San Marcos High School teacher James DeVries has been named 2010-2011 County Distinguished Educator. County Superintendent William J. Cirone awarded him at the monthly meeting of the County Board of Education on Thursday, June 10. The title is merit-based, not annual, and described by Cirone in a press release “as a means of paying tribute to the successes and dedication teachers display every day.”
The title’s selection committee — made up of teachers, administrators, PTAs, and school boards — awarded Marilyn Garza, a middle-school science teacher, the annual County Teacher of the Year award in May, but they expressed in a press release that they wished to recognize DeVries’s achievements as well.
DeVries is a 12th grade government, economics, and history teacher, and in his eleven years at San Marcos High School, he has brought about many changes. When he began teaching, said Cirone, there was only one section of AP Government and no AP Economics classes. His first AP Economics course resulted in 33 of his 34 students passing the AP exam. There are now three sections of AP Government, AP Microeconomics, and AP Macroeconomics at the school.
According to Cirone, DeVries has led Advanced Placement workshops statewide, developed ethics forums with local business leaders, and taken his students on tours throughout Europe. He has also encouraged his students to partake in community service with his Kids Helping Kids program, which has students support a local charity, the Unity Shoppe, through self-made fundraisers and marketing. So far, said Cirone, his program has provided $300,000 to the Unity Shoppe. Former student Nicholas Manzo was quoted in a press release as saying DeVries gets “students to see beyond their textbooks and become active, contributing members in their community.”
DeVries, continued Cirone, has garnered praise from parents, students, and educators alike. Parents Patty and Doug Zylstra have described DeVries in a press release as a person who “makes an impact on you that will last forever.” Assistant Principal Ed Behrens wrote that he has never known “another educator who has had a more positively profound impact with students than Jamie [DeVries].” In addition to the County Distinguished Educator title, he has earned the San Marcos Royal Service Award, the California Parent Teacher Student Association Honorary Service Award, and the 2010-2011 San Marcos High School Teacher of the Year.