Student & Educator of the Month: December 2013

Student Educators of the Month

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.

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.