Student & Educator of the Month 2013/14

Lakers Read to AchieveCongratulations to all of the 2013-14 Lakers Student and Educators of the Month!

Please check back next season to nominate your student or educator to win the chance to be honored at a Lakers home game. Nominations will begin in early September 2014.

April 2014

The Lakers are proud to announce the April 2014 Student and Educator of the Month winners! This month’s student winners are Jacob Duenas, Isabella Chavez and Natalie Christensen. The winning teachers are Kerry Skoczylas, Megan Rowerdink and Angel Carmona. Each winner demonstrates an outstanding commitment to academia, athletics, and community outreach.

Student Educators of the Month

Jacob Duenas, a kindergartner from Wilkerson Elementary. Jacob has mastered 220 sight words and is described as a critical thinker who is wise beyond his years. Jacob stays active by playing several sports including, soccer, basketball and t-ball.
Isabella Chavez, a 6th grade student and Student Council President from Longden Elementary School. Isabella has been an honor roll student for 3 straight years and has received the Character Award for her positive behavior. Isabella participates in the Reading Buddy program that allows her to use her Spanish skills to help bilingual students at her school.

Natalie Christensen, a 12th grade student from Newbury Park High School. Natalie is enrolled in Advanced Placement and IB level classes and is a consistent recipient of the Principal’s Scholar Athlete Award. In her spare time she is the captain of the cheer team and volunteers at St. John Hospital. Natalie hopes to someday become a nurse.

Kerry Skoczylas, an English and Math teacher from Sierra Vista Junior High School for the past 20 years. Teaching honors math, her 7th grade students have performed exceptionally well. Described as dedicated, creative, and professional, Mrs. Skoczylas spends her Saturday’s teaching a remedial math class for those students who need a little extra help.

Megan Rowerdink, a 6th grade teacher at Ralph J. Bunche Elementary School. In her 9th year teaching her hard work, dedication and determination has lifted Bunche Elementary to another level. Known to be an outstanding 6th grade teacher inside and out of the classroom Rowerdink has organized a mentoring program called Ladies of Bunche and is also the coach of the school cheer team.

Angel Carmona, the band director from Paramount High School. Mr. Carmona is known to always have a positive attitude. He spends countless hours with his students teaching both a 0 period course and evening practices for his dedicated marching band. Carmona’s band is described as the heartbeat of the school, filled with the most responsible students on campus.

Each Student and Educator of the Month winner was invited to the home game on April 11th, 2014 vs. the Golden State Warriors. They were honored during a halftime presentation where they received a plaque and a Lakers Student and Educator of the Month t-shirt. The nominations for the April Student and Educator of the Month were submitted by principals and teachers of each school based on exemplary teaching efforts, academic achievement or extracurricular activities.

March 2014

The Lakers are proud to announce the March 2014 Student and Educator of the Month winners! This month’s student winners are Claire Reyes, Maya Batiste and Himani Sharma. The winning teachers are Matt Howard, Sheila Edwards and Heather Shotke. Each winner demonstrates an outstanding commitment to academia, athletics, and community outreach.

Student Educators of the Month

Claire Reyes, a 2nd grade student from Stanford Avenue Elementary School. Claire, a straight A student, who was recently the winner of the Dr. Seuss Essay Contest where she wrote about the importance of reading and where it will take her in life. Outside of Claire’s academics she is a member of the afterschool program Woodcraft Rangers that provides kids with positive afterschool activities.

Maya Batiste, a 6th grade honor student from 96th Street Elementary School. Maya is a high achieving writer who scored a perfect on her California State Writing Exam. She is also a champion in the gym where she has received more than 14 medals in her competitive gymnastics career and hopes to one day go to the Olympics. Last year Maya missed her first day of school in 6 years to see the 44th Inauguration of President Barack Obama.

Himani Sharma, a 12th grade honor student from Hart High School. Himani is known to come to school with a positive energy that she brings into the classroom every day and is an extremely focused and responsible student. Himani is a three year member of the tennis team, Vice President of the Cross country Club, a member of the Future Business Leaders of America and the District Chair for the Santa Clarita Valley Red Cross.

