The Escondido Union High School District (EUHSD) is pleased to announce the 2018 Teachers of the Year. These teachers are extraordinary educators and are deeply committed, hard-working, passionate and supportive to their students and our district. Their work and leadership in the classroom is key for our students’ successful path in life. We acknowledge their efforts to make our district a brilliant environment. Their uniqueness is what makes our community shine.
(Escondido High School)
Districtwide Teacher of the Year
John Williamson earned a Bachelor of Science in Exercise and Nutritional Science from San Diego State University. He earned his secondary Physical Education credential with a supplemental authorization in Mathematics from Chapman University and earned his Master Degree in Education from Grand Canyon University.
John has been an educator in Mathematics at Escondido High School for 24 years. It is evident that John is committed to the students’ learning and their success within the classroom. John started using computer-based programs in Mathematics (New Century) in 1997. John launched the Plato Online learning program to the Math department in 2008. John also was active in developing online learning in conjunction with direct instruction (combo classes). In 2012, he was instrumental in Escondido High School the development of the Math 180 program. In 2015, school objectives and district goals changed to using Common Core Math. John was among the first team to participate in Math Studio training which introduced Common Core Math 1 to students at EHS. He continues to participate in Math Studio and is presently the Math 1 PLC Lead. He has shown extraordinary leadership as the Math 1 PLC Lead. He has helped the team grow into one where the teachers plan together, discuss assessments, and model lessons for each other.
In an interview by EHS newscast, EHS students respectfully introduced him as “the man, the myth, the legend”. John is an extraordinarily kind and humble man and well respected by students and staff members at Escondido High School. John is affectionately nicknamed “Coach Willi” for great reasons. John is committed to student learning and success on the field: a football coach at EHS for 24 years earning CIF runner-up 1995 and 2007 awards; a basketball coach for 22 years earning EHS three CIF Titles in 2003, 2004, and 2015; a golf coach for 14 years; a baseball coach for 10 years; track coach for 1 year and girls tennis coach for 1 year.
Coach Willi is a man you can count on to make sure students have a great experience here at EHS. He has been the Senior Class Advisor for 24 years. He has organized the chalking of the “E” for 24 years. There is no doubt that John is competitive as he was the canned food drive champion 11 times with a personal record of 8,420 cans for 2017. When John is asked what he would like for his birthday or Christmas as a gift, his response is always cans of food for the food drive. He was the Pasta for Pennies champion in 2010.
On the personal side, John met his wife Sara at EHS. Sara was the Athletic Trainer and Health teacher. They have a daughter, Hannah, who is 12 and a son, Easton, who is 11. Coach Willi is an extraordinary man that will always be there when the school or community is in need. He volunteered during the fires when EHS was an evacuation site. John always goes above and beyond. Coach Willi is a great advocate for our students, our staff members, and our community. For these reasons, John Williamson “Coach Willi” is nominated as Teacher of the Year for Escondido High School.
(Escondido Adult School)
For over 20 years, Ms. Margaret “Marge” McDonnell has been an instructor at the Escondido Adult School in the Adult Basic Education and High School Equivalency programs. During that time, literally hundreds of students have received the benefit of Ms. McDonnell’s commitment and dedication on their behalf. Indeed, the most striking quality of Ms. McDonnell is her absolute commitment and advocacy on behalf of her students to ensure that they have the instructional resources they need to be successful in school in order to have a better life. This has manifested itself over the years by her commitment to her own personal growth and professional development. She has always been willing to seek out and explore new instructional software, technology, programs and approaches that will better serve her students. She also actively seeks outside resources in the community that she can bring to enrich her classroom.
Marge McDonnell has a strong commitment to professional development. She participates frequently in webinars, attends conferences, and always fully contributes to departmental meetings. She interacts informally with other members of the department to discuss new ideas and the latest developments. Marge McDonnell is a “trooper” in the best sense of the word in that she demonstrates to her students a strength and tenacity that serves them well in standing Margaret McDonnell firm and overcoming the inevitable adversities of life.
(Escondido Adult School)
Michelle Hammack has been with EUHSD for 11 years. She began her career at OGHS by teaching one section of Dance and four sections of Math. She participated in Math for America Scholarship as a Master Teacher for 4 years. Ms. Hammack is a multi-talented educator who has created extremely effective learning communities in all of her classrooms. She has worked as an AVID teacher, a Math teacher, and as a Dance instructor at OGHS and has employed the appropriate instructional techniques in each realm to elevate her students’ interpersonal skills and their self esteem. In addition, she has consistently demonstrated a mastery of the skills and dispositions needed to ensure her students learn at high levels. Students who need additional academic or socio/emotional support know that they can count on Ms. Hammack to help them through their difficulties. Regardless of the level of background knowledge they have when they enter her class, Ms. Hammack provides the instruction and feedback each student needs to reach mastery.
Anyone who has attended the Spring Dance Showcase at the CCAE knows how extraordinary our dance program is because of Ms. Hammack. The culmination of a year’s worth of work and countless hours of practice becomes a transcendent two hours of pure joy.
(Del Lago Academy)
Karin Helenschmidt has been instrumental in working alongside her colleagues in the Humanities department in support of Content Literacy, strategies designed to improve the reading, writing, speaking/listening skills of scholars. A key component to the overall success at Del Lago is the shaping of the school’s culture and spirit. Karin’s support of the extracurricular programs at DLA has truly helped to shape the growing school culture. As a new school, building a school’s community identity takes a relentless passion to the mission and values. Through her work as an Advisory teacher, Karin works alongside scholars to uphold the school’s Pillars, Mission, and Vision.
As a grade 12 teacher, Karin works with her colleagues to provide monthly events to seniors that help create a sense of unity and build comradery. This is in addition to her regularly scheduled after-school tutoring sessions, where she offers individual and group Karin HelenschmidtDel Lago Academy support in order to achieve learning targets. As an educator, Karin is deeply committed to a rigorous standards based program. She was a founding member of the school’s planning team, and helped to solidify the school’s commitment to the No Mark policy and the Never Too Late to Learn Pillar.
(San Pasqual High School)
Kristy Jurgensen is a product of EUHSD, having graduated from Orange Glen High School. She has demonstrated her skills in the social science department at San Pasqual High School by teaching every level of class: sheltered, college prep, and Advanced Placement. Kristy regularly assists teachers in the administration of common assessments and PSAT. Further, she is involved in training teachers on programs such as Illuminate. In addition to classroom duties and site duties, Kristy coaches Varsity Girls Swim in the spring.
Kristy encourages life-long learning for teachers through her demonstration of being one herself. She has spoken at faculty meetings and led small groups of teachers in professional development on programs such as Illuminate. She participates in the community through her coaching as a swim coach. Kristy truly loves teaching. Her classroom is neatly organized and although she has the challenge of being in a room that used to be a ‘teacher work room’, she makes the best of it by arranging the tables collaboratively. The groupings of students keep them engaged and provides the students with multiple opportunities to practice their speaking and listening skills. Kristy relates well with her students because she truly likes them and believes every student has the ability to learn.