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2009-10 PUSD Teachers of the Year
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Date: March 25, 2009

Poway Unified Announces Its Three District Teachers of the Year
Arlene Gapusan, Kris Hizal, and Amanda Nobles Receive Honors

The Poway Unified School District proudly recognizes our teachers and announces that Arlene Gapusan, Kris Hizal, and Amanda Nobles have been chosen as Poway Unified School District Teachers of the Year for 2009-2010 from a very distinguished list of school site teachers of the year.

A committee of past winners and school administrators selected the three district-level Teachers of the Year.  All the honorees have incorporated exemplary learning programs into their teaching, and are making a positive difference to the students of the Poway Unified School District.

Arlene Gapusan 2009 PUSD Teacher of the YearArlene Gapusan
Eighth Grade Teacher; ASB Advisor
Black Mountain Middle School

Guiding students so they can be successful is at the heart of Arlene Gapusan’s work as an educator.  Creating an environment where students are motivated to learn and can do their very best inspires Arlene to use her energy and enthusiasm to affect the climate of her classes and her school.  She is everywhere; as a teacher who celebrates each success of each individual student, as ASB advisor, and as a builder of partnerships and a sense of community.

Arlene recalls her efforts to reach a reluctant eighth grader: Nick had a dismal GPA, a lengthy behavioral record, and an outright hatred for coming to school.  Determined not to let another student slip through the cracks of our educational system, Arlene approached Nick with a suggestion that made him take notice.  “I traded him six weeks of grammar tutorials for six weeks of break dancing,” said Arlene.  Nick not only showed up at those tutorials - his friends came for the lessons as well.

With a tenacious drive and steely determination, Arlene and Nick worked together to achieve what so many adults thought was impossible.  He passed his grammar exam and went on to do well in high school!  Arlene did not see Nick again until before his graduation from Mt. Carmel High School when he asked her to come to his graduation ceremony and sit with his parents.
“You changed my life,” Nick said.  He is now stationed in Japan, serving our country in his second year in the US Navy.Arlene3

Arlene teaches English Language Learners (ELL) and GATE students as well as classes in the AVID program.  She is constantly differentiating instruction to meet the needs of her students.  She uses non-traditional teaching methods such as singing songs and creating fun activities that help students remember the material they need.

Arlene has created curriculum for college readiness courses that aligns to the school and district vision to create a college-going culture for all students.  She and her students have developed the Fifth Grade Bridge Program where fifth and eighth graders build partnerships using social studies curriculum as the common thread.

In order to meet the varied needs of her students, Arlene develops programs that encourage them to learn.  She has written grants to the Rancho Peñasquitos Council for collecting recyclable cans and to the school site committee to take her classes to the Museum of Tolerance.  Arlene organized the Day of Understanding at Black Mountain where teachers, administrators, and guest speakers come together to promote tolerance throughout the school, providing activities for teachers and securing speakers for the school wide event.  She has led two eighth grade classes to win the championship of San Diego County’s “We the People” Constitution Competition.

Arlene received her Bachelor of Arts degree from San Diego State University and her Master of Arts degree from National University.  She has worked at Black Mountain Middle School since 2001.

Kris Hizal
AP US Government teacher
Mt. Carmel High SchoolKris Hizal 2009 PUSD Teacher of the Year

“Our motto at Mt. Carmel High School is ‘Reach ‘em, Teach ‘em, Let ‘em Soar’.  Those are the words I live by.  Once I establish relationships with students, I can spark their curiosity and they will succeed,” said Kris Hizal.  His greatest achievement happens every time a student enters his classroom saying they dislike history and leave realizing they really enjoy history.  “Their curiosity has been sparked, and once that occurs, results follow.”
Kris’s students have excelled with more than 90% taking AP tests and reaching a pass rate of 86%.  Nationwide that pass rate is 52%.  When Kris taught US History, his students scored among the best in PUSD on the state test (STAR).  “I believe these results are due to the connections I have made with kids.  I have faith in them and they continually reinforce that faith.”