Matt Howard, a 10th grade World History teacher and the Varsity Head Football Coach at Paramount High School. Coach Howard is known to make sure his student’s needs are being met on a daily basis, and for him, this means personalizing lessons and instructions for different students. He is described as a team player who always works with other teachers to continue to improve his student’s benchmark scores. As the Head Football Coach his team has won back to back co-league championships while playing with great character and sportsmanship.

Sheila Edwards, an 8th grade Pre AP history teacher at Sierra Vista Middle School. Edwards is chairmen of the history department, and has won countless awards including the Renaissance teacher of the year, NBC’s Crystal Apple Award, Presidential Service Award, and the John Hopkins’s teach of the Year award. Edwards is also a pillar in the community where she spearheaded a program called “Make A Difference”. “Make A Difference” encourages kids to go out in their community and find ways to make Los Angeles a better place.

Heather Shotke, a 7th grade English Language Arts teacher at Muscatel Middle School. Shotke, a graduate of the USC Annenberg School of Communication is known for making her classes fun and interesting while always setting a great example for her students. Described as a team player, Shotke stepped up to teach an intensive reading intervention class for her school’s English language learners. Her innovative and creative techniques inspired her to launch a nationwide challenge called gramMarch designed to challenge America to slow down and double check their grammar throughout the month of March.

Each Student and Educator of the Month winner was invited to the home game on March 30th, 2014 vs. the Phoenix Suns. They were honored during a halftime presentation where they received a plaque and a Lakers Student and Educator of the Month t-shirt. The nominations for the March Student and Educator of the Month were submitted by principals and teachers of each school based on exemplary teaching efforts, academic achievement or extracurricular activities.

February 2014

The Lakers are proud to announce the February 2014 Student and Educator of the Month winners! This month’s student winners are Jacob Pham, Mia Chang and Ashley Torres. The winning teachers are Tamera Shear and Catalina Saenz. The winning principal is Robert Shock. Each winner demonstrates an outstanding commitment to academia, athletics, and community outreach.

Student Educators of the Month

Jacob Pham, a Kindergartner at Wilkerson Elementary School that comes to school with a smile every day. Jacob is described as a team player that is always ready to learn something new. Jacob has a giving heart and comes to school with a contagious energy every day.

Mia Chang, a 5th grade student from Longden Elementary School who has maintained a 4.0 GPA for two consecutive years. She is a two year member of the Student Council and has won an academic and character award for 9 straight trimesters. Described as always going above and beyond, Mia uses her bilingual abilities to aid struggling Taiwanese and Chinese students with their work.

Ashley Torres, an 8th grade student from Bethune Middle School. She is a straight A student and in the Honors program at her school. Ashley is one of the top readers in the entire school, reading over one million words this year. Described as having a positive attitude and always having a smile, her teachers say Ashley is a joy to have in the classroom.

Tamera Shear, a 9th grade teacher at Animo Watts College Preparatory Academy. Ms. Shear has shattered her school record in benchmark exams this year. Ms. Shear is described as believing in ever student’s potential and having a relentless attitude. Ms. Shear is also committed to teaching her students to live healthy lifestyles and has started her very own running club on campus.

Catalina Saenz, the Computer and Technology teacher at Resurrection Catholic School. Ms. Saenz is described as an amazing colleague that motivates everyone around her. She has created a data driven curriculum that has steadily been increasing student’s achievement. Ms. Saenz spends her free time volunteering in the community, tutoring students of all ages and coaching a little league soccer team.

Robert Shock, the Dean and Boy's Athletic Director at Long Beach Poly High School. As the Athletic Director, Mr. Shock oversees one of the most renowned High School Athletic Programs in the county, responsible for producing over 40 Division 1 college athletes every year. Off the athletic field, he is also the director of Poly's groundbreaking human relations camp "Poly North" that takes 150 sophomores to Big Bear every weekend to teach students to be more culturally aware.

