The annual Teacher Who Cares Award was established by the EastLake Educational Foundation (EEF) in 1998 to recognize and celebrate the teachers who the STUDENTS identify as having made a profound, positive effect on them based on the following criteria:
- Pursues Excellence: Holds students accountable to the highest standard both scholastically and personally.
- Personal Involvement: Knows and cares about each of his/her students
- Contagious Enthusiasm: Effectively shares his/her love of the subject matter being taught and of education in general.
- Appreciation: Makes students feel valued and respected
We asked the senior students to nominate a teacher who is currently teaching at one of the EastLake schools: EastLake High, EastLake Middle, EastLake Elementary, Arroyo Vista Charter School, Salt Creek Elementary, and Olympic View Elementary. The winner then receives a $1,000 reward from EEF.
This year’s winner, Mrs. Mariana Hughes, was a standout with more than 20 nominations from past/current students that clearly stated many of the same qualities about this wonderful teacher.
Mariana Hughes has been teaching English at Eastlake High School since April 2000. Prior to her assignment at Eastlake, she worked as a resource teacher at an elementary school and taught kindergarten and first grade for five years. Her early work in elementary education has been a strong foundation in her work to help students understand that reading and writing strategies can be taught and learned. She constantly works to debunk the myth that students either are or aren’t good readers and writers.
For the past several years, Mrs. Hughes has taught twelfth grade AP Language and Composition and really enjoys all of the challenges that come with senior year. Preparing students for college applications in the fall, and preparing students all year long for the AP test, and writing and reading beyond high school, are high priorities in her daily work with students. At the end of every year, her students share a tradition that has come to be known as “Cupcake Day”. On the day of the AP test, students arrive a little early and enjoy cupcakes and cookies to celebrate their hard work and get motivated for this rigorous assessment.
Mrs. Hughes is proud to be a Titan and enjoys being a part of such an energetic learning community. She hopes that as students leave her class that they have left her class room with a greater appreciation of the power of language and the awareness that effective reading and writing are key assets for life.
Here is just one example of more than 20 nominations that we received for Mrs. Hughes:
“To me, teachers are a distinct human species. I do not expect them to genuinely care about me or help me more than they are contractually obligated to. The name Mrs. Hughes was and still is famous among seniors. From what I heard, as a junior, she was a sweetheart, a good instructor and a compassionate human being altogether. Little did I know she is all the things people say of her and much more. Not only have I seen improvements in class because of her professionalism + good work ethic, I have also been motivated more than ever before to pursue my dream of becoming a journalist. Her background as a kindergarten teacher sometimes made me wary about how genuine her enthusiasm was for our success on the day of the test. But time and time again, she proves to me how emotionally invested she is in her job and in her students’ lives—something she has no obligation to comply with. Every instructor should strive to be like Mrs. Hughes! A kind and giving individual but most importantly, a person and instructor that made a difference in my life because of how much she truly cares.” –D.C.