Tag Archives: Teacher of the Year

Burroughs High Drama Instructor Guy Myers Named A 2020 California Teacher Of The Year

John Burroughs High School Drama instructor Guy Myers was named one of the five California State Teachers of the Year for 2020 by State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond on Friday, October 4.

“These five incredible teachers receive this prestigious honor for their focus, drive and determination to teach young people in California,” Thurmond stated in a press release.

Burbank Teacher of the Year for 2019, John Burroughs High School Drama teacher Guy Myers, was name one of the five California Teachers of the Year for 2020 on Friday, October 4. He was selected as one of the 16 Los Angeles County Teachers of the Year on Friday, September 20. (Photo Courtesy Guy Myers)

“They are not only wonderful representatives for our state, but they also make profound differences in the lives of their students and their communities by employing innovative strategies to increase academic success and narrow the achievement gap among a broad range of students.”

Myers, along with Cupertino High School’s ELD and business law teacher Sean Bui, kindergarten teacher Brenda Barreras from Good Hope Elementary in Perris, Trabuco Mesa Elementary sixth-grade multi-subject teacher Mandy Kelly and West Sonoma County Consortium kindergarten through third grade special education teacher Katya Robinson, will join Thurmond for a luncheon and orientation day later in the month.

They will also be recognized at a State gala in January 2020, along with the other finalists from regions throughout California. Bui will move forward to compete against other State Teachers of the Year, with the U.S. Teacher of the Year announced in the spring of 2020.

The five new California Teachers of the Year for 2020 will promote and be ambassadors for the profession statewide during the next year.

“It is important to motivate and inspire other educators, champion the positive contributions of the teaching profession and highlight the rewards of being a teacher,” Thurmond added. “Great teachers are the core of a great educational system. Yes, teaching changes lives of individual students, but beyond that, teachers show us all that all children can achieve, no matter who they are.”

Burroughs High School Drama teacher Guy Myers takes a photo of one of his casts. (Photo Courtesy JBHS Drama.)

“It is a humbling and overwhelming honor to be chosen as one of the Teachers of the Year for California,” Myers commented when reached within hours of the announcement on Friday afternoon. “I grew up in public schools, and I am made up from all of the wonderfully supportive and caring teachers who nurtured me along the way.”

“I am so lucky to work with such terrific, creative teachers here at Burroughs and to have a completely dedicated administration who helps me be the best I can be for my students,” Myers also said. “I am so grateful for this acknowledgement of the work I do in the classroom and on the stage.”

A short video about Myers can be viewed online here.

The California Teachers of the Year program began in 1972 as a way to recognize outstanding teachers and encourage new teachers to join the profession.

John Burroughs High School Drama teacher Guy Myers poses with his Play Production class at the California Educational Theatre Association awards in this photo from January 25, 2019. (Photo Courtesy JBHS Drama.)

Burbank Honors Public Servants in Community Service Awards

Boy Scout Troop 210 of Burbank. (Photo by © Ross A. Benson)

On Wednesday, August 30th, Burbank honored our own hometown heroes with a Community Service Awards ceremony at the Elks Lodge. The awards event was two years in the making, and honorees were made up of the 2015 and 2016 years. The event was organized by the  Burbank’s Elks Lodge 1497, and with little help from Burbank’s very own Boy Scouts Troop 201.

The awards proved to be a good reminder Burbank’s city leaders are some of the best in the country. That same reminder is more important now after the La Tuna fire, which you can read more about here. Now, without further ado, let’s go over the list of award recipients!

 Teachers of the Year

Center Jan Hacker. ( Photo by © Ross A. Benson)

For the 2015 year, Sara Line was given the Teach of the Year award for an outstanding job in promoting achievement and success to our young students here in Burbank.

As for the 2016 year, Jan Hacker of John Burroughs High School was awarded Teacher of the Year. As for what this award means to her, Hacker had this to say:

It’s really been an honor to be included with the other individuals that were here tonight, mostly because it’s very representative of the kind of town Burbank is all about. The people that I’ve met here tonight are all parents, students, and grandparents. That’s what it’s all about: Everybody being a part of the same thing. Tonight really made me feel like that. With officers, firefighters, city workers – to be included in that crowd, and to be representative of what Burbank is all about, it’s a huge honor for me.

Police Officers of the Year

Officers of the year were awarded to incredible public servants who have gone above and beyond to ensure they’re the best they can be for the city of Burbank. The following officers were awarded for the 2016 year:

Officer Cindy Guillen

Sergeant Joshua Kendrick 

Sergeant Adam Baumgarten

(Photo by © Ross A. Benson)

Sergeant Mark Stohl


After the awards ceremony, I was able to catch up with Officer Cindy Guillen to ask her what this award meant to her:

This award is very special to me. One, because there was a lot of hard work that we put in. My partner and I were one unit, working together and working for the community. We did everything we possibly could to not only make the community better, but to mend the gap between the police department and the community. The work we did is appreciated through this award and we’re very grateful to be honored.

