Erin Huizinga Honored as National Engineers Week 2011 Teacher of the Year

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© Lawana Godwin
(L) Cdr. Alfred Joseph, USN (Ret.), American Society of Naval Engineers, and (R) Paul Callaway, American Council of Engineering Companies, presented the 2011 Teacher of the Year award to (C) Erin Huizinga, Pacifica High School, during the National Engineers Week celebration held at The Ronald Reagan Presidential Library on March 3, 2011. © Lawana Godwin
The American Society of Naval Engineers (ASNE) Channel Islands Section, and the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) Santa Barbara-Ventura Branch Los Angeles Section, recognized Erin Huizinga as their 2011 Teacher of the Year. Huizinga received the award at the annual Santa Barbara and Ventura Counties National Engineers Week (NEW) dinner held at The Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley on March 3, 2011.

Huizinga was selected has Teacher of the Year because her dedication to her students and profession is simply top notch. She has inspired her students to see that they can succeed and that science offers a wonderful opportunity to a successful career path. She has energized the minds of 10th-12th grade students at Pacifica High School for the Oxnard Union High School District by starting a Health Sciences Academy.

ASNE initiated the award in 1998, and for the past several years ASCE has collaborated with ASNE because the society members recognized the need to showcase the contributions teachers are making to the engineering profession.

Cdr. Alfred Joseph, USN (Ret.), ASNE Region 5 Counsel and Channel Islands Section member, and Paul Callaway, ASCE past-president, presented the award to Huizinga.

Huizinga’s superb credentials exemplify what it takes to inspire students. She has been a teacher for the past 17 years. She has been at Pacifica High School since 2001 when the school opened and has served as the Science Department Chair. She has a B.A. in Biology; M.A. in Physical Education; California Teaching Credential in Life Science, Chemistry, Psychology, Physical Education, and English Language Learners.

In February 2006, Huizinga started the Health Science Academy – a small learning community that promotes the study of sciences and becoming prepared for postsecondary education or the workforce in the health services career pathway. Examples of potential careers are physician, nursing, athletic training, or pharmaceutical.

The Health Science Academy is a three-year program starting in the 10th grade. Within the academy program, a rigorous interdisciplinary college preparatory program is provided along with new, advanced curriculum incorporating career technical standards and workplace learning in the health sciences. The students are in a cohort and take a minimum of four academic core classes together – English, social science, science, and a career technical course related to the health science pathway. Students participate in workplace learning through observations, guest speakers, and internships. Other activities include completing interdisciplinary projects, entering science competitions, and participating in a Red Shirt program in coordination with California State University Channel Islands and St. John’s Regional Medical Center.

For the teachers the Health Science Academy has created a family atmosphere where they have a common prep that enables them to discuss strengths and weaknesses of each student, approaches to engage students more, and collaboration across content areas.

The results – the number of students going on to a four year university, with many of them majoring in the sciences, are above the average for most high schools – even those in predominantly higher socioeconomic areas.

Huizinga said, “I am honored to be recognized. I do what I do because I love teaching and encouraging students to do their best. It is beyond me to have such a prestigious award presented to me for something I love to do.”

NEW is jointly celebrated by 18 local, state, and national professional engineering societies. Each year volunteers from the societies collaborate to conduct the annual NEW award ceremony. The intent is to foster a greater understanding and appreciation of all facets of the engineering profession, and to recognize the outstanding individuals and projects that have contributed to our community in a measurable and positive way. During the celebration, Engineer of the Year and Project of the Year awards are presented by each society and outstanding engineering students earn scholarships.

Please note views and opinions expressed by the NEW Committee are not necessarily shared by The Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Foundation.

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