East Edition Education Local News

Pioneer math instructor is Whittier teacher of the year

WHITTIER — For Pioneer High School math teacher and department co-chair Carolina DeHart, every school day is her favorite day. When DeHart arrives on campus every morning, she brims with pride and accomplishment, a confirmation that she has the best job in the world.

DeHart has spent nearly 30 years making a positive impact on Pioneer High students as a teacher and tutor, instilling high expectations while pushing students to attend college and pursue their dream careers.

For constantly demonstrating her love of teaching and helping students achieve their fullest potential, DeHart has been selected as the Whittier Union High School District’s 2019-20 Teacher of the Year.

“This is such an honor,” DeHart said. “I am standing on the shoulders of giants. I share this distinction with my math department colleagues, and we could not have achieved what we have without the support of our administration and, of course, our amazing students. It’s all about them.”

DeHart’s switch from engineering student to educator began while participating in East Los Angeles College’s Upward Bound academic support program as a tutor and teacher.

“The experience of helping students was so wonderful that I switched to teaching,” she said.

DeHart was hired as a calculus teacher at Pioneer in 1989. Over the years, she has taught every math class at Pioneer, from algebra and geometry to trigonometry and math analysis. In addition, she tutors three afternoons a week as part of Pioneer’s Prep Program.

“Carolina is fabulous. She’s known as the math mom,” Pioneer math teacher Yolanda Johnson said. “She has been my mentor since I started here. She is a guide, a facilitator and a team player and gives so much of her time to helping students and colleagues, always with a smile on her face.”

This summer, DeHart supervised a group of rising Pioneer seniors, dubbed the Calculus Boys, who created a syllabus for an accelerated AP Calculus AB class for 14 students. With DeHart’s guidance, the students taught the class themselves, condensing a full year’s curriculum into a six-week course.

“We wouldn’t have been able to do this if Ms. DeHart wasn’t willing to stay after school and tutor us,” Pioneer High senior Robert Sanchez said. “Ms. DeHart is more than just a mentor to us. She is an inspiration, and we adopted many aspects of her teaching approach into our own lesson plans.”

Through the efforts with the Calculus Boys, enough math students passed to ensure that Pioneer will be able to offer the more advanced AP Calculus BC class for the 2019-20 school year.

“Over the course of 30 years, Carolina DeHart has touched the lives and hearts of so many students and faculty members,” district Superintendent Martin Plourde said. “Carolina is a true epitome of Whittier Union’s ‘Whatever It Takes’ philosophy, and we are proud to have a teacher of such caliber be a part of our family. On behalf of the Board of Trustees and the entire district, I want to congratulate Carolina on this wonderful honor.”

Wave Staff Report