Today, the Orange County Department of Education is announcing the county’s five Teachers of the Year for 2016. In the next few posts, we’ll be sharing information about the winners and the qualities that make each a great teacher.
Let’s begin with Lisa Moloney, a second-grade teacher at Perry Elementary School in the Huntington Beach City School District. This was the first stop for the “prize patrol” caravan of OCDE officials, media and sponsors.
Shortly after 8:20 a.m., a throng of visitors entered Room 12 at Perry Elementary School. Dr. Al Mijares, Orange County superintendent of schools, led the way and congratulated Mrs. Lisa Moloney as an Orange County Teacher of the Year.
Disney representatives followed, presenting a prize package with park passes and merchandise. SchoolsFirst Federal Credit Union handed out a $500 check along with a lunch bag and pen set. Also on hand were Huntington Beach City School District Superintendent Gregory Haulk and Perry Elementary Principal Renee Polk.
“We have more than 20,000 teachers in this county, and she is being recognized as one of the five finalists, so this is an amazing accomplishment,” Dr. Mijares told her students.
“Wow, this is overwhelming. Thank you so much,” Ms. Moloney said. “What a way to celebrate 22 years of teaching.”
In those 22 years Lisa Moloney has honed her gift for reaching students who are at-risk, have special needs or who are limited in their English proficiency. She has described herself as the “Statue of Liberty of educators,” proclaiming, “Give me the ones who have just arrived to this country, hate school, the ones who nobody can figure out. I will love and respect them and gain their trust.”
Mrs. Moloney consciously works to make her classroom a safe place for students, where her No. 1 rule is “No stress.” By creating a warm and inviting environment in her classroom, students are able to flourish and have fun while learning.
When students do need to be redirected, she employs sign language to give visual support while protecting their privacy. It’s another way in which she expresses her respect and love for the young scholars in her charge.
She describes her personal view of teaching this way: “Every child deserves the opportunity to learn, can learn and should be cherished as they evolve.”