SAN FRANCISCO—The California League of Middle Schools honored Grace Andonian, Principal of Krouzian-Zekarian-Vasbouragan Armenian School with the “Educator of the Year” award for her dedication to middle school education, at a dinner held on Wednesday, Jan. 7, at St. Mary’s College in Moraga, California.
The CLMS “Educator of the Year” award is given annually to educators, representing regions throughout California, who exemplify educational excellence and have made significant efforts to implement elements of educational reform in middle schools. Nine finalists from the Bay Area region were honored. The nominee selected to represent each region will subsequently be honored at the CLMS Annual Conference. One of these finalists was selected to represent the region at a conference in Sacramento. Moreover, nominees were requested to speak about their “Experience of Teaching” in their presentation during the dinner.
“The Educator of the Year” award demonstrates respect for the teaching profession and recognizes excellence in education. These educators go above and beyond to help all children achieve. They bring the joy of learning to their schools and classrooms,” said Peter Murphy, Executive Director of California League of Middle Schools. “The success of our students depends on great teachers and principals who create personal relationships, connect with families, and share their passion for lifelong learning”.
Grace Andonian, who was selected for her ability to inspire students’ love of learning, instructional innovation and leadership, and commitment to community involvement, began her teaching career while still a student at the American University of Beirut. She taught 9th grade science at Hamazkayin Nishan Palandjian Jemaran.
“It is a great honor to be amongst such talented and accomplished educators, such as the other nominees tonight”, said Andonian in her speech. “Each teacher can recount numerous highs and lows in their teaching career. Personally, I experienced many great moments while teaching. There were days when I ended so happy and enthusiastic that I knew I had selected the right profession”.
Andonian talked about what inspired her to become a teacher. “The year is 1915… Imagine thousands of men, women, children, and elderly people walking barefoot, driven through the mountains and deserts without food, drink or shelter, deported from their homeland… Imagine a mother, trying to teach her child the Armenian alphabet, the letters of her language, by drawing them on the sand… These are the stories that my grandmother, who survived the first genocide of the century, told us over and over again and which are engraved in my mind.”
In 1986, Andonian moved to Southern California where she became actively involved with the Armenian community and taught at Mesrobian Armenian School for six years before moving to Northern California and teaching math and science at KZV Armenian School. “I feel very fortunate to have been a teacher – to have had the opportunity to empower students, to open their eyes to a whole new world and to make a difference” continued Andonian. “The year 2015 is historic and symbolic. It is a cornerstone for our people as we prepare to commemorate the centennial of the Armenian Genocide. Like many of our grandparents, who hundred years ago taught the alphabet to their children by drawing on the sand, we continue teaching our next generation the rich history of Armenia by weaving diversity into their lives. Working with families has been an important step in helping children understand and value their rich and beautiful culture.”