Lake Los Angeles- Challenger Middle School (CMS) – Pictured is Holly Hansen, chosen as Teacher of the Year by her peers for the school year 2019-2020. Holly is a Special Education Teacher.
Holly was an Instructional Assistant for 5 years and has been a Special Education Teacher for 20 years all of it at Challenger Middle school.
Holly related, “I was a single mother on assistance when I returned to school to make the jump from welfare, a single mom with 3 boys to raise to becoming a teacher.
“How we got to Lake Los Angeles was my then husband won on the TV program The Price is Right and we were able to buy a house here. Our kids went through school here. I decided my past could not dictate my future. You never know the circumstances of any family. What was my alternative? Answer: go to school. I earned my degree at Cal State Bakersfield at Antelope Valley College in 1999.
“Nobody gets there alone. I have been inspired by my dad, Lyle Bell, and various special ed colleagues such as Gina Corn, Ken Tapola, Wanda Watts, Stacie Wheeler, David Johnson, Janet Backe, Susan Gregory, Trish Parker, and Jackson Jacob. Without their help and guidance over the years, there would have been no way that I could have been a success in my profession as a special ed teacher. It absolutely took a village for me to become Teacher of the Year.
“My sons, Christian Hansen, Richard Hansen, and Kevin Hansen gave up a lot during their formative years to enable me to go to school, work as an Instructional Assistant/Teacher, and raise them as best I could under the circumstances. I am truly grateful for their sacrifice.”
“My years here have been wonderful. We have a family atmosphere, we are a tight group, it is like my family. People here helped guide me through it all. They helped me to become Teacher of the Year. I did not do it by myself. I am Teacher of the Year here at CMS because of a few people.”
When asked how she responded to being chosen, Holly said, “I was completely and utterly shocked and humbled to even be considered. So many amazing teachers are here and to put me in that group? Me?! Holly Hansen? I was so surprised!”
Holly is a study in perseverance and determination.
Chosen by her peers to be Teacher of the Year 2020 is Ms. Traca Hasam who teaches 2nd grade at VSG. She has taught 2nd grade at VSG for 5 years.
She said, “I really like 2nd grade teaching and I really love it here at Wilsona. I have taught in different public schools and private schools as well but this is where I love it. My students, their parents and our staff are all together, like family and I really like that.”
Traca hails from Oklahoma where she did substitute teaching and started her 23-year teaching career. She graduated from Oklahoma Christian University. “When I came to Lake Los Angeles, the District honored my certificate from Oklahoma and I started teaching.
I appreciate the difference in demographics here. I especially enjoy working with new language learners and seeing them thrive in a new skill. I also teach Latino parents literacy classes which is like ESL. I get to see them improve their skills. We teach parents how to read books to their children while improving their own language skills.
“Being chosen Teacher of the Year was a surprise. I feel very honored to be chosen. We have a wonderfully talented staff at WSD and I feel so blessed to be chosen by them.”
Ms. Hasam was also voted Wilsona District Teacher of the Year.