Monday, May 7, 2012

Teachers of the Year Honored by San Diego Unified School District

Ellie Vandiver
Three teachers get the big honors, but each San Diego Unified school's teacher of the year will be honored during ceremonies Tuesday night at Madison High School.

A former nurse, a high-school dropout and a second-generation staff member are San Diego Unified's 2012 Teachers of the Year. They, along with runners up, are eligible to compete for the San Diego County Teacher of the Year.

The 2012 teachers are: Elle Vandiver, biomedical sciences, University City High School; Joey Lepetri, English/history/video, Marshall Middle School; and Patti Read, third grade Special Education, Lindbergh/Schweitzer Elementary School.

“Few other professionals touch as many people as teachers do,” said Superintendent Bill Kowba. “This year’s Teachers of the Year, selected by a committee of their peers, are an extraordinary group of individuals who exhibit passion for their profession and compassion for their students in their own unique ways.They are representative of the thousands of district teachers who each day inspire and enable students to work hard, strive for their best and ultimately achieve success.”

Joey Lepetri
Tuesday's ceremony will honor Teachers of the Year from each school, along with the new National Board Certified Teachers. In addition, the San Diego  Education Fund will introduce its 2011-12 Future Educator Scholars, MASHIN
Scholars and STEM Scholar. It is scheduled for 4:30 p.m. Tuesday, May 8, at Madison High School, 4833 Dolvia Drive. The event is free and open to the public; it is also a regular Board of Education meeting.

Read discovered her interest in teaching students who face physical and health challenges at the age of five, when she started spending her summer vacations volunteering in her father’s medical therapy unit that was housed at Lindbergh/Schweitzer.In her 32 years of experience, she has enjoyed a lifetime of celebrating her students’ accomplishments.

“I want students to always feel successful in whatever they're doing," she said. "At the same time, what are we learning from it, and what skills are we getting from this?"

Patti Read
Lepetri struggled as a young student, eventually dropping out of high school.Today, he looks to make connections with students who are growing up in tough circumstances. Once that connection is made, learning comes easier.
"When I was 19, I realized that I was missing something in my life, and that was my education," he said. "The educational journey transformed my life."

Vandiver began her career as a registered nurse in Michigan. She discovered her passion for teaching after working with high school interns in her hospital’s intensive care unit. Now in her 12th year of teaching, Vandiver strives to help her students see connections between the curriculum and the real world,having seen more than 20 of her students become nurses, as well as doctors, medical researchers and other occupations in the medical field.Her challenging courses also let students know if the field is really for them.

"Taking this real-world knowledge and bringing it to the kids is what I strive for every day," she said. "Because I have that background, I can open doors."

Read, Lepetri and Vandiver will compete for San Diego County Teacher ofthe Year, along with the district’s three Runners-up, Garth Hebbler from Rolando Park Elementary,Steven Santana from Lewis Middle School, and Michael Pedersen from Serra High.

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