Elementary Teacher of the Year
This year’s Elementary School Teacher of the Year is Stacie Grooters, a Science Specialist at Culverdale Elementary School. She has worked for IUSD for more than three years.
Stacie loves teaching students and brings passion and commitment to hands-on lessons to get students excited about science. She makes rigorous science curriculum accessible to all students by weaving in personal stories and humor.
“Students think they’re playing, not realizing they’re learning, being held accountable to work collaboratively and engaging in critical thinking,” said Culverdale Principal Aaron Jetzer. “She has a wealth of information and stays current on new scientific discoveries, which she shares with students daily.”
Stacie infuses technology into her lessons to enhance the learning experiences for students. She is one of a handful of teachers in California who uses augmented reality computers that feature sound, video, graphics and other data to develop engaging instruction for students. She continually strives to create experiences for her students that will deepen their love of learning.
Middle School Teacher of the Year
Middle School Teacher of the Year is Henry Miller, an Music teacher at Sierra Vista Middle School. He has been with IUSD for 26 years.
Henry strives to get the best out of every student in his music classes, whether it is a beginner or a highly experienced musician. He is dedication and constructive teaching style have made him a well-liked and respected teacher by students, staff and parents alike.
“I have seen Henry teach for 12 years and have seen his program at Sierra Vista evolve into a program where students not only excel but love making music,” said fellow Sierra Vista Teacher Eric Zuercher. “The students are learning, having fun and making music at a very accelerated level.”
In addition to Henry’s tremendous work in the classroom, he began volunteer charitable field trips to elementary schools to bring music to students with special needs, called “Giving Bach.” Under his leadership, his students have formed an award-winning, extra-curricular jazz band.
Through Henry’s leadership, he is inspiring a lifelong love of music in his students and his passion for teaching has had a positive impact on all.
High School Teacher of the Year
The High School Teacher of the Year is Steve Sewell, a Social Science Teacher at Irvine High School.
He has worked for IUSD for 33 years.
Steve exemplifies dedication, commitment and collaboration inside and outside of the classroom. Under his leadership, Irvine High School involved more students in National History Day than any other high school in Orange County for the past two years. Twelve of the projects became finalists and seven projects advanced to the state competition. He has also organized an all-school canned food drive for a local homeless shelter, raised money for clean water in developing countries and lead or participated in a variety of school spirit initiatives.
“Steve’s dedication to the teaching profession and the District needs to be recognized,” said fellow Irvine High School teacher Jerry Judd. “Steve’s contributions to our students and community each year make him an invaluable leader and an inspiration to his students and those who work alongside him.”
He continually looks for professional learning opportunities to enhance how he teaches students. Steve has participated in the UCI Writing Project Summer Institute, the UCI Critical Thinking Project and a reading apprenticeship in History.
Steve continually strives to be the best teacher he can be and in the process has positively influenced those who work with him and those he teaches.
About the Teacher of the Year Program
Now in its 30th year, IUSD’s Teacher of the Year program 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 that includes teachers, principals and administrators.
That panel ultimately narrows the field to 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.
IUSD also recognizes a handful of standout first- and second-year teachers, who are announced as “Teachers of Promise.” Click here for the 2015-16 Teachers of Promise.
All of this year’s honorees will be formally honored in May at the Excellence in Teaching Awards Banquet, which is organized each year by the Exchange Club of Irvine and ITA.