Local students earn honors in state competitions for aspiring educators

High school students from Anaheim and Santa Ana have taken the top spots in three competitions held by Educators Rising California, which puts young people on the path to careers in teaching.

Project Tomorrow CEO Julie Evans presents Luis Diaz and Teacher Leader James Oveson with competition awards.
Project Tomorrow CEO Julie Evans presents Luis Diaz, left, and teacher leader James Oveson with competition awards.

The winners — from Canyon High School in the Orange Unified School District and Century High School in Santa Ana Unified — were announced in March at the Educators Rising California Central Region Conference. They’re now eligible to compete at a national competition in Phoenix this summer.

Educators Rising is a national network that strives to build a workforce of highly skilled educators by working with teaching candidates in high school, college and into the profession. Its state affiliate, Educators Rising California, is run by Project Tomorrow.

Organizers say the aforementioned competitions help aspiring teachers develop leadership, along with the knowledge and skills associated with future careers in education. This year, participants submitted entries in three categories — Children’s Literature K-3, Lesson Planning and Delivery – STEM, and Creative Lecture.

Here are the winners in each of these categories, as posted on Project Tomorrow’s website:


Children’s Literature K-3

This competition challenged students to think of themselves as teachers and storytellers to create an original book, written and illustrated, for a kindergarten-through-third grade audience. The premise of the competition is that children’s book authors — like educators — help young people understand inner truths and to make sense of the world.

  • 1st Place: Samantha Lee, Canyon High School, “Do You Want a Colored Ear?”
  • 2nd Place: Michelle Tse, Clovis North High School, “One Dollar”
  • 3rd Place: Lauren Lienau, Clovis North High School, “The Best Things in Life”
  • Honorable Mention: Emelia Cameron, Clovis High School, “How to Write a Book”

Lesson Planning and Delivery – STEM

This competition challenged young educators to plan and deliver a science, technology, engineering or math (STEM) lesson of their choosing to an actual classroom of students. Students had to submit a written lesson plan, a short video of their classroom delivery and a reflection piece on what was learned from the experience that will help him/her become a better teacher.

  • 1st Place: Noor Alomair, Sarah Downey, Libby Schmid, Claudia Vidal and Andrew Woolfrey, Canyon High School, “Window into the Solar System”
  • 2nd Place: Kyle Chamblin, Madera High School, “Proof Behind the Area of a Triangle”
  • 3rd Place: Izzy Johnson, Rachel Madain, Makenzie Shellenbaum-Kersten and Justin Smith, Canyon High School, “The Solar System”

Creative Lecture

Mirroring Ted Talks, the 2017 Creative Lecture Competition offered ambitious, fearless, bold-thinking students a platform to share their ideas in a format that has been embraced by intellectual society.

  • 1st Place: Luis Diaz, Century High School
  • 2nd Place: Healani Barbee, Artesia High School
  • 3rd Place: Sarah Downey, Canyon High School

For more information on Educators Rising, contact Pilar Comparan at pcomparan@tomorrow.org.