By Elena Epstein
We all know the tremendous impact a teacher can have on a child’s life. In Venice, a group of parents and community and business leaders has created an annual tradition celebrating the dedication and passion of the educators in their community.
The 4th Annual WAVE Awards, held May 8 at the Rose Café and Market, brought together 17 local schools and organization for a fun evening of cocktails, dinner and an awards ceremony. This year’s event, organized by the Venice Chamber of Commerce Education Committee and sponsored by Google, recognized outstanding teachers for their “Innovation in the World of Education.”
“We want to bring the focus back to our teachers as innovators in their daily ability to connect with each and every student, nurture curiosity, foster inspiration and create life-long learners,” says Joelle Dumas, chair of the Venice Chamber Education Committee.
Teachers are nominated and selected by their peers and receive a trophy, certificates of recognition from the California State Assembly and a swag bag filled with donations from local businesses.
This year’s ceremony honored 13 educators for their innovations, including Gabriel Alvarez of Mark Twain Middle School, who organizes a weeklong science camp for his students in collaboration with UCLA; and Beethoven Elementary teacher Patricia Argumedo, who won a grant to plant a pollinator garden outside her classroom to teach students about the importance of insects in the environment.
Also honored were preschool teacher Andreanne Breton from Ecole Claire Fontaine for incorporating a love of language, culture and travel into her daily curriculum; Venice Arts’ Michael Jasorka for the popular comics class where he shares his infectious passion for the art of illustration and inspires a love of storytelling in his students; and Cheryl Silver from A Window Between Worlds, who manages a citywide healing arts program for survivors of domestic violence.
WAVE awards also went to Venice Boys & Girls Club elementary program coordinator Nicole Lopez for strengthening the Power Hour homework help, Youth of the Month and SMART Girls programs and creating a character and leadership club for the 6- to 10-year-olds; and Broadway Elementary kindergarten teacher Wendie Orrison for her innovative adaptation of the school’s Mandarin Immersion curriculum.
Other winners include Todd Lesner of Westminster Elementary, Danette Parks of Venice Lutheran, Liz Romero of Coeur d’Alene, Bonnie Roche-Blair of Venice High School, Nancy Chin of Walgrove Elementary School and Stephen Cordova of Westside Global Awareness Magnet.