The Mountain View Los Altos Union High School District named Leo Florendo of Freestyle Academy of Communication Arts & Technology its 2015 Teacher of the Year.
Florendo is scheduled to be honored at the annual Santa Clara County Office of Education’s Teacher Recognition Celebration Oct. 1 at the Heritage Theatre in Campbell.
Florendo is program coordinator and WebAudio instructor at Freestyle, an alternative program for juniors and seniors in the MVLA district. In 2006, he and three Freestyle staff members established and developed an integrated and technology-leveraged project-based curriculum that challenges students in a nontraditional method to combine their creativity with modern technology to produce digital media productions including websites, podcasts, blogs and digital and acoustic music productions.
A teacher at Freestyle since its inception in 2006 and program coordinator since 2011, Florendo also serves as system administrator and webmaster, managing the school’s 70 computers and servers.
“Leo Florendo is the consummate teacher,” said Superintendent Barry Groves. “He is knowledgeable, a tireless teacher and a student advocate. He challenges students to expand their creativity and thinking. He is the embodiment of what we are trying to do at Freestyle.”
A group of Florendo’s peers nominated him for Teacher of the Year.
“I am honored to be the MVLA Teacher of the Year because there are so many amazing teachers in MVLA that are also deserving of this award,” Florendo said.
According to Florendo’s teaching philosophy, students should be exposed to myriad ways to communicate ideas while still relatively young. Switching among four or more technology applications in his class is normal, he said, and he aims to leverage the fact that this generation’s high-schoolers are “digital natives” adept at multitasking.
If the goal is to encourage students to make better life decisions post-high school, Florendo said, then exposing them to meaningful experiences via communicating through various media should help. Florendo invites students in his classes to open many doors as they seek to get their messages seen or heard beyond the classroom, noting that students are then prepared to open doors as they navigate their futures.
For more information on Freestyle and to see examples of students’ work, visit freestyleacademy.rocks.