DOWNEY – Jill King, Robert Mallory, Grant Warhurst and Gale Mejico have been named “Teachers of the Year” by Downey United Masonic Lodge 220. This annual award, which first began in 1964, is presented to a teacher from each level in the Downey Unified School District.
Jill King, a transitional kindergarten teacher, was selected for her “unwavering dedication and superior service” to the students at Unsworth Elementary School.
Beginning her teaching career at Maude Price in 1991, King was one of only two teachers on the original teaching staff at the time Unsworth reopened in 1994.
“Highly knowledgeable on the Common Core State Standards, she creates a learning environment that is inviting and student centered, teaching her students to work independently and become self-directed learners,” DUSD officials said.
“In addition to Mrs. King’s superior teaching skills, she consistently demonstrates a thoughtful, considerate and supportive attitude,” stated Unsworth principal Yolanda Cornair. “Her children and parents love her, and she is a person of high moral and ethical character.”
Robert Mallory, an English teacher at Doty Middle School was chosen as the second Masonic Teacher of the Year.
Teaching in the same classroom since becoming part of the East Middle School staff in 1989, Mallory has taught a variety of classes during his 26 years, imparting the knowledge and skills that Doty students need to compete in top universities.
“A key attribute of top educators is the quality of being a life-long learner,” said Brent Shubin, Doty principal. “Mr. Mallory is always looking ahead, always incorporating new techniques and is never afraid to take bold new steps; he is a stellar example of what being an outstanding educator is all about.”
Mallory was the first teacher at Doty to “flip” his classroom, using online resources for instruction and guided practice during class time. He also serves as an “instructional technology coach,” leading and assisting other teachers as they transition into 21st Century education techniques.
Selected from the high school level, math teacher Grant Warhurst from Downey High School, started his teaching career in 1986 as both a PE and math teacher.
Becoming the head football coach in 1993, he won four league titles and had two trips to the CIF semi-finals during his 14 years as a coach, even mentoring current Viking’s head football coach Jack Williams.
In his 20-plus years at Downey High, Warhurst has taught nearly every math class offered and is currently taking on a new entry-level math class designed to be hands-on and application-based which is better aligned with the Common Core State Standards.
Downey High’s principal, Tom Houts, had nothing but admiration for Warhurst.
“Grant’s positive attitude and willingness to try new approaches, and his willingness to keep improving instruction to better meet student’s needs, are admirable,” he said.
Finally, Gail Mejico from the Downey Adult School was selected as the final Masonic Teacher of the Year.
After joining the adult school in 2006, Mejico quickly moved up to the lead vocational nurse instructor, teaching both theory and hands-on skills to her students.
“Gail goes above and beyond to fulfill her teaching duties and serves as a role model, advocate and mentor for all of her students,” stated Blanca Rochin, principal at DAS.
“All four of the Downey Unified teachers that were awarded the Masonic Teacher of the Year exhibit qualities that direct students down a path that leads them to be citizens of strong character and globally competitive, while providing them with the appropriate tools to be both college and career ready,” DUSD officials said in a statement.
Published: May 21, 2015 - Volume 14 - Issue 06