School: Edison High School
District: Huntington Beach Unified School District
County: Orange County
Region: Southern California
Grade: High School
Award Year: 2018
“Teaching is challenging work and my challenge to my colleagues all across America is this: join me. Innovate. Sustain. Connect. Together, I’m positive we can improve education for all our students. And I’m positive our students will change the world.” — Gregory Gardiner
For the past 21 years, I have devoted my life to educating students in the Huntington Beach Union High School District (HBUHSD) at Edison High School (EHS). I’m a hands-on, minds-on teacher. I teach a wide variety of science courses working with students of all abilities. My passion for STEAM-based courses led me to be the first to teach AP Environmental Science in HBUHSD, the first to partner with Hubbs-Seaworld Research Institute to raise White SeaBass in the classroom, and the first to found the Academy of Sustainability and Engineering (ASE), a collaboration of STEAM-rooted courses in math and science that focuses on project-based learning. I believe in collaboration and community involvement. Now more than ever, public education in California needs to lead in inclusion and collaboration for the benefit of all our students.
I have been instrumental in creating an Innovation Lab where students can have hands-on experiences, problem-solve, and build sustainable systems applying STEAM concepts. Lab projects include aquaculture breeding programs for tilapia, learning the biology of raising rainbow trout, working with coral to provide unique learning opportunities for students. The Innovation Lab’s main focus is to provide students with focused learning in the areas of environmental conservation and urban agricultural methods through aquaponic, hydroponic and aquaculture systems. You should visit my Orange County Teacher of the Year YouTube video which describes how I came up with the Edison Innovation Lab. I also have an underwater camera filming a livestream video of the Edison Innovation Lab Coral Tank System and the underwater camera idea was an idea derived from my students that work in the Innovation Lab.
Elliot Skolnick, SAC Special Programs Administrator, Edison High School, said, “If you are very fortunate once or twice in your life, you will meet someone whose true purpose in life is to make things better for all people and creatures that come in contact with them…He is a walking, talking embodiment of creativity, kindness, positivity, and generosity. There is nothing he will not do to help a student or cause them to reach their potential.”
As public school educators, we want to give back to what we love, which is educating the youth of California, and we can do it through using our voices to promote positive change within our educational communities.