Madera Elementary School, 2015 Winner
Carl Blake II teaches sixth grade at Madera Elementary in El Cerrito. Mr. Blake, a Navy veteran, has taught for 23 years. He is well-known for using humor in his teaching to put students at ease, and occasionally singing or dancing spontaneously to reduce student anxiety and lighten the tone of the classroom after a particularly difficult task. He tells stories, including stories drawn from his own life, to illustrate life lessons and reinforce the importance of resilience, forgiveness and personal growth. He started a vegetable and flower garden in a vacant, run-down area on the campus of his prior school and has created a garden with fruit trees and chicken coops at his current school. The garden is used as an outdoor classroom to teach children about science, business and horticulture. Mr. Blake also coordinates the school’s science camp program.