Teachers exemplify lessons in optimism

September 29, 2007

Congratulations to Burbank vocal music teacher Christine DeMore and Glendale teacher Mark Ouweleen, who were honored as two of Los Angeles County’s 16 top educators.

They were chosen from a pool of 64 nominees, who are the creme de le creme of their respective school districts. And it’s not hard to see why.

At a time when children are faced with myriad distractions, these top teachers have shown a knack for keeping children engaged and interested.


DeMore, for instance, started her teaching career wanting to prove that, simply put, students can do excellent work.

And is she ever proving it.

Her Jordan Middle School choral groups consistently win top awards. And her top teacher award only affirms her work.

Ouweleen also brings an energy that reflects in his Columbus Elementary School students’ work.

His sixth-graders are rapidly improving their Academic Performance Index scores, and in the process — county officials pointed out last week — he is helping to close the achievement gap that is plaguing schools across the state.

In both cases, these educators are giving us a lesson in how lucky local students and their parents are to have these teachers.

The other lesson is the proof that teachers like DeMore are offering every day in local classrooms: that there is hope for students, their families and these communities.

These students will one day go on to be mechanics, entertainers, lawyers, doctors, politicians and perhaps teachers themselves. And in that sense, the benefits from DeMore and Ouweleen will extend long beyond when the youngsters they are now teaching graduate.

DeMore tries to create “artistry” with her students, bringing with her a previous career as a singer and vocal coach. Ouweleen brings an enthusiasm colored with his gift of telling stories to keep his students into learning.

In a world full of distractions, these teachers have tapped into ways to transcend it all and get into students’ minds.

We thank them for this, and thank all the area’s teachers for the work they do. They should keep doing it, and keep making school interesting for students — a place where no matter what, it’s not all about testing, and where the classroom can be just as engaging as anything outside of it.

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