School board honors Downey teachers

DOWNEY - Two outstanding individuals and one entire elementary school which continues to break academic records each received the Superintendent's Vision Award on Tuesday, all in the area of instruction, even as the entrance to the district from Brookshire Avenue was dedicated and named "Respect Road" after one of the pillars of Character Counts (it was installed the week before).The Board first heard Alyda Mir, West Middle School principal, present the many important contributions being made to the school by the honoree, Trirath "Tri" Transopalucks, otherwise referred to as "Mr. T." Mir said Transopalucks, the sixth grade exploratory technology, West TV and Project Lead the Way teacher, is "a huge advocate for getting our sixth graders interested in technology, math, science and engineering (or STEM)." In this role, Mir said Transopalucks collaborates with Warren High's Glenn Yamasaki, who is the second Vision Awardee for the evening, to ensure that his PLTW students are "ready for high school and have the opportunity to continue on the path to becoming engineers." Towards this end, she said he is also working closely with the Columbia Memorial Space Center to find opportunities for his students to become "better acquainted with science and technology." In fact, among his other eye-popping accomplishments is his creation of the WMS Robotics Club, which is poised to compete with other robotics clubs from throughout the state. Warren High School principal John Harris presented the school's ace aerospace engineering teacher Glenn Yamasaki next. He said universities are now recruiting Warren students to fill enrollment spots in their engineering schools, mainly due to Yamasaki's teaching methods and specialized skill set. Yamasaki is himself an '87 Warren High grad and has a BS in aerospace engineering, Harris noted, and made a career change in 1993 to teach math and science at Warren. He now has over 100 students in the school's sequential PLTW program, but there's been no doubt that he has been 'the guy' from the get-go, Harris said. The third honoree was the entire Ward Elementary School, presented by assistant superintendent of educational services Jerilyn King-Brown. She said first off that Ward has attained its goal for the past three years of "having an Academic Performance Index (API) of 800 or above. They were at 800 in 2009. They were at 821 in 2010. For 2011 they achieved a score of 872 - the highest in the district and the highest ever for a school at DUSD." She then enumerated a lengthy list of effective school policies and practices under the leadership of Ward principal Jennifer Robbins, who accepted the award on behalf of staff and school. Among the polices and practices that have contributed to the school's notable success, with a blurring of ends and means: the development of high quality teachers, supported by ongoing professional development; lessons exhibit thorough planning making for better student learning; instructional time is valued and student engagement in learning is maximized; the use of technology to support student learning and achievement; using and analyzing data to drive the instructional program; using student engagement strategies and SIOP; teachers using essential standards, common assessments, and sharing best practices; the use of technology such as laptops and iPod Touch devices as instructional tools; etc., etc. The school was then presented with a large, specially-designed banner honoring the entire faculty and staff.

********** Published: November 17, 2011 - Volume 10 - Issue 31