NORWALK -- Kelly Garcia, a teacher on special assignment and Project Lead the Way program coordinator with the Norwalk-La Mirada Unified School District, has been named a Project Lead the Way Gateway Teacher of the Year.
Garcia, who teaches engineering at Benton Middle School and Norwalk High School, recently won the national award for her diligent work to engage all NLMUSD students in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, which are known as STEM subjects. She has focused on helping increase female and underrepresented students in STEM pathways.
Project Lead the Way, or PLTW, is an Indianapolis-based nonprofit organization that offers programs and training that provide transformative learning experiences for K-12 students and teachers across the U.S.
Garcia, a resident of La Mirada who has been with NLMUSD for seven years, was one of five educators recognized as PLTW program teachers of the year for their outstanding commitment to inspiring and empowering students to thrive in an evolving world. The five awardees were selected from among thousands of candidates.
Earlier in the year, Garcia had won the PLTW Gateway California Teacher of the Year award.
“It’s a little bit overwhelming and exciting. I haven’t been teaching that long and I never expected anything like this,” said Garcia about the national honor, which she and the other winners received at the recent PLTW Summit 2017 in Orlando, Fla.
NLMUSD Board of Education President Sean Reagan praised Garcia for her daily efforts to encourage and assist youths. “Kelly is, without doubt, an exemplary teacher and we greatly appreciate the work she does every day to help students in their academic progress,” he said.
Garcia is well regarded by colleagues who applaud her constant efforts to motivate students and create education opportunities for them. Understanding the need to increase female participation in the STEM fields, she has organized professional development training for district STEM teachers to help address the biases that impact girls and underrepresented groups.
She also has organized a Mother-Daughter Engineering Workshop and Tea event, giving mothers and daughters the chance to together learn about the many opportunities available in STEM careers.
NLMUSD Supt. Hasmik Danielian said she is grateful to have committed and passionate teachers like Garcia in the district who can serve as role models. “Kelly is meeting the challenge of preparing her students with the in-demand knowledge and transportable skills they will need to succeed in college and in their careers,” she said.
More than 10,500 elementary, middle, and high schools in all 50 states and the District of Columbia offer various PLTW programs. For more information, visit pltw.org.