Alyssa Navapanich

Position: Art Teacher

School: Del Sur Elementary School

School District: Poway Unified School District

City, State: San Diego, California

About the Nominee: Alyssa Navapanich was nominated by a friend, Tracy Beckhusen. Mrs. Navapanich is not only an art teacher by title, but to the very core of who she is as a person. She loves art, and she finds creative, fun ways to inspire her students to embrace the beauty of art in their everyday lives. The art program at Del Sur, which she created 8 years ago, serves students in preschool through fifth grade. It is fluid and flexible; she changes her lesson plans each year so they accommodate what's currently going on in the community, art world and classroom. She works closely with the classroom teachers to integrate curriculum components into her art lessons, and the students get to learn in an environment that is hands-on and fun!

In addition to teaching in the classroom, Mrs. Navapanich has facilitated several family art nights. She has also created craft projects for Heritage Nights and regularly submits her students' art work for recognition. Several years ago, she and her students created huge murals for the stairwells at Del Sur. This year, they finished a wings mural based on the "What Lifts You" public art project done by Kelsey Montague. It is stunningly beautiful and inspiring.

Mrs. Navapanich works tirelessly at bettering her community. This year, she began working in the homework club for fifth grade students. The students would tell her how hungry they were and that they couldn't concentrate, so she brings them snack bars and has organized other teachers to help in that effort. When she learned that some of the students did not have books at home to read, she collected some and distributed them to the students. She is currently working on collecting more books for students in a low income apartment complex and will be hosting a book party in January near Del Sur.

Mrs. Navapanich does not consider what she does her "job," but her life. Other teachers will frequently ask her "how do you manage to get such beautiful work from children so young?" Mrs. Navapanich always says that she doesn't know, but her innate love and passion for children and art is a special and beautiful combination that "magically" brings out the best in all of her students!