City Employees of the Year

For the 2015 year, Bradley (Brad) Recker was awarded for his unrelenting passion to make Burbank better.

For the 2016 year, Bill Parrish was awarded for his outstanding service to the community.

Firefighters of the Year

Captain Daryl Isozaki. (Photo by Ross A. Benson)

Firefighters of the year are chosen by other firefighters. By voting for an individual, firefighters are essentially choosing the best representation of the entire department.

Captain Daryl Isozaki was awarded Firefighter of the Year for 2015. Isozaki has been a part of the the Burbank Fire Department for 31 years. After the ceremony, I caught up with Captain Isozaki to get his take on his award:

It’s a privilege. I’m on the tail end of my career right now, and I’m going to retire this year. I’ve seen a lot of things change over the years and the one thing that doesn’t change for the Fire Department is their quality and talented people that we have. It’s a privilege for me to be able to mentor some of our young firefighters and help them out in their career. This is a good expression of the department expressing years of service and some of the contributions we’ve made.

As for the first thing he’s going to do after retiring, Captain Isozaki simply plans on going fishing.

Engineer Andrew Chest. (Photo by © Ross A. Benson)

Engineer Andrew Chest was awarded Firefighter of the Year for 2016. On the award, Chest had this to say:

It’s an appreciation of the hard work, it’s an appreciation of the department for me, and I hold it with high regards. It is indeed an honor to be here tonight. It’s pretty prideful to receive this award. It’s who your peers think who deserves the award, that’s what’s honorable about this.

If you’d like to see more of the ceremony, take a look at the pictures below!

Walmart Surprises Stevenson Teacher Of The Year With Gifts

R. L. Stevenson Elementary School’s Sara Line, the Burbank Unified Teacher of the Year, was surprised with gifts from Walmart at a school assembly on Monday morning, October 3.

“Burbank Walmart Store Manager Panthi Patel and associates Rosy Lopez and Mayra Hinojos  presented Line with flowers, balloons, a collection of classroom essentials and a Walmart gift card for $490.

(Photo by © Ross A. Benson)

Pictured from L/R School Board President Larry Applebaum, Director of Second Education Peter Knapik, Superintendent Matt Hill, Sara Lane, Burbank Walmart Manager Panthi Patel, Store Associates Rosy Lopez and Mayra Hinojos.  (Photo by © Ross A. Benson)

Burbank Unified School Board President Larry Applebaum, Superintendent Matt Hill, Director of Human Resources Anita Schackmann and Director of Elementary Education Dr. Peter Knapik all attended the event.

“We are so appreciative of Walmart and their recognition of our teacher Sara Line,” commented Stevenson Principal Christina Desiderio. “Being honored today on California Art Day was perfect! Mrs. Line has a strong arts background and is an expert in integrating art into the curriculum.”

(Photo by © Ross A. Benson)

When Sara Line’s name was called during the assembly she was shocked. (Photo by © Ross A. Benson)

“She believes that all students can succeed with hard work and dedication. The students and parents absolutely adore her. The staff and I are very proud of her accomplishments.”

The Los Angeles County Teacher of the Year finalist teaches fourth grade.

Ms. Line is an 11-year teaching veteran who was recognized by the county for encouraging her students to take risks and using their mistakes as opportunities to grow, according to a Walmart news release. She was one of 16 teachers throughout the county and 75 across the state to be so recognized.

The National Retail Federation estimates teachers will spend an average of $490 of their own money this year on classroom-related expenses.

(Photo by © Ross A. Benson)

(Photo by © Ross A. Benson)

(Photo by © Ross A. Benson)

(Photo by © Ross A. Benson)


Burbank Teacher Of The Year Honored By County

Burbank Unified School District teacher Darla Gerharter joined more than 70 teachers from Los Angeles County as they were honored by the L.A. County Office of Education as district Teachers of the Year at a luncheon held Friday, September 19, at the Universal Hilton in Universal City.

“I am very proud to represent Burbank Unified,” commented Gerharter, who currently teaches at Walt Disney Elementary. “I am especially proud to represent our district as a special education teacher.”

“Our teachers are very dedicated and work really hard to meet the needs of our students,” she added. “I’m proud to be part of a great team.”

Burbank Unified Teacher of the Year Darla Gerharter was honored by the L.A. County Office of Education. (Photo Courtesy of Darla Garharter)

Burbank Unified Teacher of the Year Darla Gerharter was honored by the L.A. County Office of Education. (Photo Courtesy of Darla Garharter)

Gerharter was a special education teacher at Joaquin Miller and Ralph Emerson Elementary schools before joining Disney. She started out as a substitute teacher for BUSD in 1999 and was a special education aide until she earned her credential to become a full-fledged special education teacher.

