LaTeira Haynes, a graduate of California State University, Dominguez Hills’ (CSUDH) single subject credential program, has been named a Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) 2015-16 “Rookie of the Year” teacher for her skill in preparing effective instruction and procedures, and providing a positive classroom learning environment for her students.
Haynes, who was enrolled in CSUDH’s Transition to Teaching program, follows in the footsteps of fellow Toros who have been honored recently for their teaching excellence.
Last year, Patrick Sherwood, a first-year teacher from CSUDH’s school residency program, also garnered a Rookie of the Year honor. This past spring, Krystal Braxton, a CSUDH special education teacher who was enrolled in CSUDH’s Secondary Special Education Teacher Interventionist (SSETI) project, received the Outstanding Rookie Teacher of the Year award on behalf of all the district’s Green Dot Schools. In May 2016, Susana Chavez was named Teacher of the Year for her success as a structured English immersion teacher at Thurgood Marshall Elementary School in the City of Lynwood. Chavez has been teaching at the school for three years.
“I didn’t know I was nominated, so I was a bit surprised, but very honored to learn that I was going to receive the Rookie teacher of the Year award,” said Haynes, who teaches biology, physiology, and forensic science at Mervyn Dymally Senior High School in Los Angeles.
I will say, it has been a great year, but at the same time it’s been one of the most challenging years that I’ve ever had in my life. But I love it, I love my students, and I’m just really excited to know that shows.”
Haynes, who earned her bachelor’s degree at Spelman College in Atlanta, Georgia, and her Ph.D. at UC San Diego, teaches biology to 9th and 10th grade students; however, her forensic science and physiology courses are taught at all grade levels. She was also the first educator at the school to teach the new forensic science program.
“One of my passions in life is to see people live up to their potential. I have such fun watching my students grow and accomplish what I know they can do. I tell them ‘I’m a brain personal trainer’ to help shape the way they view the class because sometimes they get the idea that teachers are supposed to give them all the answers,” said Haynes. “To that I say, ‘No. Personal trainers don’t lift the weights for you. They just tell you that you can do it and the right way to do it. So I’m your brain personal trainer, and this is what you can expect from my class.’”
Rookie of the Year recipients (last year there were 23) are nominated by LAUSD school site administrators and new teacher support staff, and then selected by committee from the district’s nearly 900 first-year teachers. Other characteristics that played a role in Haynes receiving the award included “preparing and adopting a dynamic and engaging teaching style,” and showing high levels of professionalism, some of which she developed while teaching in CSUDH’s Transition to Teaching program.
“The Transition to Teaching program is exceptional. I love Dr. Kamal Hamdan [director of the Center for Innovation in STEM Education at CSUDH] and the amount of support he and his team gave me,” said Haynes. “The program enabled me to teach as I was getting my credential—to survive and make money. They were always there to help me and even my students by providing field trips and other things. They’re so amazing.”