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Mira Costa’s Bill Fauver is Los Angeles County Teacher of the Year

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Mira Costa’s 2010-2011 Los Angeles County Teacher of the Year Bill Fauver relaxes in his office, enjoying pizza provided by the school’s Jewish Cultural Club for which he serves as advisor. Photo by Andrea Ruse

Mira Costa High School history teacher Bill Fauver was the only educator in the South Bay chosen as a 2010-2011 Los Angeles County Teacher of the Year.

Fauver was among 16 educators countywide to receive the honor, which is awarded annually by the Los Angeles County Office of Education. The winners were recognized at a Sept. 20 ceremony in Universal City.

“Bill Fauver exemplifies the very best in this profession of public education,” said Manhattan Beach Unified School District Superintendent Dr. Michael Matthews. “He knows that every day in his history classroom is a precious opportunity to guide students toward the understanding that knowledge of our past is essential to their future.”

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The award is given to educators who represent the best among teachers and is the county’s largest honors competition for K-12 teachers.

Fauver, 49, teaches 11th grade advanced placement history at Costa, in addition to his position as Dept. Chair of Social Studies.

“It’s very gratifying and humbling” he said. “There are dozens that could win this award and dozens who deserve it more than I do.”

A Visalia native, Fauver has spent 24 years in the classroom — all of them at Costa — where his peers have three times selected him as the school’s Teacher of the Year.

After what he described as a “grueling” process  — in which he had to write five essays, be observed in the classroom and be interviewed by a committee of educators and administrators — Fauver won MBUSD’s Teacher of the Year award for the second time earlier this year, which put him in the running for the county honor.

“While all of the site Teachers of the Year were outstanding, Bill Fauver stood out because of his lesson design, the level of engagement his students displayed during the lesson observation and his ability to articulate his personal philosophy of teaching during the interview,” said Carolyn Seaton, MBUSD’s executive director of Student Services.

From an early age, Fauver developed a love of history. One of his favorite pastimes was listening to records that played the speeches of past U.S. Presidents.

“In my seven-year-old mind, I thought it was the actual voices of presidents,” Fauver recalled. “I found it endlessly fascinating.”

After moving to the Los Angeles area in 1981, he earned his bachelor of arts in political science and teaching credential from UCLA.

He began teaching history at Costa in 1986.

For the last 17 years he has taught advanced placement history. In all but his first year of teaching the course, at least 95 percent of his students have passed the AP history exam.  Last year, 96 percent of his students passed — with 65 percent earning the highest score possible — while 52 percent of students passed nationwide and 52 percent passed statewide.

“In every AP class, these kids don’t believe they can do what I ask them to do,” Fauver said. “I tell them at the beginning of the year that my goal is for them to get the highest score possible so they can get the best benefit from the hell we’re about to go through. In July, when they get their scores, they really know they accomplished something and that their blood, sweat and tears paid off. Ask more of kids than they think they can accomplish and they will surprise themselves.”

The many hats Fauver wears include Jewish Cultural Club advisor, junior varsity golf coach and Young Democrats advisor at Costa. He has worked in the past as a vice principal, yearbook advisor and the academic decathlon coach. He also founded the school’s Scholar Quiz competition and developed the UCLA Quiz Bowl team, which both foster academic competition.

Favuer lives in Redondo Beach with his wife, Bernardette, and their two daughters Anna and Elizabeth.

While on vacation in Portland, Oregon this summer, he received a call that he’d been nominated for the county Teacher of the Year Award. He flew down for a 20 minute interview then back to Portland before finding out he’d been accepted as one of the county’s “Sweet 16.”

“Any award I get is really a testament to the people I’ve worked with over the years,” Fauver said.

Fauver will automatically advance with other county winners to the California Teacher of the Year Award competition this fall. In November, the five state co-winners are scheduled to be announced, one of whom will represent California in the National Teacher of the Year contest in the spring.

While education funding continues to dwindle and state officials continue to hold a microscope over classrooms, Fauver reminds himself of why he got into teaching in the first place.

“Ultimately, the good things about teaching are still the same,” he said. “There’s a lot of bureaucratic nonsense and political mandates. As for the every-day interaction between teacher and student — the moment you shut that door and block the other stuff out — that’s still there. If that gets you up in the morning and that hasn’t changed, there’s still a great benefit to this job.” ER

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