Masonic Lodge honors Teachers of the Year

DOWNEY -- Nancy Hooker, William Holmes and Marci Vasquez were named Teachers of the Year by the Downey United Masonic Lodge. The three educators received their awards April 8. The annual award is given to teachers of all levels of education -- this year’s awards were presented to a teacher from each level in the Downey Unified School District.

Starting at the elementary level, Mary Weyers, principal of Maude Price Elementary School, had nothing but smiles when she presented fourth-grade teacher, Nancy Hooker, with one of this year’s Masonic Teacher of the Year awards.

“What makes her the best is the way she reaches every student, she knows students need to be heard,” stated Principal Weyers.

Hooker was hired at Price in 1999 and has taught fifth, third, and most recently fourth grade, while serving on many curriculum committees and being her grade level representative for many years.

Eighth-grade social studies teacher, William Holmes, received the next award presented by West Middle School principal Alyda Mir. Holmes believes students deserve the best and pushes them to be actively engaged in History, bringing it to life by dressing in character when teaching certain history topics.

Co-coordinator of the History Club, participating in various staff productions such as a T-Bird in "Grease" and the great and powerful Oz in the "Wizard of Oz," Holmes is very involved in extracurricular activities to engage his students at all times.

Principal Mir finished by saying, “West is lucky to have such an enthusiastic, caring, and determined staff member that keeps his students’ interest a high priority.”

This year’s last Masonic Teacher of the Year award was given to Marci Vasquez, a Warren High School English Language and Development (ELD) Teacher.

Principal Laura Rivas spoke about Vasquez’s vast accomplishments since joining the WHS staff in 2000. First, piloting the Expository Reading and Writing Courses (ERWC) curriculum back in 2007 and turning it from a pilot program to currently the primary college prep curriculum for 12-grade students; Vasquez is passionate about making sure ELD students get an accurate placement and have the same opportunities and access to school programs as all other students.

“She exemplifies the characteristics and criteria for the Masonic Teacher of the Year recognition through her active participation in the development and delivery of rigorous curriculum,” said Principal Rivas ending her speech. “She has earned the respect and trust of her colleagues, counselors, administration, students and families.”