And the Middle School Teacher of the Year is … Venado Middle School’s Lori Fallace

That’s right, our final stop of the day is Venado Middle School, where health science teacher Lori Fallace has just learned that she is IUSD’s Middle School Teacher of the Year.

The announcement once again followed a fire drill that brought students and staff out to the playground at Venado. Also in attendance was Fallace’s husband, Bill.

“I am honored and excited,” she said as her colleagues offered their congratulations. “I really do work with a dedicated staff, and these remarkable students make it rewarding and thrilling to be here at Venado.”

In a classroom that often includes worms, cow eyes and mold-filled Petri dishes, Fallace guides her seventh-graders through health and science lessons that are unique, organized and inspiring. In this setting, students are encouraged to approach their work as if they were real scientists, engaging in hands-on experiments designed to cultivate a love for learning as well as science.

Lori, a veteran educator who has worked in Irvine since 1985, is a respected leader in her profession, and she played a critical role in developing IUSD’s secondary health curriculum. More recently, she secured grant funding for a health lesson at Venado that enables every seventh-grader to take home a computerized infant simulator, giving students a greater understanding of parenthood.

So those are this year’s Teachers of the Year, who will be formally honored in May at the annual Excellence in Teaching Awards Dinner, set to take place at the Irvine Marriott. They’ll be joined, of course, by each of the district’s site-based teachers of the year, as well as the four Teachers of Promise. Speaking of which, we surprised three of them at their work sites before making our way to Venado.

In addition to Uni’s Katherine Levensailor — we mentioned her in our high school post — this year’s Teachers of Promise are Mackenzie Miklas of Greentree Elementary School, Anna Berger of South Lake Middle School and Bailey Marks of Deerfield Elementary School.

Once again, congratulations to this year’s honorees.