PASO ROBLES – Paso Robles High School Teacher and Cross Country/Track Assistant Coach Jon-Paul Ewing was named Teacher of the Year at the 2018 PRJUSD Employee of the Year reception held at Pear Valley Winery Tuesday, May 1.
Other award winners were: Classified Employee of the Year, Dana Holt, PRHS; Administrator of the Year, Nate Maas, Principal LHS/IHS; Rookie of the Year, Sabrina Hamilton, teacher at Flamson Middle School; and Substitute of the Year, Michelle Rogers, The Arts Academy at Bauer Speck.
Paso Robles High school arranged a big reveal of Jon-Paul Ewing’s Teacher of the Year award. Some Ewing’s cross country runners hid in his classroom and surprised him with some PRHS flags and his family showed up for the announcement.
“The world was spinning and I was like, ‘What?!’” Ewing said. As a PRHS tradition, the staff sang a song, mixing the lyrics in with Ewing’s name. They presented a slide show, superimposing Ewing’s face on funny images on PowerPoint.
Jon-Paul Ewing has been an upper-grade science teacher at PRHS for 13 years. He started teaching in 2005 at Atascadero Junior High, and began teaching Earth Science and Biology as well as English language learners/bilingual Science at PRHS in 2006. In 2008 he took over PRHS’s Anatomy program. In addition to teaching upper grade Anatomy/Physiology, he has been an assistant cross country and track coach (working with his former coach, Ivan Huff) at PRHS for 12 years.
Ewing has been a big player in jump-starting the flagship science program, the PRHS Field Studies Collaborative, a District-funded field research program unique to the school and one-of-a-kind in the state. The program works with about six different public agencies to offer field studies courses. In August, Ewing is taking a group of 16 selected students on a week-long field botany study on Santa Cruz Island to do field botany studies, and he has gotten his students involved in several other collaborations, including Climate Change Field Biology Research at Joshua Tree and Marine Intertidal Research, collecting tidepool data for a large database with County researchers and universities like UCSC and UCSB.
Paso Robles High Principal Eric Martinez said, “He does a great job for us. He wears multiple hats on our campus. It’s crazy to think of how much he does for our school and for our kids, and he does it at an extremely high level. He’s definitely well deserving of the Teacher of the Year for our district.”
Ewing is a Paso high alumnus of 1999, a former PRHS cross country and track runner, and Cal Poly double-major of the Ecology and Systematic Biology and Biological Science programs. He married his Paso High School sweetheart, Gaylene Ewing (whom he took to the PRHS prom), also a science teacher at PRHS. The Ewings have a 2-year-old son named Jupiter.
Ewing said became a teacher because he “likes people” and because he wanted to work in a career where he could make a difference.
“I love talking to kids and opening up their eyes to things,” he said. “It’s one of the best feelings in the world.”
Students and teachers know Ewing as a trustworthy confidant and extremely engaged teacher and coach. The way he reaches his students, he said, is by treating them with honor and respect.
“They are my co-workers, to be honest,” Ewing said. “I work with them more than I do any other teacher. We all share this space together, this classroom, and we have the same goal: for them to learn the material.”
“They have their role as a learner. I have my role as a teacher. I have to come prepared to do my best for them as a teacher and they have to do their best for me. It’s a two-way street,” he said, adding that he tries to get to know who they are, some coming from rough family situations and economical challenges. He tries to “be present” for them in the 55 minutes per day that he sees them. “I’m constantly checking myself to remind myself that I don’t know their story. They could be sleeping in their car. They might not have a house that they go home to.”
Dana Holt, Discipline Clerk at Paso Robles High School was awarded Classified Employee of the Year for going beyond her job duties, providing emotional support for students and staff. “She’s also one of those pillars on campus,” Martinez said. “Her job is not an easy job. She does a few things regarding student safety and student discipline. She handles those situations calmly. She supports our administrations like no other. When she’s gone, you can definitely feel the void. She’s one of those folks that we’re so glad she’s on our team and we can’t foresee how things would run without her. She’s dynamic.”
Nate Maas, Principal at Liberty High School/Independence High School, was awarded Manager of the Year.
“Nate is the ultimate collaborator,” his nomination stated. “He is always willing to listen to others’ ideas and allows his staff and students to try new things without fear of failure. He listens with an open heart and open mind.”
Rookie of the Year went to Sabrina Hamilton, English Language Development teacher at Flamson Middle School. Her nomination stated, “She has a love for teaching and her students, and it shows in everything she’s done in the classroom. She is always willing to lend a helping hand.”
The Arts Academy at Bauer Speck’s Michelle Rogers won for Substitute of the Year. Her nomination form said, “She is always ready and willing to do whatever is needed in the service of our students. She is calm and upbeat with high expectations of them.”
You may reach Reporter Beth Giuffre at [email protected] for questions and/or feedback.
Photos contributed by PRJUSD
Teacher of the Year: Jon-Paul Ewing, PRHS
Classified Employee of the Year: Dana Holt, PRHS
Administrator of the Year: Nate Maas, Principal LHS/IHS
Rookie of the Year: Sabrina Hamilton, teacher at Flamson Middle School
Substitute of the Year: Michelle Rogers, The Arts Academy at Bauer Speck
Teacher of the Year Jon-Paul Ewing with his son, Jupiter
Friday Night Lights with Teacher of the Year Jon-Paul Ewing and his PRHS Cross Country Team
Teacher of the Year Jon-Paul Ewing poses with his PRHS CIF qualifying runners.
Teacher of the Year Jon-Paul Ewing with 11th grade students Connor Lacy and Kendall Caruana during a lesson in dissection.