Hali Metelak honored as a Los Angeles County “2009-2010 Teacher of the Year”
Santa Paula News
Published: November 13, 2009
Whitney Halin “Hali” Metelak is one of 16 teachers honored recently as Los Angeles County 2009-2010 Teachers of the Year. On September 29, Los Angeles County Superintendent of Schools Darline P. Robles named the “Sweet 16” as outstanding educators who have been serving with praiseworthy distinction.
“These teachers have been judged by their peers as shining examples of this shining profession,” said Robles. “Every day they make the most of a precious opportunity – to make a positive difference in the lives of their students.”
Hali is a product of the Santa Paula public school system. She attended Bedell, Isbell, and Santa Paula High School, graduating in the top 10% of her class in 1995. She earned her AA degree from Ventura College, where she won a state championship ring with the 1997 women’s basketball team.
Hali continued her education at California State University, Northridge, receiving her bachelor’s degree in English and a master’s degree in Secondary English Education. She has taught English in the Los Angeles Unified School District for eight years, and for the past seven years she has taught “Language!”, an intensive reading intervention program, to at-risk middle school students who scored at or below the 20th percentile on California’s state standardized reading tests. She currently teaches at Vista Middle School in Van Nuys.
From 2004-2006, Hali volunteered her time, teaching writing to incarcerated youth in Los Angeles’ Barry J. Nidhorf Juvenile Hall through the non-profit organization InsideOUT Writers. During this time, she assisted in the development of a creative writing curriculum for the Los Angeles County Office of Education.
In addition to being named a Los Angeles County Teacher of the Year, Hali has been a featured teacher in the 2006-2007 training video, “Language! In the Classroom,” and she was a 2007 Wal-Mart Teacher of the Year. Currently she is working toward her National Board Certification, as well as her Reading Specialist Credential from California State University, Northridge.
For Hali, teaching is more than just an occupation. “I don’t just teach them how to read, but to love reading,” said Hali. “Once they learn, all of a sudden they do better in school, they are excited about learning, and they are not getting into as much trouble.”
In addition to getting interviewed, contestants for L.A. County Teacher of the Year submitted essays, lesson plans and other materials to judging panels comprised of peers. At all levels, Teacher of the Year contests are designed to focus public attention on teaching excellence and to honor exemplary dedication, compelling classroom practices, positive accomplishments and professional commitment.
Each teacher honored received a $1,000 cash prize, courtesy of the California Credit Union, the program’s main sponsor. The 16 L.A. County winners automatically advanced with other county titlists from around the state to the California Teacher of the Year competition. The state was scheduled to announce its five co-winners in November, one of whom would be chosen to represent California in the National Teacher of the Year contest next spring.
Hali is the daughter of Cathy and Gary Metelak of Santa Paula.