Wednesday, June 27, 2012

William Hyres Named CCCOE’s Teacher of the Year

It is quite obvious, that when you walk into William “Will” Hyres’ Golden Gate Community School classroom in Rodeo, our Contra Costa County Office of Education’s (CCCOE) newest Teacher of the Year (TOY) has found his professional calling—and his students are the benefactors of his passion.  It’s a treat to watch Will tend to the needs of his entire classroom, which can certainly be a challenge, with ease and confidence.  Whether he needs to settle down a few students who are talking; presenting his lesson to the class; or walking over to a student’s desk, after being respectfully asked, “Hey Hyres, is this correct?” 

Most of Will’s 25 students, grades 7-12, have been referred by school district expulsion (John Swett USD), as well as truancy and behavioral issues.  His classroom is located in an old storefront on the main street of the small town of Rodeo, most of his students live within walking distance.  “As the only CCCOE class in town, Will must meet many challenges, but he has made them into many daily opportunities for the students and their families,” reports the school’s Principal Rebecca Corrigan. 

Right after earning his bachelor’s degree in history, followed by obtaining his teaching credential at Chico State University, Will began teaching for the Butte County Office of Education’s School of Applied Resources, which is their version of our community schools.  A few years later, Will taught a year of middle-school social science in a traditional-school setting, in Elk Grove, but he did not enjoy the experience as he did with the Butte COE.  While surveying his classroom’s students, during their lunch break, Will said, “I really like the personal attention I can give to my students and their parents with a class like this one.  For me, it’s a more positive teaching experience.”

After his traditional-school-teaching stint, Will joined the CCCOE in 2005.  “My mother graduated from [nearby] John Swett High School, so I feel good about assisting the students that come from the same region,” says Will.  “I either help them get back into John Swett, help them graduate, or help them repair their credits as much as humanly possible so that they can quickly graduate from adult school.”

“I watch them enter into college, work, and sometimes parenthood,” Will adds.  “They check back in with me, and I am pleased to see so many living productive and successful lives.  I sometimes hear the tragic stories about those who don’t finish high school, but I cannot dwell on the negative.  I see the harm that comes from not finishing high school, and though I will keep those tales private, I truly understand why it is so important that all kids be inspired to learn and keep learning past high school.”

Continuing to reflect about her newly honored teacher, Rebecca adds, “Will has created a ‘family feel’ to his classroom.  He has more than 80% attendance monthly, which is very impressive for a community school, and his class has a waiting list to enter.  One of the many reasons Will’s class is so successful is the way he develops relationships with the students and with their families.  Most days, after school, students stay to practice CAHSEE prep on the classroom computers and parents drop by to review their student’s progress, or just to talk.”

When reminiscing about his formative years, Will has fond school memories while growing up in Redding, California, “I was fortunate to attend public schools with dedicated teachers that inspired me to want to do the same.”  He quickly named-off a half dozen English, music, and history teachers who taught him at Enterprise High School, which he also proudly noted is a California Distinguished School.  “How lucky was I, to be raised in a small town in Northern California, with good teachers, and plenty of opportunity for hard-working individuals?”

And, how lucky are we at the COE to have Will??!!

Will, along with his 21 fellow distinguished TOY district representatives, will be honored at the upcoming Teacher of the Year Dinner Celebration on September 20, at the Concord Hilton.