Kris is truly a technology pioneer, at the forefront from day one, continuously incorporates the very best tools to give students options and enhance learning.  Years ago as department chair, Kris helped create a computer lab for the Mt. Carmel social science department by gathering computers which individuals and businesses were discarding.

KrisIn 1999, Kris was asked to create an online course in US History.  Searching for an example from another school, he found none existed.  Kris built that online class from scratch, and it became the first online class that met a graduation requirement.  The course, with its enthusiastic instructor, has stood the test of time, with students excelling on the state STAR test.

Technology has served as the vehicle for Kris to create a course for Advanced Placement (AP) US Government that is always relevant and portable.  All class notes are posted online with links inserted, providing up-to-date examples of the materials being studied.

In addition, Kris records each of his lectures, converting them to MP3s and posting them on the district’s LearningPoint site for students.  When students are absent, the lecture is there.  When it comes time for students to prepare for a test, Kris uses a software program which allows him to record audio over a web page, which students then download onto their iPods.  Students do listen often and on their own time – they are able to drive to school, go to work, and go to sleep at night with Kris’s lectures playing.

Kris is constantly learning.  During his 24 years as an educator, he has used the summer months as an opportunity for professional growth, participating in an Earthwatch expedition in France, attending the Gilder Lehman Institute at Stanford that focused on interpreting the US Constitution, and attending technology training seminars as a participant in the Teach the Teachers program.  Kris received his Bachelor of Arts degree and Master of Arts degree from Queens College, the City University of New York.

Amanda Nobles
Third Grade Teacher
Adobe Bluffs Elementary School

Amanda 2009 PUSD Teacher of the YearThe joy of learning is as much a part of Amanda Nobles’ classroom as Amanda herself.  Her innovations motivate students to learn.  Her focus on standards produces the highest level of academic success.  Amanda’s learning never stops, and neither does that of her students.

Amanda worked in a software company before her career as an educator.  She now incorporates technology and media into classroom instruction.  Every student is an active participant in the lessons.  Utilizing responsive classroom techniques as well as project-based learning, Amanda empowers students to take control of their own learning and achieve academic success.  She creates a shared community of learners.  The students help make the rules and behave because they know it is the right thing to do.

In 2008, her students were 100% proficient in the California Standard Tests.  Her second graders out-performed all the second graders in Poway Unified and in California in both math (+7%) and reading (+10%) in all subcategories.  A first grader who came from Bulgaria and spoke no English was reading at grade level by the end of the year.  Last year, Amanda received a long letter from him about how she influenced him.

On a daily basis, Amanda’s students incorporate technology through video production, webquests, video conferencing, and student-generated PowerPoints and presentations.

This year Amanda is using Vocab VideoCasts to reinforce learning in all subject areas for a diverse group of learners.  Using key terms, students define and illustrate a vocabulary word, take a picture of it, and record it as an audio file.  The students work together to create a videocast of the terms to be learned, which is posted on the classroom website so they can watch it at home and school before the classroom test.  Students are engaged in their learning and are performing better on their tests.Amanda 2

In November, Amanda organized a schoolwide event to honor local veterans.  During Take a Veteran to School Day, retired and active military service people visited each classroom, and answered questions prepared by the students.

In 2008, Amanda has received a Time Warner Cable National Teacher of the Year Award, Honorable Mention in the Inspire category from the Classroom of the Future Innovation Education Awards Program, a SONY Environmental Teaching Grant. She is a 2009 National Finalist for the Cable in the Classroom Leaders in Learning Award (winners will be announced in April).
 Amanda received her Bachelor of Arts degree from Earl Warren College, UCSD, and her Master of Arts degree from National University.  She taught first grade at Rolling Hills Elementary School from 2001-2004 and first, second, and third grades at Adobe Bluffs Elementary School from 2004 to the present.