California’s International Baccalaureate association has awarded Inderkum High School three prestigious statewide awards, including Diploma Programme Educator of the Year and the Outstanding Community Service Award for a student in IB’s Middle Years Programme.
Principal Dan Motherspaw and IB leaders Jessica Downing and Theresa Quinby led a small group of well-wishers in announcing the exciting news by making surprise visits this morning to the classrooms of each Tiger winner, chosen from IB programs offered by dozens of schools in the California Association of IB World Schools (CAWS).
Inderkum Teacher Richard Weaver will receive an engraved plaque and a $1,000 cash award from CAWS. Tenth-grader Sidharth Gopisetty will be honored with a $250 cash award for himself and $250 for Inderkum High. New IB teacher Tristan Bernie was California’s only winner of a Middle Years Programme Teacher Training Award for exceptional potential. CAWS will pay for her to receive additional IB training costing up to $2,500 this summer in Lake Tahoe.
Gopisetty’s recognition marks the third consecutive year that an Inderkum student has won a top CAWS award: Mikaela Carrillo was named the top Diploma Programme student in 2017, and two Tigers received major IB awards last year in the Middle Years Programme category — Isabel Gatdula was Northern California’s top student and Sabina Neves was statewide winner for community service.
Gopisetty, only 15, has a long list of community service accomplishments, including creating a UNICEF Club at Inderkum, spearheading a drive to help Butte County fire victims, raising more than $1,000 for Polycystic Kidney Disease Research, and assisting the Sacramento Food Bank and Family Services. He also has been an exemplary student at Inderkum and an active member of the local library’s Teen Advisory Board.
“Sidharth Gopisetty is perpetually cheerful and seems to be a natural-born leader,” Inderkum IB leaders wrote in nominating him for the CAWS award. “Looking a little deeper, it may be better to describe him as having an inborn desire to serve others, with leadership skills that have been honed through an abundance of experience, impressive for someone only midway through his sophomore year.”
Asked why he commits so much time to community service, Gopisetty said he enjoys helping the community and “I think it’s a moral duty to help other people.” He hopes to make a career of helping others by becoming a neurosurgeon or orthopedic surgeon.
IB is a world-renowned academic program that strives to develop inquiring, knowledgeable, and caring young people who help to create a better and more peaceful world through intercultural understanding and respect. IB emphasizes 10 core tenets, or “Learner Profiles,” urging students to be: Inquirers, Knowledgeable, Thinkers, Communicators, Principled, Open-Minded, Caring, Risk-Takers, Balanced, and Reflective.
NUSD offers a K-12 continuum of IB-related classes, starting with the Primary Years Programme at H. Allen Hight Elementary through the 5th grade. Students have the opportunity to participate in IB’s Middle Years Programme (MYP), grades 6-10, at Natomas Middle School and Inderkum High. The final and most prestigious step on the IB ladder is the Diploma Programme (DP) for 11th– and 12th-graders. Paso Verde School currently is a candidate to join that continuum by offering PYP.
Weaver teaches Inderkum DP Theory of Knowledge and Information Technology in a Global Society courses, as well as additional MYP classes. In CAWS nomination documents, IB leaders wrote that “his students deeply respect him as an educator and truly like him as a person, a combination not found in many educators.”
Weaver’s nomination was supplemented by quotes from students, one of whom described him as “exceptional at balancing academic focus and personal engagement.” Another added, “His ability to teach using a variety of methods to address all students’ needs in an organized and timely manner make him a phenomenal teacher. This is paralleled only by his kindness and amicable transactions with students.”
Weaver said he savors the magic moments when ideas take root inside students’ heads. “A lot of these ideas are acorns, but they can grow into oaks and all types of things,” he said. “That potentiality, and helping create and foster and push that potentiality, is a thing that gives me worth, value and purpose.”
Weaver is not the only Inderkum teacher ever to be named top teacher statewide by CAWS. Karen Taylor won last year in the Middle Years Programme category.
Inderkum’s third CAWS winner this year, Tristan Bernie, was described in nomination documents as a dedicated instructor, committed both to Inderkum and the IB program. She works collaboratively with colleagues to align instruction, and she has developed a strong rapport with her students, IB leaders wrote. “She has developed a classroom culture that promotes academic discourse and collaboration,” they added, “and her 9th-graders have grown in the short time she has been their teacher.”
Bernie said she didn’t have much as a kid, she grew up in a humble environment, and teaching is a way to help others in similar situations. “If I can just be the voice, the person who can tell a kid, ‘You can do it and I’m going to be with you every step of the way, you’re not going to be alone, and don’t ever feel alone’ — that’s my why (for becoming a teacher),” she said. “Letting kids know that they’re not alone in their education, they’re not alone in their lives, because my job doesn’t stop when the bells ring. It’s a 24-hour job.”