Monday, September 26, 2011


County honors 16 teachers for work

By Connie Llanos, Staff Writer, LA Daily News |

9/24/2011 01:00:00 AM PD - A cadre of 16 educators was selected Friday as best in class as the Los Angeles County Office of Education announced its annual Teachers of the Year.

Teachers of all subjects and grade levels -- including three from the San Fernando, Santa Clarita and Antelope valleys -- were chosen from among 69 educators nominated by their school districts in the annual contest.

"These hard-working teachers have been judged by their colleagues as exemplifying the very best of this wonderful profession," county Schools Superintendent Arturo Delgado said during the ceremony at the Universal Hilton.

"Every day in the classroom they make the most of a precious opportunity -- to make a positive difference in the lives of their students."

Rebecca Mieliwocki, who teaches seventh-grade English at Luther Burbank Middle School, was overjoyed by the honor.

"These types of acknowledgments don't come that often for teachers ... to be noticed in this way is more than I ever imagined," Mieliwocki said.

She said connecting with students and making them feel "hopeful" is one of the no-fail teaching tactics she's implemented in her 13 years of teaching.

That strategy is also used by fellow honoree Traci Grove, a fourth- through sixth-grade teacher at Summerwind Elementary in Palmdale. Grove's colleagues praise her for using her artistic talents to motivate her young scholars.

At Northlake Hills Elementary in Castaic, fifth-grade teacher Timothy Garman said he's prided himself on getting at-risk students engaged in classes.

Each teacher recognized will receive a $1,000 prize provided by the California Credit Union and qualifies for the state Teacher of the Year contest taking place in November.

16 Los Angeles County educators named teachers of the year

-- Rick Rojas/LA Times/LA Now |

September 23, 2011 |  1:24 pm - Sixteen teachers from throughout Los Angeles County were named Friday as teachers of the year, the county Office of Education said.

The winners were selected from a pool of 69 teachers who entered in the 30th edition of the annual competition and had also been selected as teacher of the year in their respective school districts.

Each of the winners received a $1,000 cash prize from California Credit Union, the main sponsor of the award. They will advance to a statewide competition, where five winners will be selected as California teachers of the year. One of those five will proceed to the national competition next spring.

The winners were chosen after being interviewed and submitting essays and lesson plans to a panel of peers who served as judges.

A complete list of winners is after the jump.

Talmage Jones, a science teacher at Arcadia High School who has taught for 26 years.

Victoria Velasquez, a first-grade teacher at Mountain View Elementary School in Azusa who has taught for 21 years.

Elsa Hernandez, a special-education teacher at Stephen Foster Elementary School in Bellflower who has taught for 11 years.

Rebecca Mieliwocki, a seventh-grade teacher at Luther Burbank Middle School in Burbank who has been teaching for 13 years.  >>

Timothy Garman, a fifth-grade teacher at Northlake Hills Elementary School in Castaic who has taught for 11 years.

James Tighe, a math teacher at Whittier Middle School in East Whittier City and a 30-year veteran of teaching.

Rache Haserjian, teacher of the year Florence Avognon, an English and reading teacher at Central Juvenile Hall, an Office of Education school inside a youth incarceration facility. She has taught for 18 years.

Rachel Haserjian, a calculus teacher at West Adams Preparatory High School in Los Angeles who has taught for four years.

Zachary Weiss, a math teacher at Luther Burbank Learning Complex in Los Angeles who has taught for 11 years.

Zachary Weiss, teacher of the year Terry Little, a fourth-grade teacher at Ascot Avenue Elementary School in Los Angeles who has taught for 18 years.

Linda Okumura, a first-grade teacher at Pacific Elementary School in Manhattan Beach who has taught for 29 years.

Michelle Ramos, a first- and second-grade teacher at La Pluma Elementary School in La Mirada who has taught for 19 years.

Terry Little, teacher of the yearTraci Grove, who teaches fourth, fifth and sixth grades at Summerwind Elementary School in Palmdale. She has taught for 23 years.

Linda Gentry, a kindergarten teacher at K.L. Carver School in San Marino who has taught for 35 years.

Nicoline Chambers, a science teacher at West High School in Torrance who has taught for eight years.

Ken LaVigne, who teaches 10th, 11th and 12th grades at La Serna High School in Whittier. He has taught for 27 years.


Photos: Teachers Rachel Haserjian, Zachary Weiss and Terry Little were the teachers from Los Angeles Unified School District who were among the county educators named teachers of the year. Credit: Los Angeles County Department of Education    Rebecca Mieliwocki photo from the CLMS.

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