Seventeen teachers from local school districts were honored Feb. 6, by the Los Altos Rotary Club as the most respected and best teachers in the Los Altos school systems.
"It is almost impossible to pick one teacher among the many without offending other excellent teachers," said Dick Henning, a member of the Teacher Recognition Committee. "So, with the help of district school superintendents, the teachers selected for the award are those with talent and are teachers that help teachers."
In the mentor program, instructors are chosen by the administration for outstanding teaching skills. Mentor teachers are based on the number of teachers in a district. In the Los Altos School District, 37 new teachers were hired by the district and each entered into a class where a teacher was teaching a teacher.
"When you get a bunch of teachers in a room, they want ideas," said Tracy Dowd, a Santa Rita School mentor teacher. "We try to help new teachers as an overview to be helpful."
Don Phillips, superintendent of the Mountain View-Los Altos Union High School District, said mentors work on a variety of projects, and their efforts make a noticeable difference at the schools.
Matt Neely, Mountain View High School mentor, said the elementary schools have prepared students well for the next level.
"Teachers tend to work alone, but in Los Altos, teachers teach teachers to improve our programs," Neely said. "The biggest problem in our area is attrition of teachers because of the high cost of living in the area. Teachers leave for Idaho or go to work for a large Silicon Valley corporation because of economics.
"It is interesting to find out what it takes to be a teacher, to live here and stay in teaching. The mentor program provides a meaningful relationship for teachers to adjust to the area and enjoy teaching," Neely said.
Each of the 17 teachers received a Rotary plaque and two tickets for next year's complete Celebrity Forum presentations.
Teachers receiving awards are:
Mountain View-Los Altos Union High School District: Ailene Genoff, adult program; Carol Gontang, Sally Mearns, Matt Neely, Mountain View High School, Joanne Miyahara, Bob Randall, Mark Shaull, Los Altos High School and Paula McAvoy in the alternative education program.
Los Altos Elementary School District: Jeff Allyn, Shannon McLaughlin, Egan Junior High; Jennifer Bell, Nisa Leone, Almond School; Marron Honigman, Blach Junior High School; Roberta Pyne, Oak School; Tracy Dowd, Santa Rita School; Lela Hunter, Springer School; and Mona Teigen, district office.