FUHSD recognizes exceptional students and faculty

Williams, Takahashi and Tang honored as Lynbrook employees


Diana Xu, Managing Editor

Applause and smiles filled the Lynbrook auditorium as the community celebrated individuals and groups who received awards as a result of their impact they have made at Lynbrook. Among those recipients, teacher Mike Williams and College and Career advisers Barb Takahashi and Katherine Tang received awards for the Certificated Employee of the Year and Classified Employee of the Year, respectively. At the annual FUHSD celebrational board meeting on Feb. 26, Lynbrook was revered for its excellence.

Every year, students and staff nominate potential award recipients. These nominees are later voted on by the School Site Council, a group of elected staff, students and parents who determine the final award recipients. All nominations require detailed explanations as to why they are nominated for the award, which are kept confidential. In addition, previous Employee of the Year recipients are not eligible to receive the award again.

Lynbrook’s Certificated Employee of the Year, Williams, not only teaches government and U.S. history, but also is involved in many other aspects on campus, such as being one of the junior class advisers of  Class of 2020.

Williams began his teaching career after working in radio production for a few years, and later construction management after that. Discontent with his career trajectory, Williams, who minored in U.S. history and majored in Art and Design, decided to pursue teaching based upon his educational and personal interests.

“I am very blessed with good family and friends, many of whom are on this campus, as well as a great job and great students,” Williams said. “Teaching is very rewarding. Life is about balance, and I have always believed that if you are going to do something for 40 or more hours a week, you should love it.”

Williams believes in being able to identify with and relate to students as young adults, holding them to high standards, but also introducing the curriculum through entertaining assignments and engaging lectures.

“[Mr. Williams] makes every student feel noticed and appreciated,” said junior Mia McCormack. “He finds a way to make all of his lessons fun and different. Even when we do something that may seem boring, like a lecture, he makes it engaging by telling jokes. I have had friendly conversations with him before, and I think he is a staff member I can trust.”

Also winning an award, Takahashi and Tang both received the Classified Employee of the Year award. The two can be found in the College and Career Center, working closely with students. In the fall, they work with the FUHSD College Fair, where representatives come to Lynbrook and share information about their college or university. Takahashi and Tang also primarily work with seniors in the fall, helping them with their essays, building college lists and brainstorming ideas for their applications. In the spring, the two hold workshops and begin talking to juniors about what they want to study in college, starting preparation for the next cycle of students.

With many things in common, such as each having three kids that all graduated from Lynbrook, Takahashi and Tang’s dynamic is seamless: the pair take half the days of the week in the College and Career Center, overlapping on Wednesdays to catch up and hand things off. They do many parts of their job together, but oftentimes each person will take the lead for one event, while the other person takes the lead for another, in order to maintain an ideal balance.

“When I first came to Lynbrook, [Takahashi and Tang] made me feel really comfortable,” senior Jason Dong said. “I have talked to Takahashi about colleges, summer camps and even places I should visit when traveling to other countries. [Tang] is always really happy when I see her. I know she spends a huge amount of time reviewing essays for students. I think their dedication is inspiring.”
Having worked at Lynbrook for six years, Takahashi was initially inspired to go into education because of her love for working with students and visiting colleges; her role as a college counselor allows her to do both. Takahashi hopes to help reduce stress for students during the college application process as many factors weigh into their decisions.

Tang, originally a computer science major, actually started working as a college counselor at Lynbrook because of Takahashi, who knew Tang was interested in the field. This year being Tang’s third year at Lynbrook, her favorite part of her job is working with students and helping them define what it is they are looking for in their college experience and opening their eyes to different possibilities.

“Sometimes students will come in and we will answer questions and so forth, but sometimes they will write a note afterward,” said Tang. “You feel like you did not do that much, but to them, it meant something. That is really touching when they write a really sweet message about how we helped them in some way.”

Outside of school, both Takahashi and Tang love to travel. While their jobs do give them the opportunity to visit other colleges, this summer, Takahashi will travel to Scotland and Tang plans to go to Southeast Asia.

Not only did the board meeting celebrate specific employees, but it also recognized the variety of people on campus who dedicate themselves to creating a safe and comfortable environment where Lynbrook students have the space for personal growth. In addition, the community recognized other programs, individuals and groups that have made a lasting impact on Lynbrook: PE Inclusive, a PE class that fosters connections between mainstream and Academic Community and Transition (ACT) learners, senior and Regeneron finalist Amol Singh, seniors and Poster students Brandon Qin and Patricia Wei, retiring teachers Paul Willson and Jon Penner and senior and Foundation student Sandy Matsuda.

The 2019 FUHSD board meeting and celebration was filled with sentiment and congratulations as students, parents, teachers and other community members proudly watched their deserving loved ones accept their awards. At its closing, the celebration concluded with a reception, which allowed event goers to socialize and eat before the night came to an end.