As you’ll recall, we’ve joined a caravan of dignitaries this morning to make a handful of surprise visits to Irvine schools, where we’re announcing this year’s elementary, middle and high school Teachers of the Year.
Moments ago, we made our first stop to University High School and revealed that this year’s High School Teacher of the Year is … Michael Gerakos.
A round of applause ignited as Superintendent Terry Walker called out Gerakos’ name in Uni’s multipurpose room. On hand were Board of Education members Sue Kuwabara and Sharon Wallin, Irvine Teachers Association President Tim Jamison, district staff and members of the Exchange Club of Irvine, which collaborates on the annual recognition program with ITA and our district.
Gerakos was almost immediately presented with a flowery lei and greeted by his wife, Kathy, his son, Nick, and his mother-in-law, Lois Powers.
“I’m proud to be part of this team and the IUSD team,” he said. “Thank you.”
An activities director, teacher, baseball coach and club advisor, Gerakos is a Uni icon who has made a profound impact on the high-performing campus. Colleagues say “Mr. G” can often be found at school in the evenings and on weekends, doing whatever it takes to ensure the success of his students, both academically and personally.
With his student-athletes, he promotes character in addition to skill, and he brings the same approach to his adaptive P.E. students, instilling determination and confidence. Hired by the district in 1994, Mr. G also serves as the advisor of Uni’s Best Buddies club, which partners up students with special needs with their general education peers for activities and events, including school dances and bowling.
Meanwhile, there was another surprise announcement at Uni.
Science teacher Katherine Levensailor was told that she is this year’s Teacher of Promise. This accolade is annually bestowed on first- or second-year educators who go above and beyond in demonstrating a professional curiosity and enthusiasm for teaching.
So, for the second straight year, Uni can boast a Teacher of the Year and a Teacher of Promise. Now if you’ll excuse us, we’re off to our next campus — and we’ll give you a hint. It’s an elementary school with a slippery mascot.