The Mountain View Los Altos Union High School District named Mountain View High School instructor Jim McGuirk Teacher of the Year.
During his 23 years at the high school, McGuirk has been a math teacher, Math Department Coordinator, new teacher mentor, Athletic Director and head coach of the Boys Varsity Soccer and Golf teams.
McGuirk consistently accepts the most challenging assignments: from assisting students struggling to pass the Exit Exam to teaching the highest level of calculus, according to Superintendent Barry Groves. In the spring, he conducts afternoon and weekend review sessions to help math students prepare for their Advanced Placement (AP) exams.
Groves said as a coach, McGuirk devotes countless hours to the athletes and has led the Boys Varsity Soccer team to three consecutive league titles and Central Coast Section (CCS) playoff appearances.
“There is no one more committed to Mountain View High School (MVHS) than Jim,” Groves said. His ability to connect with his students matches his knowledge in all areas of math. “His teaching style is warm, personable and engaging.”
To help his AP Statistics students better understand probability, he challenges them to use real-world applications and test their skills by calculating the odds of winning at Las Vegas games, such as Blackjack, Roulette and Poker.
In his Calculus BC-AP class, his students learn to defrost a Thanksgiving turkey using differential equations and Newton’s Law of Cooling.
With his teaching partners in Algebra II Honors, McGuirk used the professional development activities and developed Common Formative Assessments that tailor instructions to students’ needs.
“One of the most remarkable things about Jim is his innate ability to assess and respond to each individual student’s needs,” Grove said and provided a concrete example.
One of McGuirk’s AP Statistics students was struggling last year. Initially she wanted to drop the class, but Jim convinced her to stay and offered assistance. She earned a C in the class and a passing grade on the AP exam, which testifies not only to McGuirk’s dedication to his students, but also her respect for McGuirk. She went beyond what she thought were her limits because she trusted McGuirk, Groves said.
As an Awalt (now Mountain View High School) graduate and a career teacher/coach, McGuirk has spent most of his life working with the school.
This year, McGuirk coached the MVHS Varsity Boys Soccer team to its third consecutive league championship and its first CCS Championship appearance. He is also tackling a new challenge by coaching the Varsity Golf team.
Groves said the best representation of McGuirk’s dedication to Mountain View High is the fact that so many former students and athletes have chosen careers in education, teaching and coaching.
This year, he mentored two former students earning their math teaching credentials. Many of his former players have returned to coach in the soccer program.
“Jim McGuirk is not only an outstanding teacher inside of the classroom, but outside of the classroom as well,” Groves said. “He is, without question, deserving of the honor of Teacher of the Year.”