California Educator

December 2018 / January 2019

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Page 68 of 75

ERICA BOOMER Upper Lake Education Association G R A D E S 9 – 12 , AG R I C U LT U R E Upper Lake High School , Upper Lake " One of the most important aspects of education is the challenge of appealing to the varying styles of learn- ing unique to each student. My biggest goal is to help students reach their individual potential." Boomer has been teaching for 12 years, all at Upper Lake High, where she is also an alumnus, creator of the Agriculture Education Department, a wood and metal shop teacher, science teacher, and a mentor to new agriculture teachers. She also created a school farm and brought in a California Partnership Academy program related to sustainable agri- culture and alternative energy so that students can have hands-on, career technical education opportunities. The CDE noted that Boomer creates a personal connection with students, and uses humor to help them feel more comfortable and less pressure so that they're ready to interact with the lessons and other students. "Beyond the knowledge, the best teaching practices, the rigorous stan- dards — Erica loves her students," said Angel Hayenga, English Depart- ment Chair at Upper Lake High. "You can hear it in their voices. You can see it in their eyes." ANGEL MEJICO Corona Norco Teachers Association G R A D E S 7 – 8 , A RT El Cerrito Middle School , Corona " I immerse students in tech- nology: cinematography, animatronics, projection map- ping, light boards. Art opens their eyes to alternative world views. It explodes in them, goading them to be great in everything they do." Mejico, who has been teaching for 15 years, five at El Cerrito Middle, realized she wanted to be a teacher during medical school. She earned a doctorate in education, taught high school natural science, and middle school art and physical education. She founded the Art Academy and an annual Art Expo at El Cerrito Mid- dle School with students, staff and the community. But she says her real passion is helping students find their purpose. She teaches art to 450 students each year — general education, English language learners, accel- erated students, and disabled and special day-class students. She seizes cross-curricular opportunities to mix art with core academics. Mejico's "positive attitude is infec- tious," said Kelly Perkins, an El Cerrito Middle physical education teacher. "Dr. Mejico includes all learners in daily curriculum by using their expe- riences, interests and backgrounds while implementing strategies to present visual arts." KIM HOLZ Manhattan Beach Unified Teachers Association G R A D E 4 , M U LT I P L E S U B J E C TS Opal Robinson Elementary School , Manhattan Beach " Although teaching is an ever-changing profession, salient threads are at the core of my practice. Sensitivity, humor, reinforcement, moti- vation, practice, exploration, inquiry and discovery are com- mon threads that weave in and out, throughout my day." Holz has been teaching for 38 years, 21 years in her current posi- tion. She is also a Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports site leader, mentor and leader in her dis- trict's education community. The CDE said that Holz's personal style — anecdotes, connections with students, humor — adds to a learning environment where students feel treasured for their uniqueness and stimulated by a motivating curricu- lum. Each thematic unit of instruction is integrated with literature, writing, math, history, science and fine arts. Lessons are differentiated to meet children where they are and move them successfully to their next steps. "She is a consummate educator of history-social studies," said Katherine Whittaker Stopp, Manhattan Beach Unified's assistant superintendent of educational services. "I've seen no one create learning energy around it like Kim." 67 D E C E M B E R 2 018 / J A N U A R Y 2 019

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