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English teacher nominated for Valley award

Walking into Principal Gary Schultz’s office, English teacher Molly Sargent wondered what all the commotion was about. To her surprise, The California League of High Schools [CLHS] named her one of the ten finalists for Educator of the Year in the Valley on April 29 at The Piccadilly Inn University in Fresno.

“I was completely stunned,” Sargent said. “I was not expecting this at all. When I was younger I thought, wouldn’t it be great to be teacher of the year! But getting awards is not the reason I step into the classroom day after day.”

Students agree that this award was well deserved by Sargent and praise her teaching technique.

“Mrs. Sargent totally deserves this,” Tyler Wiebe, ’04, said. “She’s the best teacher ever. I like her because she lets me have coffee in the mornings and she knows that I need it to get me going. I like her teaching methods because if you do the work, you’ll get the grade you deserve. She’s been really understanding and doesn’t mind when the class has a little fun.”

One of the panel members for CLHS, Vicki Westburg, vice principal at De Wolf High School, nominated Sargent for the award.

“I nominated Molly not only because she meets the criteria but she has truly blessed her students through her teaching skills,” Westburg said. “She is an incredible woman, a rare jewel.”

Sargent made the ten finalists in region 7, which includes the Central and South San Joaquin Valley (Fresno, Kings, Madera, Mariposa, Merced, Tulare and Kern Counties).

“Molly has an unbelievable commitment to Christian education and to her students,” Schultz said. “She has a lot of responsibility but takes on any challenge wholeheartedly and meets the needs of her students in amazing ways.”

CLHS hosted a celebration dinner to honor these ten finalists at the Piccadilly Inn University. At this dinner the region 7 winner, science department chair at Hoover High Hal Froese, was announced and will advance to the state competition in Monterey in November.

According to Sargent, the awards banquet was a success, filled with gift baskets and certificates.

“The entire evening was wonderful,” Sargent said. “It was wonderful to receive recognition for doing something I love. I was nervous because I had to give a speech, but managed to stumble my way through it.”

As a panel member, Westburg is responsible for reviewing applications and evaluating the nominees. On average the panel receives 15-40 applications they must scrutinize and review to acknowledge the deserving teacher.

“Any teacher can be nominated,” Westburg said. “We look mainly for three top qualities: leadership, awareness of educational tends and exemplary teaching characteristics. This year was one of the hardest years we’ve ever had because we ended up with 12 final applications and we can only have 10. There were just so many qualified teachers.”

Westburg has experienced Sargent’s teaching and quality education through her son Christopher Westburg, ’03, who had Sargent as an English teacher.

“I believe Molly is the epitome of what a teacher should be,” Westburg said. “She has a balance of compassion with education. Her teaching goes beyond the classroom and she touches kids for life.”

For more information on campus teachers, parents and students can contact the high school office at 299-1695, ext. 5 or the CLHS directly at

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    Elizabeth WerbelowAug 26, 2009 at 11:27 am

    Thanks for getting such an awesome shot of my boys. We have family out of town and I was able to share that with them.

    Keep up the great work.