Teaching Excellence Awardees 2016

The five 2016 Teaching Excellence Awardees share a profound passion for instilling a love of learning in their students so that each student can attain their goals and realize their dreams. By carefully and thoughtfully weaving creativity, adherence to high standards, profound knowledge of the subjects being taught, and appreciation of individual differences, needs and strengths, these award winning teachers raise the quality of education to new heights.

Marissa Glidden Excellence in TeachingMarissa Glidden, 6th Grade Self Contained Classroom, Dover Elementary School                        

Ms. Glidden believes that “all students have the ability to succeed and become leaders both in their own education and in the community”.  Her main goal as a teacher is to make sure that her students are empowered leaders and motivated, passionate students on the path to reaching their college and career goals.  To accomplish this, her classroom is focused on student leadership and student centered learning.  Students run the classroom in seven different committees that align to the main classroom goals.  Each committee sets their own short and long term goals in order to motivate all students to reaching their big goals.  By working in these committees, students are developing a growth mindset, holding themselves to high expectations and learning how to advocate for themselves.

Krysten Loy Excellence in TeachingKristyn Loy, 6th Grade Math & History Teacher, Elizabeth Stewart School K-8                                        

Ms. Loy is fortunate in that she has known that she wanted to be an educator since the 2nd grade.  She has very strong roots with WCCUSD as her mother was a teacher for the visually impaired for over 30 years and she attended Sheldon, Crespi, and Pinole Valley.  One of her beliefs about teaching is that it is her job to empower children to become lifelong learners.  For her, one of the most important things in teaching is to establish trusting and respectful relationships with her students.  “Once my students feel safe physically and emotionally, then the real learning can begin!”  She loves teaching and doing her part to build a positive school community, where students feel empowered to learn and realize the impact that they have on the world.

Taylor Rainier Excellence in TeachingTaylor Rainier, 7th & 8th Grade Special Education Teacher, Lovonya DeJean Middle School                

“My hero and motivator is Paulo Freire, who viewed education as a liberating practice with student agency at its core.” Ms. Rainier believes teachers should learn from students just as much as students learn from them.  She sees her job, as an educator, to deeply understand where her students are coming from, the talents and knowledge they already possess, and what their end goals are.  By making lessons as relevant as possible to her students, and validating their funds of knowledge, she feels that she opens up doors to their futures. Ms. Rainier started her teaching career at DeJean Middle School as a Teach for America corps member in 2012. This is her fourth year as a Special Education teacher.

Helene Burks Excellence in TeachingHelene Burks, Biology & Environmental Science Teacher, El Cerrito High School                          

“Building strong relationships and nurturing curiosity are at the core of my approach to teaching”.  Ms. Burks believes that building relationships  between herself and her students  creates an atmosphere in which the students are able to be vulnerable about what they do and do not know, take risks in attempting new skills, and feel trust and security in a way that brings and energy and openness to the classroom.  Her classroom creates a ripe setting for growing curiosity through inquiry and exploration in the sciences.  She is continually inspired, entertained, and motivated by her students’ passion for justice and drive to improve themselves and the world around them, which mirrors her own.

'16 Lawrence Pang-001A-DG smallerLawrence Pang, Math Teacher,  El Cerrito High School                                                                                

Mr. Pang believes that it is not the role of a teacher to “make learning fun”.  Rather, it is the role of the teacher to show students how satisfying learning can be, and how important it is when it is not.  “To focus on fun is to engage a student for a lesson.  To establish a need is to teach a student how to engage themselves for a lifetime.”  He strives to teach students to embrace and welcome each challenge as an opportunity to grow and learn about themselves—the greater the challenge, the greater the reward.  A high quality failure has as much value as some successes.  Whether the student is ultimately successful in defeating any one individual challenge is not as important as how they respond to the adversity.  The art of teaching is finding the correct level of challenge.

Join us in honoring the Teaching Excellence Awardees at the Ed Fund’s 28th Annual Soaring to Excellence Celebration on Friday, May 6 from 7:00-9:00pm at the El Cerrito High School Performing Arts Theater. The event is free and open to the public. Click here to RSVP.

To enjoy the full photo album of our awardees, click here. Photography generously donated by Don Gosney.

Meet our 2016 Collaborative Partner of the Year here.