Brawley Chamber names Teachers of the Year

Van Baker, a Special Education Teacher at BWJH, is one of three Teachers of the Year

BRAWLEY – Van Baker, BESD, Albert Padilla, BUHSD, and Henry Robles, Westmorland Elementary School District, were chosen as Teachers of the Year for their respective districts Thursday night at the Brawley Chamber Teacher Appreciation Dinner.


Van Baker is a special education teacher at Barbara Worth Junior High. He has been working with special education for 25 years.


Baker said, “I love what I do. When I can make a difference in lives, it is worth going to work. This award is icing on the cake. I’ve been told I can’t retire and I’m fine with that!”


Albert Padilla, a 9th, 10th, and 11th grade Algebra I and English teacher at Brawley High, said, “I’m really blessed. I love being a part of this amazing school. I love the atmosphere there and I am honored to receive this award.”


Henry Robles, an 8th grade teacher at Westmorland teaches math and science. “I love being around the kids and instilling positive choices in their lives.” Robles runs a math and science program after school program where the students build robots and different scientific projects.


Anne Mallory, Imperial County Superintendent who handed out the awards along with Jason Zara, executive director of the Brawley Chamber said, “I have known Henry since he was a child in my class. He was always a joy to teach, and it was wonderful to watch him excel at BUHS as a scholar-athlete. Now I see him on weekends with his MESA (Mathematics, Engineering, Science Achievement) class at Aviation Day, showing them how what they are learning applies in the airplane industry. He truly deserves this honor.”



Brawley Chamber decided to honor the teachers with a nice, sit-down, steak dinner this year instead of feeding them lunch immediately before school opens as they are rushed to prepare their rooms.


National Beef donated the beef and C & R Hacienda prepared the food with other donations coming from Fiesta Tortillas, Lawrence Cox Ranches, and A Thing Called Cake.


Liz Gonzales, of Hart Insurance, spearheaded the dinner. “I wanted to do something bigger and nicer for the teachers. Everyone I asked to sponsor tables or donate all said ‘yes’ without hesitation when I said it was for the teachers.”


The other teachers recognized were Leslie Estelle Van Der Linden, BUHS, Raymond Lopez, BUHS, Erlinda Eaton, BUHS, Andy Burnett, BUHS, Armida Martinez, Witter, and Isabel Pimentel, Phil Swing.


The Teachers of the Year were given a trophy courtesy of GP Awards, 2 tickets to Sea World and Sea World gift bag, dinners at the Original Town Pump, and a $100 Costco gift card from Jimmy Sanders Architect.

[nggallery id=60]


  1. Van baker is an awesome teacher and a GREAT Person. Congratulations to all the nominees. Our Northend Teachers are the best.

Comments are closed.