IUSD makes surprise visits to schools to announce the 2012-13 Teachers of the Year


So we’re in the office a little early this morning, and for good reason.

Irvine’s three Teachers of the Year, representing the district’s elementary, middle and high schools, will soon be revealed during surprise visits to their respective campuses.

School board members Lauren Brooks and Sharon Wallin, Superintendent Terry Walker, Irvine Teachers Association President Tim Jamison, district staff and previous honorees will be the ones to deliver the awards, which are sponsored by ITA and the Exchange Club of Irvine.

As we have in previous years, we’re going to travel with the team to post the winners as they’re announced, so be sure to refresh this post throughout the morning. Also, we should point out that we’ll be sending our dispatches very quickly from our smartphone, so please forgive any typos.

And now a little background: The Teacher of the Year program is in its 27th year, and it recognizes exceptional instructors at the elementary, middle and high school levels. Nominations are submitted by district employees, and candidates are later interviewed by a committee made up of teachers, principals, administrators and Exchange Club members.

The committee ultimately narrows the field to the final three using the following criteria: Evidence of a wide range of instructional strategies used effectively; commitment to the teaching profession; and demonstration of Irvine teachers’ values of integrity, empowerment, learning, collaboration and trust.

Meanwhile, the district also recognizes its top first- and second-year teachers. They’ll be announced this morning as “Teachers of Promise.” Stay tuned.

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8:55 a.m., Venado Middle School

Our prize patrol van of well-wishers has trundled over to Venado Middle School, where instrumental music teacher Brendan McBrien has just been named Middle School Teacher of the Year.

Superintendent Walker made the announcement during McBrien’s second-period class. His wife Karen was on hand for the celebration, as were his children, Kevin, Megan and Patrick, and his father-in-law, Bill Schertle.

“Thank you all very much for coming,” he said. “What a surprise.”

McBrien has inspired instrumental music students for more than 25 years, including 23 at Venado, where he has taught band, orchestra and guitar classes.

A talented musician and composer in his own right, McBrien has written or arranged hundreds of original pieces, including more than 30 published songs. In fact, we’re told he has arranged or composed much of the music that his students perform, considering carefully the interests and abilities of his middle school musicians.

Note that Venado wasn’t actually the first stop of the day. We kicked off the morning with a trip over to Greentree Elementary School, where education specialist Erin Clarke was named one of four Teachers of Promise for 2012-13. And moments after McBrien’s announcement, another Venado educator was honored. First-year social science teacher John Beckman was named as the district’s second Teacher of Promise.

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9:57 p.m., University High School

Our next stop is University High School, which in recent years has been a virtual T.O.Y. factory. (See what we did there?) This time the spotlight is on science teacher Joe Huber, who is officially IUSD’s High School Teacher of the Year for 2012-13.

“The whole thing has been a wild ride,” he said. “I’m just kind of in shock.”

A Uni staff member since 1996, Huber presents science lessons with enthusiasm and passion, differentiating instruction and assessments to meet the needs of each student.

As state and national requirements have changed over the years, Huber has been integral in efforts to modify the freshman and sophomore curriculum. His colleagues say he collaborates effectively to maintain an appropriate level of rigor, and he prepares his students for higher level science courses by promoting critical thinking skills.

Meanwhile, we have two more Teachers of Promise to announce. Allison Lewis, a fourth-grade teacher at Westpark Elementary School, has earned the honor, as has Uni’s Dana Kramer, who teaches art, including ROP.

And now we’re off to reveal the final Teacher of the Year at an Irvine elementary school. Or possibly a K-8.

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10:38 a.m., Plaza Vista School

Last but certainly not least, Plaza Vista’s Scott Bedley has just been announced as IUSD’s Elementary School Teacher of the Year.

This time, the festivities spilled out onto the blacktop, where Bedley was presented with a king’s cape and crown in front of hundreds of cheering students and colleagues. Special guests included his wife, Kristen; the couple’s 2-year-old son, Dean; his mother, Sally; his sister, Jana Miller; his mother-in-law, Judy Leonard; and other family members.

“I am just shocked and excited,” he told the NewsFlash.

A teacher for nearly 20 years, Bedley is considered a model of innovation and student engagement, exemplified by his successful efforts to establish Plaza Vista’s first Technology Applied Science Fair. That contest, with judges from Blizzard Entertainment, Broadcom, Google and Honda, challenged nearly 100 students in grades three through eight to develop their own software, apps and websites.

Bedley has also co-authored a standards-based character curriculum book and served as a keynote speaker for teacher trainings.

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And that’s it for our live coverage. We should point out that each of this year’s recipients will be honored in May at a special awards dinner that will also recognize outstanding educators from each site. In the meantime, we offer our heartfelt congratulations to IUSD’s Teachers of the Year and Teachers of Promise.

Update: The Orange County Register’s Lauren Jow also covered the Teacher of the Year announcements and interviewed each of the winners. You can find her coverage here.