August 10, 2021
Pasadena Unified School District 2021 Awards
Teacher, Classified Employee, Principal, Community Partner of the Year, and Superintendent’s Awards Announced
Pasadena, CA -- The Pasadena Unified School District (PUSD) honored the Teacher, Principal, Classified Employee, Community Partner of the Year, and recipients of the Superintendent’s Award at the district’s annual staff event that kicks off the 2021-2022 school year.
The kickoff event for teachers and staff featured a keynote address on social-emotional wellness by Dr. Niki Elliott, Director of the Center for Neurodiversity, Learning, and Wellness in the LaFetra College of Education at the University of La Verne and founder of the Mindful Leaders Project. Dr. Elliot provides training in wellness and social-emotional learning for educators, helping professionals, and parents.
PUSD Superintendent of Schools Brian McDonald, Ed.D., presented the outstanding educators and organizations in a virtual ceremony broadcast on August 10, 2021, for district employees. Watch a recording of the broadcast at www.gopusd.com/welcomeback2021
“The last year was a time of extraordinary challenges and it is more important than ever that we honor the outstanding employees and community partners who brought innovative thinking and care to their work for our students and families,” said Superintendent McDonald. “This is a well-deserved recognition of the educators and community partners who stepped up to keep our students learning and growing.”
Teacher of the Year: Julie Silk, Jackson STEM Dual Language Magnet Academy
During the pandemic, Pasadena Unified teachers demonstrated their resilience, innovative spirit, and commitment to our students. Teaching in an online environment was challenging, and PUSD teachers came through with passion and imagination to actively engage students.
Each year, PUSD recognizes educators who have shown exemplary dedication, excellent classroom practices, and professional commitment.
Julie Silk is one of the founding teachers of PUSD’s Dual Language Immersion Program. She has taught first-grade Spanish Dual Immersion for 12 years, first at San Rafael Elementary and currently at Jackson STEM Dual Language Elementary. She joined PUSD in 2004.
An inspiring teacher who engages students and their families, Ms. Silk adapted quickly during the pandemic and the year of distance learning. Without having met her students in person, Ms. Silk cultivated strong bonds through whole class lessons and intentional support through small groups, focused lessons, and individual attention. Ms. Silk is passionate, enthusiastic, and inspiring.
Classified Employee of the Year: Maricela Borough, School Community Assistant, Washington STEAM Multilingual Academy
Classified school employees support the education of Pasadena Unified students from early education through 12th grade. From food service and clerical to facilities, instructional aides and security, these employees are the unsung heroes who play key roles in creating a school environment that contributes to the whole child by promoting student achievement, safety, and health.
During the year of the pandemic and distance learning, Pasadena Unified classified employees provided essential services, serving more than three million meals to students and families, providing technology support for students and their teachers, and administering COVID-19 vaccines and tests to employees and students.
Maricela Borough has worked at PUSD since 1993 and has served as the school community assistant at Washington STEAM Multilingual Academy since 2012.
Ms. Borough serves as a liaison between families, schools, and the communities, and facilitates communication among parents, teachers, staff, and the community, including providing interpretation and translation during meetings, conferences, and school activities.
She provides information to help families access information and services to support their children’s learning. Ms. Borough has done an outstanding job providing a link between families and schools.
Principal of the Year: Dr. Lawton Gray III, Ed.D., John Muir Early College Magnet
Dr. Gray joined PUSD in 2017 as principal of John Muir Early College Magnet. An alumnus of John Muir and a PUSD parent, Dr. Gray is a strong leader who lives and breathes the Mustang’s blue and gold.
Dr. Gray is deeply committed to his students, establishing a loving environment where every student is seen and heard. Walking around the campus, Dr. Gray can’t go more than a few steps without stopping to greet someone and ask how they’re doing.
As principal at PUSD’s Early College high school, Dr. Gray also ensures that students learn to set and strive for high expectations. Under his leadership, Muir has grown into a thriving magnet school where all students begin their college journey in 9th grade.
Dr. Gray models the way and ensures that all students have the access and support to achieve their college dreams. During the pandemic, Dr. Gray visited students at their homes or jobs to ensure that they stayed connected to the school community.
Community Partner of the Year: The Pasadena Educational Foundation
Every year, the Pasadena Unified School District honors individuals or organizations who are making significant contributions to the PUSD community.
For nearly 50 years, the Pasadena Educational Foundation has helped raise millions of dollars to support and strengthen Pasadena Unified schools. The Foundation has been instrumental in incubating some of PUSD’s signature innovative programs such as Dual Language, the Math Academy, Arts Education, and much more. When the pandemic began and school buildings closed, the Pasadena Educational Foundation stepped up immediately to support students, staff, and families.
The Foundation became an essential partner in PUSD’s COVID response. The Foundation became an essential partner in PUSD’s COVID response. During the year of distance learning, PEF volunteers worked alongside district food service to provide more than 3 million meals for children and families. They supported the district’s vaccination clinics and provided essential equipment. To help prepare our students to reintegrate back into in-person learning, PEF provided its summer program free of charge to hundreds of PUSD students.
This award recognizes PEF’s exceptional support not only in the last year -- but for nearly 50 years.
Watch the video
Superintendent's Award: Beth Leyden, Director, KLRN
Since the beginning of the pandemic, Beth Leyden and the team at KLRN, the District’s television channel, stepped up in a big way by keeping the PUSD community informed about events in the district.
Beth’s achievements have had a positive impact on our district. She and KLRN produced videos that kept students, staff, and families informed. These included messages about the pandemic, videos explaining handwashing, physical distancing, how to wear masks, and much more.
KLRN used the magic of video to inform and inspire our community.
Superintendent’s Award: Pasadena Community Foundation
During the pandemic, PUSD students, parents, teachers, and staff benefitted from multiple grants awarded by the Pasadena Community Foundation, which truly went “above and beyond” to ensure that the District’s most vulnerable families had the supplies and the support they needed.
The grants provided:
Personal protective equipment at the start of the pandemic for the staff of Food & Nutrition Services, Custodial Services, and Health Programs, who came to work despite the risks.
Support for the district’s Families in Transition program so that homeless students and their families had their basic needs met while our campuses were closed.
Support for the Special Education Department to improve outreach during remote learning to families of students with special needs who are also English learners.
Support for Madison Elementary School to provide remote and in-person tutoring and other services for students who struggled with distance learning.
Watch the 2021 PUSD All-Staff Welcome Back
Watch the 2021 PUSD All-Staff Welcome Back Event #pusdwbe at www.gopusd.com/welcomeback2021
The PUSD annual awards are supported by the Pasadena Educational Foundation and the California Credit Union.