DOWNEY - Peggy Behar, who teaches second grade at Imperial Elementary School, has received the 2008-09 Masonic Teacher of the Year Award.At the dinner and awards ceremonies sponsored by the Masonic Metropolitan Lodge of Downey on Sept. 21, Behar, who began her teaching career with the Downey Unified School District in 1972, was hailed as "an exceptional educator and instructional leader, highly respected by her students, parents and colleagues, and a gifted teacher whose influence has been felt beyond the walls of her classroom." A coterie of co-teachers and school staff cheered as she accepted the award from presenter Alysa Marie Sia, who represented the Lodge. Behar actually started her career as a substitute teacher. She was hired as a full-time teacher a few months after. She has taught grades first through sixth, but for most of her career has taught first and second grade students. Imperial Elementary principal Karen Trejo characterized Behar as "a gifted teacher, one of whose many strengths is the outstanding relationship she establishes with children. She has a talent for creating a wonderful rapport with [them], which in turn creates a mutual respect between teacher and child." The tribute, attributed to Trejo but delivered by Sia, went on with how Behar "creates a safe classroom environment where students are supported, encouraged, and respected, along with encouraging students to challenge themselves and take risks in their learning process. She is particularly skilled in eliciting exceptional growth from her students by incorporating high expectations into the required instructional standards. Every minute in Mrs. Behar's classroom is used as an instructional moment." Behar's efforts at keeping parents constantly informed about their children's educational progress along with suggesting ways in which they can better assist their children with their homework were also underscored, as well as her singular impact on her students: "I live in Downey and often come in contact with former Imperial Elementary students," said Sia, quoting Trejo: "As I talk with these young adults, 99 percent of the time they always ask me if Mrs. Behar is still working at Imperial. When I answer yes, the former students always reply, "She was one of my favorite teachers.' "Peggy Behar is very deserving of this award," said Sia.
********** Published: October 2, 2009 - Volume 8 - Issue 24