Pinole Valley High School – 1997 Winner

Lexy Green is an English teacher and debate coach at Pinole Valley High School.  Her debate teams competed in 25 to 30 tournaments per year throughout Northern California.  The team’s 130 members, more than one-third of whom came from families that had recently immigrated to the United States, stayed at school until 5:00 p.m., researching and preparing for debates, then participated in tournaments most weekends.  The team spent over $20,000 annually on bus rental, air travel expenses, entry fees, league memberships and other expenses.  Ms. Green and her students raised as much of this money as they could, but she made up any shortfalls out of her own pocket.  Recently, Ms. Green sponsored a free summer school debate program that attracted 100 students.  Because her district had only one college counselor per 1,000 students, she informally undertook that role as well, without compensation.  She advised students where to apply to college, helped them fill out applications, edited admissions essays and conducted a free SAT preparation class.  She also provided support to students whose parents were in jail or who needed a safe place to stay, and intervened with a college when troubled family circumstances threatened a student’s admission.  When one student’s family moved out of the district, she drove him to and from school every day so that he could continue to be on the debate team.