LAUSD Educator Nominated for National Teacher of the Year

LOS ANGELES (Oct. 28, 2015) - Daniel Jocz, who has taught social studies for 11 years at Los Angeles Unified’s Downtown Magnets High School, was named today as one of five California Teachers of the Year for 2016.

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson also tapped Jocz as California’s candidate for National Teacher of the Year.

“Congratulations to Mr. Jocz, one of the finest teachers in the Los Angeles Unified School District, for this recognition at the state level, and for being selected to represent California in the national competition,” LAUSD Superintendent Ramon C. Cortines said. “Teachers, like Mr. Jocz, change lives. These miracle-workers rarely get the recognition they deserve for instructing and inspiring so many students.”

An integral part of the Downtown Magnets community, Jocz is a teacher, department chair, Associated Student Body adviser and member of the Instructional Leadership Team. The passage rate of his Advanced Placement students on the U.S. History exam is among the highest in the District.

“I strive every day to capture the magic, complexity and wonder of history for my students from across Los Angeles’ inner-city neighborhoods,” Jocz said. “My students from neighborhoods as diverse as South and East Los Angeles and Chinatown rarely see themselves as being part of American history.”

His use of YouTube and 21st century technology to complement his lessons has been recognized nationally.

“My regular use of popular culture and music in my lessons has allowed me to create a curriculum that is rigorous, relevant and engaging, and helps my students develop media literacy skills,” he said.

The first in his family to go to college, Jocz worked full-time to put himself through school and graduated magna cum laude from the University of California-Los Angeles. During his studies, he came to realize 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 Teacher of the Year application.

Jocz has traveled the world and worked with teachers and students in other countries. These experiences have allowed him to broaden his own outlook, as well as his curriculum.

The Temple Street campus is home to business and electronic information/multimedia magnet programs. According to the parents of one of Jocz’s students, his classroom is where kids gather.

“It serves as the heart of (the school’s) spirit and headquarters,” the parent said. “Mr. Jocz instills a sense of success and pride that our students take with them throughout their day and beyond school hours.”

The California Teachers of the Year Program began in 1972 to honor outstanding educators and encourage newcomers to enter the field.

The first level of competition was at the school district. The L.A. Unified Teachers of the Year were submitted to the Los Angeles County Office of Education for consideration as regional winners. At the next level, a state selection committee reviewed candidates' applications and conducted site visits to evaluate their rapport with students, classroom environment, presentation skills, and teaching methods, among other criteria.
The finalists were interviewed, at the office of the California Department of Education, in Sacramento. The state superintendent then selected the five honorees, and determined that Jocz would move on to the national competition.

State Superintendent Torlakson will honor the 2016 California Teachers of the Year, the finalists, and semi-finalists at a gala scheduled in Sacramento on Feb. 15, 2016.

Contact: Ellen T. Morgan (213) 241-6766