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Five of Pasadena Unified’s Top Teachers Honored for Excellence by the Pasadena Rotary Club

Published on Thursday, May 19, 2016 | 5:25 am


Teacher Natalie Palma Field addresses Mayor Terry Tornek (left) and the Rotary Club of Pasadena during the Teachers of Excellence Awards Ceremony


Five of Pasadena Unified School District’s teachers were honored at a luncheon Wednesday in recognition of their personal impact and and exemplary teaching practices at various schools in the District.

Hosted by the Rotary Club of Pasadena, the 26th annual Teachers of Excellence Award Program highlighted individual teachers who embody excellence.

“Today’s about three things: reward, recognition and respect,” said Teachers of Excellence Co-Chair Shel Capeloto. “It’s about the magic these teachers work everyday.”

This magic that Capeloto referred to is a common element that seems to come naturally to these teachers. The 2016 teacher awardees were Consuelo Galvez from Marshall Fundamental, Natalie Palma from Field Elementary School, Laura Palmer from Sierra Madre Elementary, Beth Strehl from McKinley School and Sarah Thalmann from Marshall Fundamental.

According to the Pasadena Rotary Club, the program’s genesis was the product of hard work and dedication on the part of Pasadena Rotary’s honored members. They were inspired by the story of Jaime Escalante, the charismatic former East Los Angeles high school teacher who taught the nation that inner-city students could master subjects as demanding as calculus.

With funding from the Pasadena Rotary Foundation, the club’s budget, and contributions from individual members, the teachers were each awarded $1,500 as well as an additional $500 for their school. As one would expect, the energy in the room was full of happy tears and plentiful smiles that reflected the nurturing qualities the teachers are known for.

“It’s simple. We can’t have great students without great teachers,” said Mayor Terry Tornek.

Screenings of brief video profile pieces showed the teachers in their natural elements in the classroom with their students. The video presentations served as an insider’s look for guests to witness the spectrum of passion and dedication the teachers have for their job and also the mutual respect their students have for them, too.

“My students mean a lot to me and I hope I mean a lot to them,” said Laura Palmer as she accepted her award.

Similarly, the teachers emphasized the importance of cultivating a bond with their students to ensure success down the line.

“I get a lot of gratification seeing my students grow throughout the year,” said Beth Strehl.

While all teachers are heroes that help shape the minds of our youth, the Teachers of Excellence Awards is a way in which these behind the scenes educational figures have a chance to be up front for the community to admire.

“We are very proud of what we have accomplished as a school district and the teachers that are a part of it,” said Brian McDonald, Superintendent of Schools.

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