Each Student and Educator of the Month winner was invited to the home game on February 23rd, 2014 vs. the Brooklyn Nets. They were honored during a halftime presentation where they received a plaque and a Lakers Student and Educator of the Month t-shirt. The nominations for the February Student and Educator of the Month were submitted by principals and teachers of each school based on exemplary teaching efforts, academic achievement or extracurricular activities.

January 2014

The Lakers are proud to announce the January 2014 Student and Educator of the Month winners! This month’s student winners are Jeanette Ramirez, Shelsy Moctezuma and Jesus Rosales. The winning teachers are Reta Saul and Tianna Tang-Lau. The winning principal is Dr. Greg Buckner. Each winner demonstrates an outstanding commitment to academia, athletics, and community outreach.

Student Educators of the Month

Jeannette Ramirez, a 4th grade student at New Temple School who is always giving 100% effort in each lesson. Jeannette has straight A’s and is described as having a generous heart and tremendous character. When she grows up she wants to become a teacher and return to New Temple School to work.

Shelsy Moctezuma, a 6th grade student from Wilkerson Elementary School who scored advanced in both her math and language arts State testing. Described as polite, responsible, and respectful she always gives her full attention and effort in class. Shelsy is learning Tae Kwon Do in her spare time but says education will always be her first priority.

Jesus Rosales, a senior at North Hollywood High School who aspires to be a sports broadcaster and for the Los Angeles Lakers. He can be described as a hard worker, computer whiz and someone who is always willing to help others. Jesus dedicates his spare time to helping his community by volunteering for various nonprofit organizations; such as: Make-A-Wish and Toys for Tots.

Reta Sul, Locke High School’s Physical Education teacher. Ms. Sula’s influence over her students does not end at physical education, she also makes sure her students are reading, writing, and discussing topics to help them grow as good citizens. Doubling as the school’s athletic director, Sula oversees several afterschool teams and programs, including the school’s safe and civil team that ensures the school is not only safe but has lots of school spirit!

Tianna Tang-Lau, a third grade teacher from Wilkerson Elementary School. On last year’s state testing 90% of Lau’s students scored proficient or advanced proficient in math. Not only was this the fourth consecutive year that Lau’s students performed above the State average, but they also had the highest test scores of any 3rd grade class in the El Monte City School District. Lau always goes the extra mile for her students.

Dr. Greg Buckner, the principal of Paramount High School. Dr. Buckner oversees a campus of 3,700 students and strives to make a positive difference every single day in their lives. Dr. Buckner has increased his school’s API scores every single year since becoming principal. Known to spend his free time enriching the community, Dr. Buckner leads various school initiatives that are always focused on increasing student achievement.

Each Student and Educator of the Month winner was invited to the home game on January 31st, 2014 vs. Charlotte Bobcats. They were honored during a halftime presentation where they received a plaque and a Lakers Student and Educator of the Month t-shirt. The nominations for the January Student and Educator of the Month were submitted by principals and teachers of each school based on exemplary teaching efforts, academic achievement or extracurricular activities.

December 2013

The Lakers are proud to announce the December 2013 Student and Educator of the Month winners! This month’s student winners are Jacob, Saberm, Kassandra Salloum and Gisselle Quezada. The winning teachers are James Gallardo and Kelly Suzanne Priestly. The winning principal is Luis F. Montoya. Each winner demonstrates an outstanding commitment to academia, athletics, and community outreach.

Student Educators of the Month

Jacob Saberm, a 5th grade student at Kingsley Elementary School. Jacob has shown remarkable improvement in all academic areas. After struggling in math last year math is now Jacob’s strongest subject. Jacob does not only work to improve his own math scores, he also spends his lunch time tutoring other students who need some extra help in math. Over the past six months Jacob has become a model student for all his classmates.

Kassandra Salloum, a 6th grade student at Village Elementary School. Kassandra has perfect attendance and in just two months her reading level has grown over 100 points due to her hard work. At four feet tall Kassandra has also made her middle school basketball team for the second year in a row. Known to work on her conditioning in her own time, coaches describe her as playing every minute as if it was the final second of a championship game.

