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Rotary of Santa Barbara Honors Washington Elementary Teacher April Van Wickle

The downtown Rotary Club of Santa Barbara selected April Van Wickle as its outstanding elementary teacher of the year.

April Van Wickle
April Van Wickle

Van Wickle teaches at Washington Elementary School in the Santa Barbara Unified School District.

Since 1986, the club has honored outstanding teachers from South Coast schools each year. It awards a high school, junior high, elementary and special education teacher with a certificate and a $1,000 check to spend on classroom needs.

Van Wickle was recognized at the club’s luncheon meeting Dec. 12.

“This kind of continuing support for local educators is especially meaningful and rewarding,” said Santa Barbara County Superintendent of Schools Bill Cirone, whose office coordinates the recognition with the Rotary Club of Santa Barbara. “Showcasing the exemplary efforts of classroom teachers makes a special impact on students and their schools. The annual Rotary awards provide recognition and resources for outstanding teachers to enhance the classroom experience.”

“I have been impressed with April Van Wickle from the moment I met her. April is an amazing teacher and thoughtful colleague,” Washington Elementary School Principal Sierra Loughridge said. “It is a joy to be in her class. Her enthusiasm for learning and her own curiosity are infectious.

“April inspires her students to read, write, calculate and explore. She engages all students. As a result, their academic abilities and social development are burgeoning. Her class is inclusive, active, and happy. She purposefully prepares lessons, communicates effectively with parents and is a problem solver.

“Under her watch students are safe, valued, and learning. It is an honor and privilege to nominate her for this outstanding teacher award. Her hard work and dedication are truly appreciated and she is everyone's favorite teacher. Thank you, Mrs. Van Wickle, for all you have done for so many little Wildcats!”

“I sincerely believe in a child-centered approach to teaching that honors every student,” Van Wickle said. “I enjoy establishing a relationship with each student, helping them discover their strengths. I hope to help them find their motivation to succeed. I enjoy keeping current with educational topics, like brain research, learning, and of course, common core. I am happy that I still enjoy teaching, after almost 30 years.”

"Everyone loves April and after many years as a teacher she is still in love with teaching,” said Brian Sarvis, chairman of the Teacher Recognition Committee of the Rotary Club of Santa Barbara.

Van Wickle has been an elementary teacher, mostly second grade, but has taught various combinations for 25 years. She graduated from Cal State-Long Beach, majoring in educational psychology, with a biology emphasis, and started her teaching career in Long Beach, teaching third and fourth grade for three years.

The Rotary Club of Santa Barbara meets at Fess Parker’s Doubletree Resort in Santa Barbara for lunch from noon to 1:30 p.m. on Fridays. Recipients of the club’s Teacher Recognition Awards are made with the assistance of the Teacher Programs and Support Department of the Santa Barbara County Education Office. Click here for more information.

— Kris Bergstrom is the communications director for the Santa Barbara County Education Office.

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