Pasadena Rotary Presents the 25th Annual Teachers of Excellence Awards to Pasadena Unified Educators

L to R: Kristyn Webster, Armenui Manasarian, Russell Wong, PUSD Superintendent Dr. Brian McDonald, Arlene Robles-Fernandez and Jennifer Boynton

The Rotary Club of Pasadena honored five Pasadena Unified School District (PUSD) educators as “Teachers of Excellence” during their 25th annual ceremony that honors teachers who excel in their profession. This year’s honorees were: Jennifer Boynton, Franklin Elementary School; Armenui Manasarian, Washington STEAM Magnet Academy; Arlene Robles-Fernandez, Norma Coombs Alternative School; Kristyn Webster, Hamilton Elementary School; and Russell Wong, Blair High School.

“These teachers are being honored because they want to provide their students with the best learning opportunities possible and as a former teacher, I understand that desire to go the extra mile to serve your students,” said PUSD Superintendent Brian McDonald. “While there is no doubt that these teachers are phenomenal, they are just the tip of the iceberg of what wonderful work is happening in our classrooms on a daily basis.”

With funding from the Pasadena Rotary Foundation, awards of $1500 are given each year to five PUSD teachers. $500 is also presented to each recipient’s school and all levels of the public school system are represented. This year’s Teachers of Excellence recipients have distinguished themselves as teachers who engage students in learning, create an exciting classroom environment, and have a positive impact on the future of PUSD students.

“The goal of our program is to foster and encourage excellence in teaching and dedication to education in the Pasadena Unified School District,” said Julia Shih, 2015 Rotary Teachers of Excellence Committee Chair. “Pasadena Rotary wishes to demonstrate in a concrete way that the community cares about the quality of public schools by conducting a competition to select those exceptional teachers that deserve special recognition.”

In addition to being named a PUSD Teacher of Excellence, Russell Wong will be PUSD’s submission for the Los Angeles County Teacher of the Year competition. A video about each of the honorees was produced by KLRN Pasadena, PUSD’s television station. To see the videos about the 2015 Teachers of Excellence, please visit


Jennifer Boynton, Franklin Elementary School
Jennifer Boynton has been a teacher for 25 years, 18 of which has been with PUSD and is currently a kindergarten teacher at Franklin Elementary School. Jennifer developed the district’s current kindergarten math program and is a mentor to new kindergarten teachers. Recently, Jennifer organized 100 student and parent volunteers to paint the school’s kindergarten playground. Four large murals were painted, changing the world for the school’s kindergarten students. It was always Jennifer’s dream to tackle this project and this year she was finally able to see her vision to completion.

Armenui Manasarian, Washington STEAM Magnet Academy
Armenui Manasarian is in her fifth year teaching at Washington STEAM Magnet Academy and has been teaching for 11 years overall. She has taught both elementary and middle school and currently teaches seventh grade English language arts (ELA), history and AVID (Advancement Via Individual Determination). She was a member of the district’s curriculum revision workshop team who created lessons for common core implementation and has led multiple professional development sessions as well as serving as an ELA coach and a common core lead teacher.

Arlene Robles-Fernandez, Norma Coombs Elementary School
Arlene Robles-Fernandez grew up in Pasadena and is a proud product of PUSD schools having graduated from Pasadena High School. Arlene always knew she would be a teacher and has taught in PUSD for the last ten years. Arlene’s goal each school year is to recognize what works best for each student and try to help her kids harness their potential to become successful learners.

Kristyn Webster, Hamilton Elementary School
Kristyn Webster has been an educator for 18 years and with PUSD for 15 years where she currently teaches fourth grade at Hamilton Elementary School. Kristyn believes that when students feel they are cared for, she is able to stretch their learning even further. No matter how strong her teaching abilities are, she knows that for true learning to take place she must first develop positive relationships with her students. Kristyn provides a safe, respectful and kind environment where academic risks can occur and learning flourishes. She takes inspiration from the late educator and U.S. Senator who said “I saw as a teacher how, if you take that spark of learning that those children have, and you ignite it, you can take a child from any background to a lifetime of creativity and accomplishment.”

Russell Wong, Blair High School
Russell Wong has taught 10th grade world history, 11th grade U.S. History and 12th grade U.S. government and economics for the last five years at Blair High School primarily in the Blair Health Careers Academy. Russell first entered into the PUSD family in 2009 as a student teacher at Marshall Fundamental and was later hired on as a long term substitute where he was given a special English “boot camp” course to help boost student’s CST scores in English, achieving the second most improved scores for his group of students out of all the middle and high schools in PUSD. Russell is honored to be part of this year’s Rotary Teachers of Excellence award winners as he accepts the honor for so many that have helped him get to where he is and as he continues to fine tune his craft with the support of the PUSD family.



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