Laura Holk

Position: AP English Language and Composition Teacher

School: Corona del Mar High School

School District: Newport-Mesa Unified School District

City, State: Newport Beach, California

About the Nominee: Laura Holk was nominated by a former student, Brian Dunn.

Ms. Holk is a LifeChanger at Corona del Mar High School because of her ability to connect to and engage with students. She is continuously committed to providing students with a safe area where they can express themselves. Ms. Holk finds a way to reach every student, regardless of their socioeconomic backgrounds, and pushes them to strive for more. Through her leadership as an advisor for Corona del Mar High School (CdM)'s yearbook, Ebbtide, as well as the CdM newspaper and news channel, The Trident, she has provided additional opportunities for her students to learn skills that they will carry with them for the rest of their lives.

Ms. Holk has forever changed the life of her nominator and former student, Brian Dunn. She was his 12th grade English Composition teacher in her first year at CdM. Whether it was luck or her rookie status at the school, she was assigned a challenging group of students. Ms. Holk was unfazed, approaching each day with the goal of reaching another student. On a daily basis, Mr. Dunn watched her approach each student as an individual. She understood that what might excite and engage one student could prove the opposite in another. Ms. Holk found the middle ground between authority and friend in a way that connected her to students, prompting them to engross themselves in her class. While the time Mr. Dunn had her as a teacher was short, it forever ingrained a simple concept in him: if you want to have the most impact, it takes throwing away cookie-cutter strategies. Relate to the individual and their personal trajectory in order to find common ground where mutual understanding can happen. Mr. Dunn is now in his 10th year volunteering as a youth and high school coach. He carries Ms. Holk’s understanding that no two people are the same every time he steps on the field. Any success he has had as a coach relates directly back to her teachings. Over the last 10 years, he has encountered hundreds of families and young athletes. While most of them will likely never know it, their lives were changed by a lesson from Ms. Holk as well.

While Mr. Dunn's story is singular, Ms. Holk has connected with countless students in the same way. Through her leadership at The Trident and Ebbtide, she has opened opportunities for students to get involved and learn what goes into producing different forms of media. She inspires students by giving them channels where their voices can be heard, offering them a positive outlet to reach those in their community.