A native of Honolulu, Hawaii, Gerharter received a B.A. in fine arts from UCLA. She worked for a time in the garment industry in Los Angeles, before going into education.

“Darla was chosen as our Teacher of the Year for her willingness to do what ever is necessary to make all of our students successful,” said Disney Principal Melissa Kistler. “She provides focused support to special needs children and works tirelessly to provide the staff with intervention strategies to support students who have struggled in general education.”

“Darla is also active in our PTA and Boosters,” continued Kistler. “She heads our Multicultural Night and the Read Across America campaign at our school. Her ‘can do’ attitude inspires us all!”

“For the past 15 years, Darla Gerharter’s teaching has been a model of educational excellence,” commented BUSD Superintendent Dr. Jan Britz. “Her instructional skills and tireless dedication to students and their families have had a positive impact on countless children and families.”

The Los Angeles County Office of Education sponsors the Los Angeles County Teachers of the Year Program, an honors competition and awards luncheon that spotlights excellence in public education. The county program, the largest in the state, is part of the California and National Teacher of the Year programs.

Burroughs Teacher Jill Tobin Honored by Los Angeles County of Education

Jill Tobin with her husband, Randy, at the ceremonies recently held. (Photo Courtesy BUSD)

Jill Tobin with her husband, Randy, at the ceremonies recently held. (Photo Courtesy BUSD)

On September 27, JBHS science teacher Jill Tobin was among those honored at the 2013-14 Los Angeles County Teachers of the Year event. One of 16 teachers selected for this recognition, Tobin has been teaching students at Burroughs for nine years.

President Presents Teacher of the Year Award to Rebecca Mieliwocki

Here is the transcript of the President Barack Obama today as he presented the Teacher of the Year award to Rebecca Mieliwocki.  She will be back in Burbank Monday, April 30, at 3:30 p.m., when the Burbank Unified School District will hold a “Welcome Home” event at Luther Burbank Middle School.  The public is encouraged to attend to help welcome home our local hero and acknowledge her incredible achievement.





East Room



10:11 A.M. EDT



THE PRESIDENT:  Wow, thank you, everybody.  (Applause.)  Thank you.  Everybody, please have a seat.  Have a seat.  Welcome to the White House.

Before we get started, I want to recognize one of our greatest advocates for education and for teachers, our Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan, is here.  Give him a big round of applause.  (Applause.)

President Barack Obama and Education Secretary Arne Duncan congratulate 2012 National Teacher of the Year, Rebecca Mieliwocki in the East Room of the White House, April 24, 2012. The President hosted the event honoring the 2012 National and State Teachers of the Year . (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Now, let’s face it, a lot of important people visit the White House.  (Laughter.)  But to young people in classrooms around the country, nobody is more important than the men and women that we honor here today — the State and National Teachers of the Year.

These are the kind of teachers who change lives forever.  I wouldn’t be here today if it were not for teachers like these who challenged me, and pushed me, and put up with me, and inspired me — and set me straight when they had to.  And I think everybody here can say the exact same thing.

Teachers matter.  That’s why I often tell young people:  If you want a guarantee that you’re making a difference every single day, become a teacher.  A teacher is the key to a child reaching their potential.  And if we need more proof — (baby chatters.)  Yes, it’s true.  (Laughter.)  Yes.  She agrees.  (Laughter.)

And if we need more proof that teachers matter, all we’ve got to do is look around this room.  I’m honored to be here with teachers like Gay Barnes, from Madison, Alabama, one of the four finalists for this award.  There’s Angela Wilson, who teaches children of military families at Vicenza Middle School, in Italy.  Not a bad place to hang out.  (Laughter.)  There is Alvin Aureliano Davis, who teaches music in Florida.

And there is our 2012 National Teacher of the Year, Rebecca Mieliwocki, from Burbank, California.  So give Rebecca a big round of applause.  (Applause.)  And this is Rebecca’s crew right here — (laughter) — who are very proud.  Auntie and cousins and — (laughter) —


THE PRESIDENT:  Oh, boss.  (Laughter.)  Even more important.  (Laughter.)

Now, you might say that teaching is in Rebecca’s DNA, because both her parents taught in public schools.  She saw how hard they worked, how much time and energy they devoted to their jobs, how much they gave to their students.

But when she was 18, of course, the last thing she wanted to be was a teacher.  What teenager wants to do what their parents are doing?  (Laughter.)  So in college, she really rebelled and went to law school.  (Laughter.)

Now, she then tried a few different careers after that.  After studying to become a lawyer, she went into publishing and floral design and event planning.  But ultimately, she found herself drawn back to the classroom, and her students are so lucky that she did.