Gisselle Quezada, an 8th grade student from Samuel Gompers Middle School. Gisselle has a 4.0 GPA and perfect attendance. She has made great strides in the classroom and is now performing above the school average in honor classes. In her spare time Gisselle works with autistic students on campus to bridge the gap between students with disabilities and the general education population.

James Gallardo, a physics teacher at La Mirada High School. Since Mr. Gallardo joined the staff he has developed a calculus based AP Physics course, a new curriculum called Project Lead the Way as well as a new engineering course. As a mentor to the school’s Rocketry club, he took a group of 10 students to the Team America Rocketry Challenge in Virginia to compete in a national competition.

Kelly Suzanne Pristley, Special Education Department Chair for Temple City High School. Ms. Pristley’s tireless work ethic, daily enthusiasm, and effective communication skills have helped establish a groundbreaking special education transitional program. The program allows special needs students to continue their education at Pasadena City College which has not only been monumental for students, but also for their parents. Priestly also finds time in her schedule to mentor younger special education teachers.

Luis F. Montoya, the principal of Florence Avenue Elementary School. Mr. Montoya has taken an academically struggling Elementary school and has turned it into an efficient functioning honor school in less than 5 years. He can be described as a principal that leads by example and is a mentor for 6 new principals in the South Los Angeles area. You will find Mr. Montoya on the soccer field after school playing with the children.

Each Student and Educator of the Month winner was invited to the home game on December 29th vs. the Philadelphia 76ers. They were honored during a halftime presentation where they received a plaque and a Lakers Student and Educator of the Month t-shirt. The nominations for the December Student and Educator of the Month were submitted by principals and teachers of each school based on exemplary teaching efforts, academic achievement or extracurricular activities.

November 2013

The Lakers are proud to announce the November 2013 Student and Educator of the Month winners! This month’s student winners are Miracle Nation and Chidera Oti. The winning teachers are Jaime Urbina and Brittany Dotson. The winning principal is Dr. Lillian Price. Each winner demonstrates an outstanding commitment to academia, athletics, and community outreach.

2013-14 Student and Educator of the Month - November

Dr. Lillian Prince, the principal at Cleminson Elementary School. Dr. Prince has been an educator for the El Monte Unified School District for the past 58 years. She has received the “Gold” Medal from the nationally recognized alliance for a healthier generation. Dr. Prince is described by her peers as intelligent, dedicated, talented, and strong.

Jaime Urbin, the guidance counselor for Yorkdale Elementary School. Mr. Urbina is not only an educator, but a coach, philanthropist, mentor, and motivator for the children of his community. He believes in teaching children the importance of working hard to become winners both in the classroom and in life.

Brittany Dotson, a 10th grade Language Arts teacher at Paramount High School. Ms. Dotson’s efforts have resulted in huge improvements in her student’s classroom grades and benchmark exams. She is the club advisor to the African-American culture club and is described as a model mentor who is always willing to sacrifice her time to be there for her students.

Miracle Nation, a first grade student at YES Academy Elementary. Miracle was given her name when she beat the odds to make it in to this world. Due to her resilience and her refusal to never give up Miracle has made huge strides in her academic skills upon mourning the recent loss of her mother. Her teachers describe her as star classroom citizen!

Chidera Oti, a 5th grade student from Purche Ave. Elementary Science and Technology Magnet School. Chidera is the 5th grade student council president where he excels in the classroom achieving advanced status on his California Standardized Tests, and remaining enrolled in the gifted and talented student classes.

Each Student and Educator of the Month winner was invited to the home game on November 22nd vs. the Golden State Warriors. They were honored during a halftime presentation where they received a plaque and a Lakers Student and Educator of the Month t-shirt. The nominations for the November Student and Educator of the Month were submitted by principals and teachers of each school based on exemplary teaching efforts, academic achievement or extracurricular activities.

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