The Desert IndependentTM

Serving Blythe and the Desert Regions of the Southwest Since 2001


Outstanding Educators

Judy Browder Named District Teacher of the Year

By Robert Jensen
The Desert Independent

April 21, 2012

BLYTHE, Calif – At the recent School Board Meeting* on Tuesday, Acting Superintendant Bob Bilek presented the nominated Teacher of the Year candidates from each of the school sites. All had been elected by their peers and the District Teacher of the Year was selected by a committee made up of last year’s candidates. Once all had been introduced, it was that Mrs. Judy Browder of Twin Palms Continuation High School had been named as the District Teacher of the Year.

Mrs. Judy Browder – District Teacher of the Year

Judy Browder graduated from Palo Verde Valley High School and returned in 1996 after her college career. She took a teaching position at Ruth Brown Elementary the fall of 1998 and has been involved with the district on and off throughout the years as a teacher or our GATE program Coordinator. Judy is now teaching at Twin Palms high school where she has been for the past several years. She contacted the American Civil War Society in 2009 and enlisted the whole community and the school district to participate in a 3 day re-enactment of the civil war. It was a huge success and well done. In addition Judy is a mentor to our new teachers through the BTSA program. Judy was one of the top ten finalists in the California League of High Schools Educators of the Year in 2010. She said “It was a huge honor and a great experience.”

The other teacher candidates for the honor are as follows:

Gloria Wallace – Palo Verde Valley High School

Gloria Wallace began at Palo Verde Unified School District in August, 1980 as a kindergarten student at Ruth Brown Elementary. She went through the ranks and graduated at Palo Verde Valley High School. When she returned to Blythe, she wanted to give back to her community and had just that opportunity to fill in mid year 1999 for an absent teacher at Ruth Brown Elementary. In the fall of 2000 she was hired on as a Spanish teacher at the high school where she now works.

John Callan – Blythe Middle School

John Callan has been teaching for Palo Verde Unified School District and more specifically at Blythe Middle School for 16 years. His experience in PVUSD goes back to the days he attended Margaret White Elementary School, then under the leadership of Margaret White herself! During his time in the district the students have sent water rockets to the sky, built recycled junk cars, and built bridges out of paper all under his guidance and directions. He also increased ADA with iguanas, legless lizards, snakes, and singing cockroaches which resided in his classroom.

He contributed time, energy, money, and manual labor to the science club as the students raised money to go to Astro Camp and Catalina Island. On the weekends he could be seen kayaking with students. Mr. Callan has been a positive asset to Blythe Middle School faculty and staff. He has inspired students for 16 years. He will be greatly missed, and while we can’t ever fill his shoes, we will require the next science teacher to wear Hawaiian shirts!

Sharon Wolfenden – Ruth Brown Elementary

Sharon has been teaching for 17 years. Teaching is a second Career for Sharon but it was always her first passion. She began teaching at Blythe Middle School in 1991 and left after two years where she taught in Salinas Valley. She returned to Blythe for an elementary position in February of 2005. Sharon says to her new students each year; “making mistakes is a part of learning so we need to not laugh or point fingers or tease when one of our classmates makes a mistake. After all, why do pencils have erasers if people were not expected to make mistakes?” It is said that she works many hours but would not get the early bird award!

Jo-Elle Perkins – Margaret White Elementary

Prior to moving to Blythe, Jo-Elle worked as a preschool teacher for Headstart and ran a private preschool for several years. Since 2002 Jo-Elle has taught a wide range of grade levels at Margaret White Elementary School. She says her philosophy regarding education is simple: “Teach in a way that is meaningful and accessible to all students, and students who enjoy school will learn! I believe my strengths as a teacher lies in my ability to tie subjects together, so students can recognize relationships between topics, and so they can recognize why the many subjects we learn about each day are important in our world and our daily lives.”

Jeannie Obrien – Appleby Elementary School

Jeannie has been a teacher for over 15 year and we have had the pleasure of her “dare to dream big” mentality for the past two years. Over the years Jeannie has worked as a volunteer with African children as well as countless other humanitarian efforts to help those less fortunate. She says “The role of being a professional educator is the most important role I know and have ever been entrusted with. When I think about my students, I want to positively influence their lives so that they will be kind, compassionate, empathetic human beings who believe they can make a difference in our world.”

The editorial staff of The Desert Independent adds their congratulations to these dedicated professionals who make a tremendous difference in the lives of their students.

*The School Board meeting refers to the Palo Verde Unified School District (PVUSD) Board of Trustees meeting.

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