By Seth Eaker
John F. Kennedy, our 35th President, said, “Let us think of education as the means of developing our greatest abilities, because in each of us there is a private hope and dream which, fulfilled, can be translated into benefit for everyone and greater strength for our nation.”
Those words ring true for the Los Alamitos Unified School District (LAUSD). The Seal Beach Lions Club has been producing the “Honor the Teacher” event for 72 years now. It is an opportunity to have each school at every level, elementary, middle and high school through peer evaluation, select an extraordinary teacher each year. In a packed Marina Center, with the LEOs serving and clearing the tables, many teachers were with family and mentors who had changed the lives of so many children.
With a wonderful buffet dinner, the Marina Center transformed into an opportunity for both principals and the honorees to share their stories of mentoring, student experiences and their joy of teaching. A continuing theme of the evening was the idea that the entire LAUSD was a “family.” Many teachers connected to other teachers or administrators as mentors and who “believed in them,” particularly during their journey from less experienced teachers to more.
The recipients were: Mrs. Jeanne Ruiz, Hopkinson Elementary; Mrs. Leslie Avery, Lee Elementary; Mrs. Christi Bagby, Los Alamitos Elementary; Mrs. Cheryl Smith, McGaugh Elementary; Mrs. Amanda Nelson, Rossmoor Elementary; Mrs. Nga Arasato, Weaver Elementary; Ms. Valerie Miller, McAuliffe Middle School; Mrs. Christy Berthon, Oak Middle School; Mrs. Kelly Rofe, Los Alamitos High School; Mrs. Ondrea Reed, Administrator of the Year and Dr. Sherry Kropp, with special recognition for her retirement from the district.
With emotions both jubilant and reflective, the entire LAUSD and the Lions are so very proud of those that make such a difference in our community and ultimately our future. Go ahead and mark your calendars for next year on April 8, 2020, where once again the Seal Beach Lions will Honor the Teacher.
Seth Eaker is the Immediate Past President of the Seal Beach Lions and has co-chaired the event for three years.