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June 28, 2011 > Mark Schoeller - Milpitas Teacher of the Year

Mark Schoeller - Milpitas Teacher of the Year

By Miriam G. Mazliach, Photo courtesy of Mark Schoeller

At the Milpitas Employee Recognition Reception held May 23, Mark C. Schoeller was recognized as the district's Teacher of the Year. Schoeller, an 8th grade Language Arts, Reading teacher and At-Risk Coordinator, has taught at Thomas Russell Middle School in Milpitas since 2004.

"Winning the award was indeed a shock," says Schoeller. "Being nominated at my site was in itself an honor. I work with thirty or so world-class teachers at Thomas Russell Middle School. Winning for the entire district was a genuinely humbling and unexpected experience."

Principal Laura Foegal elaborates, "His passion is teaching and student success, which is evident upon your first meeting with him. He treats this as a 24-hour job, evenings and weekends. Mark reaches out to families for their involvement and support. He takes away every excuse for not being successful."

Various staff members wrote in support of Schoeller's nomination. They related that in addition to the Language Arts classes, he takes his role as the "At Risk Coordinator" very seriously by taking the initiative to visit the homes of academically challenged students, even those not in his class. In that way he is able to connect with the parents and gain great insight into the background and life of his students. According to Schoeller, "To truly know how to teach our students, we need to know what their lives are like, and they're not always the same - or as comfortable - as ours."

He holds students accountable for their work and calls or emails parents to keep them informed when a problem arises. Most mornings Schoeller arrives at school early to be available to assist students or to provide extra tutoring.

Overall, Schoeller's colleagues applaud him for "creating an environment where participation is not an option, but an expectation." His collaborative mindset, willingness to share new educational information with them, and teamwork has had a positive effect on the entire staff and its efforts to help every student become successful.

"I have many people to thank," says Schoeller, "a decent school board that puts children first, an administration that supports teachers materially and emotionally, colleagues who help and inspire one another, a school team that works together, a harmonious and nurturing English department, a Milpitas community that prioritizes education, offers financial and material support and sends us second-to-none students, a union that works cooperatively and positively, a family of teachers who inspired me to become a teacher, and a wife who shares my joy for my work and allows me to work long hours. I certainly did not obtain this prestigious award alone."

Russell Middle School's staff and principal are grateful for all that Schoeller does to encourage and support students. They know that it is his joyful spirit towards his students and his career that truly set him apart.

"At Russell, we often speak of the Thomas Russell family," says Schoeller. "When I was a newcomer, I was a bit suspicious of this sentiment. However, as I kept coming back for the last seven years, I have come to totally believe. In sixteen years of teaching, I have never seen such love and devotion at a work place." Schoeller adds, "This connectedness exists throughout the entire district and I continue to be grateful to be a part of this phenomenal workplace."

Schoeller is now in consideration for the Santa Clara County Teacher of the Year. The County Office of Education will announce the winner on September 27, 7 p.m., at the Heritage Theatre in Campbell. All are welcome to attend.

Principal Foegal comments, "The staff will be out there in full force to support him."

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