Stonegate’s Donnie Mai is surprised as IUSD’s Elementary School Teacher of the Year

And finally, this year’s Elementary School Teacher of the Year is …

Donnie Mai of Stonegate Elementary School.

Applause erupted as Mr. Mai emerged for a fire drill on the Stonegate blacktop, where students, staff and members of his family were waiting to share the news. It wasn’t long before he was presented with a king’s crown and cloak to wear.

“This whole school is part of my big extended family,” he said. “I just want to thank everybody.”

Mai, a sixth-grade teacher who started at Deerfield Elementary in 2004 and joined the Stonegate staff in 2009, demonstrates an extraordinary commitment to his students. He continually strives to improve instruction by exploring new strategies while working to better understand his students’ individual learning styles.

Mai can often be found helping kids before and after school and is consistently sought out by parents and teachers who seek his assistance. He has also become a leader at integrating technology into the curriculum, training his colleagues to use Bluetooth connections and the latest software to enhance student learning.

So there you have it – the teachers of the year for 2011. Thanks for checking in with us this morning, and our sincere apologies for any typos.

Note that Mai, Campbell and Knight will be formally recognized at the annual Excellence in Teaching Awards Dinner on Friday, May 13, at the Irvine Marriott, along with each of the district’s site-based teachers of the year and Addiss, the Teacher of Promise.

Update: To read the official IUSD news release on the 2011 Teachers of the Year, click here. To access The Orange County Register’s story, along with photos from the surprise announcements, click here.