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'Outstanding Teacher of America'

Cabrillo High School math and engineering teacher Kenneth Fisher has received $20,000 as a recipient of the Carlston Family Foundation Outstanding Teachers of America Award.

He accepted a check for $5,000 at last week’s Board of Education meeting, having already received $15,000 for the honor.  The $5,000 will be used at the school as Fisher sees fit.

The awards are given each year to exceptional California public high school teachers, nominated only by former students who believe their teachers made a life-changing impact.  Fisher was one of five teachers honored by the foundation in recent weeks.

Presenting the latest check was Timothy Allen, executive director of the foundation.

“From my conversations with Ken’s former students, it was exceptionally clear that his instructional skills and techniques, as well as his personal guidance, significantly contributed to both their academic and personal success,” Allen said.  “They shared with me how he impacted their lives by giving of his personal time, sharing his passion for calculus and engineering, creating interesting and relevant lessons and activities to enhance his instruction, challenging them to always do their best work, and supporting them even when they did not believe in themselves.”

As he accepted the check, Fisher’s voice broke slightly with emotion when he acknowledged his family for allowing him to work long days so that he can support students.

“I want to thank my lovely wife and children.  Throughout my time at Cabrillo, I spend 12, 13, 14 hours a day there, very often going in on Saturdays, tutoring kids until eight, nine, 10 o’clock at night.  And my wife and kids sacrifice their time away from me, for me to be able to help the children of Long Beach, so I greatly appreciate it.” Fisher said.

He also credited the school district for supporting teachers.

“Thank you, Long Beach Unified School District, school board members and really all the trainers throughout Long Beach because in my 20 years of service to this school district, I’ve been able to be the teacher I am because you allow me to be that style of teacher.  The trainings you put us through, everything you do to help each teacher grow and advance is incredible.  From picking the right administration to having the right staff at every school.  The Cabrillo staff is amazing.  Everybody works together.  The way the administration comes together to help us keep continuing to grow in our fields and our crafts is absolutely amazing.”

Fisher earned LBUSD and countywide Teacher of the Year honors in 2012.

His latest honor was accompanied by poignant testimonials from former students.

One former student wrote, “Mr. Fisher is the only reason I decided to even think about pursuing a college education.  Since my ninth grade year, he continuously motivated me to do well in school.  He kept telling me that in the long run, college will be the key to a better a life.  I began to value more and more the importance of going to college.”

Another student said, “Mr. Fisher truly believed in all of us.  And we did not want to let him down.  He helped us learn from our mistakes, and worked with us until we completely understood how we solved the problems that he presented.  Learning to use this process in every class was extremely helpful, and it was particularly effective when I got to college.”

Visit carlstonfamilyfoundation.com learn more about the Outstanding Teachers of America awards.

Kenneth Fisher