Corona del Mar’s (CdM) very own Laura Holk has been nominated for the LifeChanger of the Year award.
The National Life Foundation gives the LifeChanger award to educators that have been nominated by their former students. These alums credit their nominees with making a significant impact on them and ultimately contributing to their success as a student or as a person.
Former CdM student and current high school coach Brian Dunn nominated Holk because of the lasting impression she left on him, writing that he “carries Ms. Holk’s understanding that no two people are the same every time he steps on the field.”
“When Brian first asked me,” Holk said, “I was touched and honored, especially because he remembered me because I first taught him in the 2003-2004 school year. For him to come back and tell me that something I taught him had a profound effect on him just validated why I went into teaching: to help students find themselves and their path in life. As a teacher, we do not get much confirmation as to the effect that we have on students. Knowing that I made a positive impact on him in the classroom made me feel like I did something right.”
The grand prize winner gets $5,000 for themselves and $5,000 for their school, with lesser amounts available for semifinalists and award winners. In order to do win, the teachers need to garner votes once they are nominated. Students can also leave comments on the teacher’s page and share personal experiences that prove the nominee’s excellence as a teacher.
Holk attributes her success as a teacher to the teachers that she herself had throughout her education.
“I was lucky because I had a very unique master teacher when I was getting my teaching credential, and she helped me realize that ‘they don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.’” This chain of personal connections between teacher and student is essential to creating the next generation of educators, and Holk strengthens these connections every day.
“I believe an important aspect of teaching is having open communication between students and teachers. At the end of the day,” Holk said. “I always reflect on how I can improve my classroom.”
She also emphasizes the need to go beyond the curriculum in order to ensure the students can have a true understanding of the material and how it relates to them.
“I teach English, yes, but because of the subject matter it allows me to establish more relationships with the students in the way that you kind of have to strip off that mask when they read literature and open up more,” said Holk. “Sure, it’s about reading and comprehension and all those academic terms, but I also think it ties into self-discovery, and so I feel blessed to be able to help students maybe discover something about themselves they didn’t know.”
While many students know Holk as their English teacher, many may not know that she is also the advisor for our Trident family, as well as yearbook.
Senior Hannah Schoenbaum describes the effect Holk has had on her.
“I have had the pleasure of learning about journalism and growing in my personal strengths and abilities under Ms. Holk’s guidance for the past four years. All of my favorite moments as a CdM student have been in her journalism class, and I am so thankful to her for all the incredible experiences,” she said.
Fellow senior and second-year journalism student Jina Lee also appreciates Ms. Holk’s teaching style.
“Holk allows Trident students to express ourselves and improve on our writing skills. I have been lucky enough to have her both as a Trident advisor and as an English teacher and I am a much better student because of it. She is always a balanced teacher and makes sure to create personal connections with all of her students. Even after one mere year with her I felt as though I had known her forever,” she said.
Holk has undoubtedly made CdM a tighter community and allows students to be themselves every time they walk into her classroom. Winners will be announced in spring 2017.
Everyone at CdM wishes Ms. Holk the best of luck.