for the LAUSD News release.
Oct 26 - State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson announced that DMHS teacher Daniel Jocz is among five remarkable educators in the state who have been selected as the 2016 California Teachers of the Year. He is the only LAUSD teacher who made it to the state level. Mr. Jocz is now in the running for the national Teacher of the Year award, which will be announced next spring.
"The teachers we are honoring today are dedicated, energetic, innovative and very effective," Torlakson said. "Every day in the classroom they inspire students to learn, excel and realize their full potential. Their work provides a great example for other teachers."
County offices of education nominate winners through their regional Teachers of the Year competitions. A state selection committee reviews candidates' applications and conducts site visits to evaluate the teachers' rapport with students, classroom environment, presentation skills, and teaching methods, among other criteria.
In his application, Mr. Jocz wrote, "Each day I continuously strive to capture the magic, complexity, and wonder of history for my students across Los Angeles's inner city neighborhoods. All too often my students from neighborhoods as diverse as South Central, East Los Angeles, and Chinatown rarely see themselves as being part of American history."
Mr. Jocz has been a social studies teacher for 11 years and all have been spent at the Downtown Magnets High School, where he is an integral part of the community not only as a teacher, but department chair, instructional leadership team member, and associated student body advisor. His Advanced Placement U.S. History passage rate is among the highest in the district.
His use of 21st century technology, specifically YouTube multimedia, is recognized nationally and worldwide. "My regular use of popular culture and music in my lessons has allowed me to create a curriculum that is not only rigorous, but also relevant, engaging, and develops media literacy skills," he said.
The first in his family to go to college, Mr. Jocz put himself through the University of California, Los Angeles by working full time and taking hourlong bus rides to get to campus. He graduated magna cum laude. As a student himself, he saw that many of America's minority communities were often underrepresented in the recounting of the nation's history.
"To not teach this history…is to do a disservice to our nation's rich, complicated past. This is why I committed my life to teaching history in an urban public school setting," he wrote in his application. He has traveled the world and worked with teachers and students in other countries – allowing him to broaden his own world outlook as well as his curriculum.
His classroom is where students gather. One of his student's parents said it "serves as the heart of (the school's) spirit and headquarters. Mr. Jocz instills a sense of success and pride that our students take with them throughout their day and beyond school hours."
After the county-wide competition resulted in seven awardees, including Mr. Jocz, Superintendent Ramon C. Cortinez stated, “I am so proud of our teachers. They are the dedicated and compassionate instructors in the classroom who help our students achieve educational excellence. They awaken, brighten and influence the lives of young people and help shape the minds of the future.”
Although U.S. History is his official subject, Daniel Jocz from Downtown Business Magnet High School also teaches his students life skills, science, debate, writing, filmmaking, business and theater. “Each day I have the opportunity to prepare students for jobs that haven’t been created yet, awaken passions they never knew they had, and to inspire them to travel to places they never dreamt they would see,” said Mr. Jocz. In reaction to the county award, Mr. Jocz stated, "I am humbled and honored to receive this award. To all of my teacher colleagues, never forget we are the ones who have the biggest impact in education. Keep teaching!”
Read the full October 26 News Release
about the California Teacher of the Year award.