takes 30 students outdoor camping for 2 nights and three days each year.
Lisa Davis, a teacher for 29 years, was nominated by her principal Debra Hale of Witter Elementary in Brawley. Hale said of Lisa, “She is a natural leader, a consummate professional and is loaded with patience. Lisa is the most outstanding teacher I know.”
Carmen Hernandez of Hedrick Elementary in El Centro was chosen as Teacher of the Year for her ability to annually take the “worst class she has ever seen” to a class that is respectful and bright. She demonstrated her “evil eye” look to the 200 in attendance.
Laine McFadden, a kindergarten Special Education teacher at Lincoln Elementary in El Centro, has taught for 30 years. Her principal said of Laine, “ She is an inspiration to students and colleagues, she works diligently. Lincoln is lucky to have Laine as a teacher.”
Calexico’s Rockwood Elementary nominated Lucia Mora-Chavez as their outstanding teacher.
Lucia said upon receiving her plaque, “Thirty years ago I changed my profession from nursing to teaching. Teaching is my passion.”
The final elementary teacher chosen as Teacher of the Year was Maria Munoz of Jefferson Elementary of Calexico. Her principal said of her, “Maria has a motor that never stops, she is full of strategies, and she has a remarkable rapport with the community.”
Jose Flores, of Brawley High, was chosen according to Principal Simon Canales, because he is a “man of action.” Canales said, “Jose takes the marginal and successfully moves them into the mainstream.”
Jose told the room, “From the time I was eleven, I worked the fields – every weekend, holiday season, and summer. My parents always told me that without an education I would never leave the fields. I am here today because of them.”
Ernestine Nieto of San Pasqual Valley Middle School has taught 16 years, with the last 8 as a 6th grade teacher at San Pasqual. She was introduced as having the highest quality of teaching practices.
Ernestine said, “We are all part of ‘team puzzle’ and we have to learn to work together to make a cohesive unit.”
The last to be honored for the evening was Coach Ron Shane, the IVROP teacher at El Centro. His principal noted that Ron built the automotive ROP class from the ground up and has turned it into one of the best in the state.
Ron said, “The District looked at the Automotive Class like an investment to build, and not as a cost-prohibitive project. As a result our students get a first class education in auto mechanics and get hired at the major car dealerships here in the Valley.
Besides a plaque naming the teachers as the 2014 Teacher of the Year, the ACSA also gives them a gift certificate.