MVHS Employee of the Year distinctions awarded


Anushka Patil

Senior clerical Dianne Howard is about to answer a question about the best part of her job when science teacher Pooya Hajjarian, passing by the front desk, answers it for her.”Seeing me everyday,” he said.

Senior clerical Dianne Howard directs a student in the office at brunch. Howard, who joined the staff full-time last year, has won Classified Employee of the Year, an award based on staff votes. Photo by Margaret Lin.
It’s easy, fun rapport like this that Howard has built with staff members that has helped earn her the distinction of being the Classified Employee of the Year.
The process of determining the Employees of the Year takes approximately two weeks. The entire staff, including administration, teachers and custodians, has the opportunity to nominate other staff members for Classified Employee of the Year and Certified Employee of the Year. The top four or five nominations are then put on a final ballot the next week.“It’s always very, very close,” Assistant Principal Brad Metheany, who tallies the votes, said. “All five people are very deserving.”Howard has been working at MVHS for two years — the first was spent as a frequent substitute in the office, and the second as a full-time employee. On campus, she’s best known for her daily position behind the front desk in the office.

“[Her’s] is the first face most people see at [the school],” Metheany said. “She makes us look good from the moment [someone] steps in … ‘How can I help you?’ Always with a positive smile.”

As senior clerical, however, Howard’s responsibilities extend far beyond directing visitors in the office. Her workday begins at 6:45 a.m, and throughout the day her job includes managing substitute teachers, processing attendance for staff, handling mail and office supply orders and maintaining the daily bulletin, among various other jobs.

“[Whenever someone needs something], you jump up and do it,” Howard said. “You know, you do the best you can … to take care of all these people.”Science teacher and department chair Kavita Gupta, who has been voted the Certified Employee of the Year, shares much of the same attitude in her teaching style that revolves around students’ needs.
“The kids work so hard with so much on their plate, that it really gives me inspiration to at least do my part right,” Gupta said.

Science teacher Kavita Gupta reviews quiz answers with students in her fourth period AP Chemistry class. Based on staff votes, Gupta has been named Certified Employee of the Year. This is her eleventh year of teaching at MVHS. Photo by Aafreen Mahmood.

Gupta describes the 11 years she has taught at MVHS as a growth process in which her main focus is to continuously adapt to changing student needs, especially in regards to learning styles and new technologies.

“I try to address all learning styles, because I’m a visual learner. When someone is speaking to me and it doesn’t make sense, I need a pen and paper,” Gupta said. “And [something similar] must be true for others with different learning styles.”

Part of this adaptation is Gupta’s new video-based approach to teaching, in which she presents what would be traditionally taught through lecture through YouTube videos. Her “flip-teaching” method enables her students to learn the material at home so that they can focus on practicing and working through problems with her in the classroom.

“We don’t teach subjects, we teach kids, and she’s a shining example of that philosophy,” Metheany said. “She has a presence [on campus] and is very active in the school … That speaks volumes to the kind of teacher she is.”

Continuous involvement is a running theme through both Howard’s and Gupta’s work, something Metheany describes as “working outside themselves”.

“I know I can depend on them to do things for the students, parents and fellow staff,” Metheany said. “I appreciate that and I think the school does too.”

Howard and Gupta will be honored at a Board of Trustees meeting at MVHS on March 12.