California Educator

February 2016

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Teachers of the Year Five remarkable educators step into the spotlight DANIEL JOCZ, United Teachers Los Angeles/AFT, teaches social studies (AP U.S. history) at Downtown Magnets High School, Los Angeles Unified School District. Look at Jocz's YouTube channel, and you'll see a variety of videos with titles such as "The Best Damn Vietnam War Lec- ture Ever " and "1790-1860: The Market Revolution Reviewed!" They feature contemporary music and pop culture references, but are crammed with factual information and mesmerizing detail. All of them have excited comments from students, such as: "You've pretty much saved my life" and "Dude, you're the best… Honestly, these explanations are so on point." The videos are only one of the innovative ways that Jocz uses to reach and teach his students. He is particularly proud of the curriculum he created that incorporates the perspectives of all groups of people. "The experience of African Americans, women, immigrants, workers, the poor, and LGBT individuals is American history," he wrote in his application. Jocz is one of four finalists across the country for 2016 National Teacher of the Year, to be announced in April. "Each day I strive to capture the magic, complexity and wonder of history for my students. All too oen my students from neighborhoods as diverse as South Central, East Los Angeles and Chinatown rarely see themselves as being part of American history." T H E 2 0 1 6 California Teachers of the Year are a diverse bunch. One's a decorated Army vet, with three tours of duty in Afghanistan and Iraq under her belt. Another will only teach at Title I schools because she wants to show that all kids, regardless of background, can achieve. What these educators have in common, however, is a commitment to teaching excellence. "Every day in the classroom [these five teachers] inspire students to learn, excel and realize their full potential," says state Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson, who chose the awardees from a field of candidates. "eir work provides a great example for other teachers." e Teachers of the Year program, presented by California Casualty, began in 1972 to honor outstanding educators and encourage new teachers to enter the field. Teachers are evaluated on rapport with students, classroom environment, presentation skills and teaching methods. Finalists and semifinalists will be honored by Torlakson at a gala in Sacramento on Feb. 15. For information about the program, see 52

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