SAN DIEGO - Twelve years ago, Ellie Vandiver was working as a nurse in Michigan. Tuesday, Vandiver received the San Diego High School Teacher of the Year award for her outstanding performance in the classroom. Vandiver is a Project Lead The Way (PLTW) Biomedical Sciences teacher at University City High School in San Diego.
Vandiver and her fellow elementary and middle school teacher of the year award-winners were recognized during a ceremony at Madison High School in San Diego on national Teacher Appreciation Day.
"It's overwhelming and unbelievable because if someone said 12 years ago, I would be the San Diego teacher of the year, I would have never believed it," Vandiver told San Diego's Fox5 television station.
The Biomedical Sciences program that Vandiver teaches is part of Project Lead The Way, a national non-profit organization that provides engineering and biomedical sciences curricula to middle and high schools. Through the courses she teaches, Vandiver helps her students prepare for careers in medical fields, having seen more than 20 students become nurses, doctors, medical researchers, and other healthcare-related professionals.
“Ellie is a fantastic teacher who brings relevancy to every lesson," said Duane Crum, California state leader for PLTW. "Her ninth grade students have created new curriculum and raised funding and solicited equipment to support schools in Uganda, while her seniors work alongside medical professionals in both clinical and research internships. Ellie’s classrooms host a steady stream of visitors who come to witness the magic happening there.”
Vandiver will now compete against the elementary and middle school teachers of the year and the three runners-up to be named San Diego County Teacher of the Year. That announcement is planned for October.