She’s got high expectations for her 7th graders and for herself, but she also knows that school can be fun.  And that fits a personality that she describes as “a 12 year-old goofball dying to get out.”  (Laughter.)  And I have to say, she was a little goofy when I met her.  (Laughter.)  She was back there teasing me and asking Arne about our basketball games and stuff.  (Laughter.)  You can tell she’s just got a wonderful spirit.

And so in addition to everything they learn in her English class, Rebecca’s students have had a chance to film their own adaptations of an O. Henry short story.  They worked with a local writer to develop five-minute plays, which professional actors then performed.  Rebecca has led field trips to the science center, to the aquarium, to Chinatown, even the La Brea tar pits — that’s a trip you really don’t want to lose track of anybody.  (Laughter.)  Only one kid?  (Laughter.)  They never showed up that morning — (laughter) — I was wondering where they were.  (Laughter.)

Rebecca knows that education also is a responsibility that begins at home.  So she hosts family nights to get parents involved.  She sends home weekly parent memos so moms and dads know what’s going on in school.  She maintains a Facebook page for her class, where families can get information and updates 24/7.

And all this extra work makes a huge difference.  When kids finish a year in Rebecca’s class, they’re better readers and writers than when they started.  But even more than that, they know how important they are.  And they understand how bright their futures can be.  And they know that if they work at it, there’s no limit to what they can achieve.

So Rebecca is the definition of “above and beyond.”  And so many teachers around the country are like her.  She throws herself into her work for a simple reason:  She knows that her students depend on her.  And as she puts it, “Life is too short and too difficult to have anything less than the most engaged, enthusiastic teachers in schools.”  I couldn’t agree more.  And I know Arne couldn’t agree more.

I also want to point something else out.  Rebecca said in applying for this award, she said that in some ways it’s harder than ever to be an educator.  Even in the best of times, teachers are asked to do more with less.  And today, with our economy still recovering from the worst recession since the Great Depression, states and communities have to stretch budgets tighter than ever.

So we’ve got a particular responsibility as elected officials in difficult times, instead of bashing teachers to support them.  We should be giving states the resources to keep good teachers on the job and reward the best ones.  And we should grant our educators the flexibility to teach with creativity and passion in the classroom and not just teaching to the test.  And we should allow schools to replace teachers, who, even with the right resources and support, just aren’t helping our kids to learn.

Because we’ve all got something at stake here.  Our parents, our grandparents — they didn’t build the world’s most prosperous economy and the strongest middle class in the world out of thin air.  It started with a world-class education system.  That was the foundation.  And in the long run, no issue will have a bigger impact in our success as a country and the success of our citizens.

So every day, when teachers like you put in long hours, or dig into your own pockets to pay for school supplies, or tweak lessons so they’re even better than they were last year, you’re not just serving your schools or your students, you’re also serving your country.  And you’re helping to preserve the basic promise of America, that no matter who you are, where you come from, what you look like, what your last name is, you can succeed.  You can make it if you try, if you put in the effort.

So on behalf of the American people, thank you all for everything that you do.  And congratulations.  I’m going to present this spiffy-looking award to Rebecca Mieliwocki.  (Applause.)

President Barack Obama honors the 2012 National and State Teachers of the Year in the East Room of the White House, April 24, 2012. Sharing the stage with the President are Education Secretary Arne Duncan and 2012 National Teacher of the Year, Rebecca Mieliwocki, 7th-grade English teacher at Luther Burbank High School, Burbank, California. (Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson)

Burbank’s Mieliwocki Named California Teacher of the Year

 Rebecca Mieliwocki

Rebecca Mieliwocki is shown with Burbank Superintendent Stan Carrizosa at a recent awards ceremony at the Burbank Elk's Lodge (Photo By Ross A. Benson)

Thursday, Mrs. Rebecca Mieliwocki received a personal call from State Superintendent, Tom Torlakson, informing her that she has been selected as California’s 2011 Teacher of the Year!

Mieliwocki began her teaching career at John Burroughs High School and has taught 7th grade English at Luther Middle School for the past 9 years. She was recently honored as LA County Region 16 Teacher of the Year.

As California’s statewide 2011 Teacher of the Year she will also visit Washington DC and represent California as the nominee for National Teacher of the Year.

Burbank School Superintendent Stan Carrizosa commented in a release, ” This honor is an incredible tribute to her outstanding teaching abilities. She embodies that very unique and special blend of strength in her personal core values, combined with flexibility in her willingness to continue to learn, grow, and adapt in her profession to meet the ever-changing needs, demands, and expectation for our students.

On behalf of our School Board, District, our talented staff, and the incredible students and families of Luther Middle School, we offer our heartfelt congratulations!”