Island High teacher takes county Teacher of the Year honors
John Nolan recalls picking out the teacher he thought would earn Alameda County Teacher of the Year honors as he sat at an October 7 awards banquet at the Castro Valley Center for the Arts.
“When they called my name, I was really surprised,” the Island High English teacher, who is sharing the honor with a Fremont teacher this year, recalled late last week.
Like many other teachers, Nolan, 49, of Oakland, has endured trying times here at Alameda Unified. Last spring he was one of the more than 100 teachers who received pink slips as the district worked to balance its budget in the face of an anticipated decline in state funding. (Nolan was reinstated.) Island High could also be facing a move in the middle of this school year.
“It’s kind of emotionally difficult,” Nolan said of the pink slip. “But one of the benefits of the profession is, every day you get to work with students that are really optimistic. Their energy and resilience is amazing every day.”
Nolan has been teaching for 26 years, and while he said he kept an open mind about what profession he’d choose, the classroom always beckoned. He worked in Salinas for 17 years before coming to Alameda four years ago.
Nolan said the staff and Island’s principal, Alysse Castro, are “extremely supporting” and he credited the district for its efforts to help teachers grow professionally.
Nolan’s dedication to Alameda’s schools extends outside the classroom: He’ll be donating the $2,000 check he earned as Teacher of the Year to the school district. And Nolan, who said he made phone calls in an effort to get the Measure E parcel tax passed, said he’ll be involved with any new effort to get a tax passed, too.
“I guess I need to be even more active this time,” Nolan said.