Cabrillo High School teacher Chris Ladwig was selected as Lompoc Unified School District’s teacher of the year, district leaders announced Tuesday night during a meeting in which four other educators also were recognized.

Ladwig, who teaches science and helps with the operation of the school’s on-campus aquarium, will go on to contend for Santa Barbara County teacher of the year. Recognized alongside Ladwig at Tuesday’s meeting of the LUSD board of education were fellow LUSD teacher of the year finalists Jamin Bean, from La Honda STEAM Academy; Rebecca Ingrahm, from Maple High School; and Greg Eisen, from Cabrillo High School.

The board and district administrators also honored first-year Fillmore Elementary School teacher Jake West, who was recently presented with the Distinguished New Educator Award by the Santa Barbara County Education Office (SBCEO).

The Teacher of the Year Program is organized by the SBCEO and aims to recognize exemplary educators.

Kathi Froemming, LUSD’s assistant superintendent of education services, introduced Ladwig at Tuesday’s meeting by sharing a personal story meant to highlight his dedication to his job and his students.

“Chris is a grant-writer extraordinaire,” Froemming said.

“How do I know that? Well, recently, I think he sent me a 35- or 36-page, single-spaced grant and just wanted me to review it,” she said, eliciting laughter from the audience.

Ladwig also couldn’t help but laugh at the anecdote, though he shrugged his shoulders and noted, “It was over break.”

A 2001 Cabrillo graduate, Ladwig began working in LUSD in 2011, first at Vandenberg Middle School, where he started that school’s aerospace engineering program. In 2014, he moved to Cabrillo, where he teaches ninth-grade science and tourism classes and is a staff adviser for the very same aquarium at which he was once a student curator.

He's also a member of a science educators committee representing a region that includes Santa Barbara County.

"I am so thrilled to have this opportunity to acknowledge all your effort on behalf of this district," Froemming said to Ladwig. "It is truly valued and you're integral to excellence." 

Also honored as finalists for LUSD’s teacher of the year:

  • Jamin Bean: She began her LUSD career as a tutor in 1998 and became a primary teacher at Hapgood Elementary School before moving on to La Honda. She has held several offices in La Honda’s PTA and been a member of several site committees and councils. “The beauty is watching Jamin work her magic,” Bree Valla, an LUSD administrator and former La Honda principal, said while introducing Bean. “When she is in the classroom, she’s corralling 4-year-olds who have never been in a school setting before and she can get them to do such amazing things. … It doesn’t matter what is needed at the school site; Jamin steps up and delivers, both in the classroom and outside.”
  • Greg Eisen: He has been a marine science teacher at Cabrillo High School since 1992 and “developed a learn-by-doing philosophy which he continues to enthusiastically embrace today,” LUSD Assistant Superintendent John Karbula said in his introduction of Eisen. The longtime teacher was selected as director of the Cabrillo High aquarium in 2004 and as Cabrillo’s science department chair in 2005. Among previous awards he’s received are the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics’ Science teacher of the year in 2006, and the Vandenberg Air Force Base Association’s teacher of the year in 2007.
  • Rebecca Ingrahm: A former LUSD student, she is the pioneer of Maple’s Business Career Technical Education pathway, which started this year. In addition to her business-related education, she also owns her own marketing business, “which allows her to bring real-world experience to the classroom,” Brian Jaramillo, the district’s director of pupil services, said while introducing Ingrahm. “Rebecca recognizes the need for more career- and college-readiness in high school education. She strives to empower students to have a plan after high school and encourages students to recognize and reach their potential.”

Before concluding Tuesday night’s brief ceremony honoring the educators, Froemming noted that LUSD has had great representation, particularly recently, at county award ceremonies. The district had three Crystal Apple Award winners last year, she pointed out, and two of the county’s three Performing Arts teacher of the year recipients have come from Lompoc schools.

“We can be very proud of the caliber of teachers that come to Lompoc,” Froemming said. “It’s an out-of-the-way community and we’re just very excited to celebrate [our] teachers.”

Willis Jacobson covers the city of Lompoc for Lee Central Coast Newspapers. Follow him on Twitter @WJacobsonLR.


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