CUSD High School Teacher of the Year 2021 is from San Clemente High School
By Elysse James
A caravan of school officials stopped at San Clemente High School on Wednesday, Feb. 10, during a day of surprise announcements to bring the news that a San Clemente High School teacher is one of three CUSD Teachers of the Year 2021.
Marguerite Westling of San Clemente High School received the honor of being named the High School Teacher of the Year for 2021.
Westling, an English/language arts teacher, has fostered community service in the classroom through the concept of equity throughout her 33 years of teaching.
“Her commitment to making the world a safer more inclusive place for all people is evident in the atmosphere she creates in her classroom and the way she interacts with students and colleagues,” said Wendy Washington, CUSD High School Teacher of the Year 2015.
Her classes often bring in the most toys for the annual Spark of Love toy drive. Westling credits her appeal to her students’ empathy and desire to help all children feel special over the holidays, as well as for all parents to feel as though they can provide for their children, she wrote.
“She is able to challenge her students academically encouraging them to strengthen their critical thinking without making them feel overwhelmed. This balance of compassion and academic rigor has served her students well,” Washington said.
Westling also taught a Tolerance class and had her students get involved with STEPS students with special needs. Many of her students went on to join the Best Buddies program where they pair with a student with special needs. She has been a faculty sponsor for clubs like Be a Hero, Become a Donor; Pennies for Pups; Pianos for a Purpose; the Tolerance Club, and more.
“My biggest priority in teaching is for all students to feel comfortable coming to my class,” Westling said. “I want them all to feel heard and respected. I treat them the way I would want to be treated.”
“When I walk into her classroom, students are engaged as she communicates, captivates, and motivates. In other words, she is one of those truly gifted teachers who cares about students and who can adjust instruction and activities to meet the needs of all of her students,” said Principal Chris Carter.