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Golden Arrow

The student news site of Woodbridge High School

Golden Arrow

The student news site of Woodbridge High School

Golden Arrow

Woodbridge High’s Kristie Donavan Named IUSD Teacher of the Year

After teaching at Woodbridge High for over 14 years, Kristie Donavan continues to inspire students and staff with her dedication to empowering the next generation of mathematicians
Ashlynn Do
Math teacher Kristie Donavan assists senior Jana Elnashar with a differential equation during class.

Math teacher Kristie Donavan is recognized by Irvine Unified School District (IUSD) as high school teacher of the year, assisting many students and mentors at the district through her philosophies and teaching programs.

“I was very surprised and honored to be recognized by my peers, my administrators [and] the district office,” Donavan said.

Donavan has been teaching for over 17 years. She initially worked at the district office for three years but has been teaching at Woodbridge High for over 14 years.

In 2010, Donavan transitioned from her position at the district office to teaching in the classroom out of a desire to interact directly with students. Since her transition back into teaching, she reflects on the times with gratitude and credits her students’ passion and enduring curiosity for math.

Senior Jana Elnashar praises Donavan’s dedication to her students, prioritizing their success and engagement.

“She is always trying to find new ways to help [students] understand math, taking time out of her day to…help [them] learn to use math skills in the future,” Elnashar said.

Donavan’s teaching philosophy centers on students learning through collaborating with her peers. Donavan lets her students work independently or in groups before she assists them.

“I really believe in the philosophy of learning by doing. You really have to kind of take the reins and work through [math],” Donavan said.

While motivating many students and staff, Donavan hopes students own up to their own success.

“She is kind of that forward thinker and shares her knowledge not just at Woodbridge but with everyone and in the district,” math teacher Christy Sterner said.

Starting in 2008, Donavan has led Woodbridge High’s math department in transitioning to standards-based grading in all math courses from Math 1 to Advanced Placement (AP) Calculus. One of the math courses, AP Calculus BC, is the most challenging, yet Donavan demystifies calculus and makes it fun for students.

“AP Calculus BC sounds like this big intense class, [but] I wanted to make sure that it didn’t feel that way,” Donavan said.

While managing math courses, Donavan teaches students multiple math programs to enhance their math capabilities, including the Math Foundations course for students needing additional guidance. She also hosts calculus parties after school to work on math with students and Euler’s Helping Hands, an after-school tutoring club, occurring every Wednesday after school in her classroom, K109.

Donavan notes how she teaches students from Math Foundations in a way that is different from typical math classes.

“I try to teach it in a way that is different from what they’re getting in their typical math classes, because oftentimes people grow to dislike math so I try to teach it in a different way that doesn’t feel like math that [students have] seen before,” Donavan said.

The commitment of Donavan as a teacher allows her to bring out the best in her students, as she has been a finalist in the Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching Program twice in three years. She recently received an award from the United States government for the highest honor of being one of the seven educators of science, government, mathematics, engineering and computer science teaching from kindergarten through 12th grade.

Looking upon the future of her teaching career, Donavan aims to teach future instructors how to teach math in a classroom.

With encouragement from her students and fellow teachers, this year’s IUSD teacher of the year is eager to continue helping her students and foster an engaging learning environment for years to come.

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About the Contributors
Melody Liao
Melody Liao, News Editor
Hey everyone! My name is Melody Liao, and I am thrilled to be your News Editor this year. As my first and final year in Golden Arrow, I aim to unite many teachers and students by allowing everyone to have a voice and feature Woodbridge's significant events. I hope my writing will bring you the knowledge on what Woodbridge offers. As a senior at Woodbridge High School, I am a board member of various clubs and a chamber singer in the Woodbridge choir. In my free time, I spend hours reading romance and fantasy books. If you have any questions related to Golden Arrow or would like to chat with me personally, do not hesitate to reach out to me on instagram, @mwlleo! This year will be our year, Warriors! :)
Ashlynn Do
Ashlynn Do, Writer/Photographer
Hi Warriors! My name is Ashlynn Do and I'll be joining the Golden Arrow this year as a staff writer. I'm looking forward to representing different voices on campus and helping people and groups share their stories. I can't wait to work with the rest of the Golden Arrow staff to bring you lots of great stories this year!