Monroe High School Educator Named As a California Teacher of the Year

LOS ANGELES (Oct. 16, 2016) - Isela Lieber, a former English learner who now teaches English and English as a Second Language at James Monroe High School, was named today by state Superintendent Tom Torlakson as one of five California Teachers of the Year.

An immigrant from Ecuador who came to the U.S. with only a seventh-grade education and very little knowledge of the English language, Lieber said she strongly identifies with her students, leading by example and sharing her personal story.

“I want to make a difference in the students I serve,” Lieber said. “I tell them that I studied hard and I worked hard and I have been able to achieve something, and that I believe they can do the same thing.”

In addition to her work in the classroom, Lieber sponsors SUCCEED, a club she founded that provides information and support to first-generation high school students interested in pursuing a post-secondary education.

Lieber has been teaching for 10 years, starting her career at Sepulveda Middle School and working the last four years at Monroe High in the San Fernando Valley. She also worked six years as a specialist, training other educators in bilingual education.

“Her example to our students is living proof of a strong commitment to student achievement,” said Monroe High School Principal Chris Rosas. “As an immigrant herself, English learner, and first-generation college student, she makes a daily commitment to serve by leading by example.”

Torlakson also announced two other L.A. Unified educators as finalists for the Teacher of the Year honors – Marcella DeBoer, who teaches English at the Cesar Chavez Learning Academies, and Matthew Waynee, a cinematic arts teacher at the LAUSD/USC Media Arts & Engineering Magnet.

“We are so proud of Ms. Lieber and our finalists for their unwavering commitment to our students,” said L.A. Unified Superintendent Michelle King. “These exceptional educators are role models – not only to their colleagues within the District but also to teachers around California.”

Torlakson will honor the Teachers of the Year and the finalists at a gala to be held in Sacramento in February.

“These inspiring and innovative teachers enrich the lives of our students while helping them to succeed in 21st century careers and college,” Torlakson said. “These teachers represent the best of their profession and serve as great examples.”

Lieber said she was overcome with emotion when learning of the honor – especially after being nominated for the award by a former student.

“She said that I inspired her,” Lieber said. “She wants to be a teacher, too.”


Pictured: Isela Lieber (left) and L.A. Unified Superintendent Michelle King

Contact: Shannon Haber (213) 241-6766


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