California Educator

December / January 2017

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The California Teachers of the Year Program Presented by California Casualty and the California Teachers of the Year Foundation, the program began in 1972 to honor outstanding teachers. County offices of education nominate educators through their county-level competitions. A state selection committee reviews candidates' applications and conducts site visits to evaluate teachers' rapport with students, classroom environment, presentation skills and teaching techniques. Teachers are interviewed by the California Department of Education. The state superintendent then selects awardees. For information, see ERIN OXHORN-GILPIN Castaic Teachers Association First and second grade Northlake Hills Elementary School " Teaching is an ever-evolving profession, requiring teachers to embrace change and a growth mindset. I never lose sight of what is best for my students." Erin Oxhorn-Gilpin, an 11-year teacher, uses creativity and hands-on lessons to teach her students the basics of reading and writing. One example is a unit where students learn about snails via a picture book, snail races and snail mail. Her young charges organized a fundraiser for the local animal shel- ter, donating the money raised, and learning how they could continue their partnership. "It is that 'moving forward' attitude that makes her one of the best teachers ever," says Castaic Union School Dis- trict Assistant Superintendent Janene Maxon. "Erin is always reflective, always thinking of ways in which to improve, planning next steps for our students' continued progress." KIRSTEN FARRELL United Teachers Los Angeles Sports medicine Venice High School " I have taught future doctors, physical therapists, athletic trainers, and paramedics. Because of what has happened in Shop-6 at Venice High School, someone's life will be saved." Growing up in a military family and constantly moving from place to place has given Kirsten Farrell a special understanding of the importance and stability that a teacher can provide to students. She credits her outstanding fifth-grade teacher for inspiring her to become a teacher. Farrell has been teaching for 21 years, the last 15 at Venice High, where she is the lead for the Sports Medicine Academy. As an ROCP career tech- nical education teacher, she provides students with hands-on skills and experiences that can be transferred to careers and college. She's also a nationally certified athletic trainer and leads a team of student trainers who know CPR and emergency action plans. Student Gia Perrone says, "From giv- ing someone a place to heal to a place to feel welcome, we always know we can count on Ms. Farrell." GREGORY GARDINER Huntington Beach Union High School Dis- trict Educators Association AP and SAC environmental sciences and biology Edison High School " My challenge to my colleagues all across America is this: Join me. Innovate. Sustain. Connect. Together, we can improve education for all our students. And our students will change the world." A science teacher for 18 years, Greg- ory Gardiner teaches AP classes and started an environmental science program at Edison for students with special needs. He is a founding mem- ber of the Academy of Sustainability and Engineering, a group of science, technology, engineering, art and math (STEAM) courses that is now a model for the district. He' been instrumental in creating an innovation lab where students can have hands-on experiences, problem-solve, and build sustainable systems applying STEAM concepts. Lab projects include aquaculture breeding programs for tila- pia and a remote-controlled hydrogen fuel cell car project. Edison High colleague Elliot Skolnick says of Gardiner, " There is nothing he will not do to help a student or cause reach their potential." 63 D E C E M B E R 2 017 / J A N U A R Y 2 018

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