Umabe and Hargraves named Teacher and Employee of the Year

Japanese teacher Sato Umabe won Teacher of the Year and ASB Accounting Assistant Patricia Hargraves won Classified Employee of the Year on Feb. 27 and 26, respectively.
“I feel very honored, especially among all the hardworking teachers here at Torrey Pines,” Umabe said. “A lot of teachers sent me congratulatory emails and personally congratulated me, and I’m very honored to have been selected.”
As TPHS’ employee and teacher of the year, Hargraves and Umabe will now be in the running for SDUHSD’s employee and  teacher of the year. The winners of the district competition will go on to compete in the countywide contest. The award winners are decided by vote among all site teachers and employees.
“I think, as usual, our staff made a smart choice and picked two very deserving and dedicated Falcons,” Principal Rob Coppo said.
Umabe has taught at TPHS since 2004, but this is the first time she has won the award. In his first of two emails, Coppo announced Umabe as Teacher of the Year, citing the new Zen garden constructed under her supervision and the regular recognition her students receive in various competitions and contests.  
“[Umabe] is passionate about her job and the overall well-being of each and every one of her students,” Chelsea Jones (12), a former student of Umabe’s, said.  “Japanese not only became the class I looked forward to the most, it became the class I was most passionate about because of her sheer will to teach until students understood.”
Umabe teaches both the language and the Japanese culture and encourages students to attend Japanese language or culture competitions and festivals. Traditional Japanese items like a kimono and geta sandals  can be found in her classroom.
“As a language teacher, I think the culture is a part of the language,” Umabe said. “You have to be [immersed] so I like to incorporate the cultural aspect so that students will learn. Students take Japanese not just to learn the language, but also because they’re interested in the culture.”
Hargraves, who has worked at TPHS since 1996,  declined to comment on her award.
Coppo, however, did comment on her work with ASB through the student store and organizing senior activities in his congratulatory email.
“The award went to exactly the right person,” ASB Spirit Commissioner Sean Circosta (12) said. “Patricia is one of the most hardworking people at Torrey Pines and the school wouldn’t be standing without her.”
Cox will televise “A Salute to Teachers” on Sept. 15, where the five 2019 San Diego County Teachers of the Year will be announced.

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