These high schoolers know how to keep a secret.
That's why when history teacher David Goldenberg of Beckman High School heard music he had no idea that a hoard of students, part of the marching band and cheer team were waiting outside his classroom door.
The school planned the celebration for the California Teacher of the Year following Friday's announcement of the winners. Students, colleagues and administrators cite Goldenberg's passion for teaching and putting students first as reasons he was chosen. Allison Vu, a junior at Beckman High School, said he often meets students during their breaks and stays after school to help them understand.
"He's an amazing teacher," said Principal Adele Heuer. "His content understanding is second to none."
Goldenberg says he's uncomfortable in the limelight. That might be what makes him a good teacher.
"I really try to put the focus on the students, maybe because I don't like attention," he said.
Despite that, he feels comfortable at the head of his classroom, asking students about Vladimir I of Russia. He uses comedy to engage the students, drawing on educational YouTube videos, online resources and a textbook from when he taught history at A.G. Currie Middle School in Tustin.
"He's amazing, he captivates, the way he talks makes me pay attention. The things he tells us make me want to learn," said sophomore Rahul Agarwal.
Mira Pranav, also a sophomore, says Goldenberg keeps her interested.
"He's able to connect things that interest you about history," Pranav said. "He's not boring."
In addition to teaching AP World History and AP U.S. History, Goldenberg is the adviser for Irvine's Youth Action Team, the dodge ball club, American Heart Association club, Make-a-Wish Association club and LinkCru, a club that helps freshmen assimilate to the school. Last year, he was also the freshman football coach and helped the mock trial team, but set that aside after his third child, Katie, was born three months ago.
"He puts in a lot of hours and works really hard," said freshman teacher Tawny Billings. She sees the results of LinkCru's work in her freshman classes.
"He's about students becoming who they're going to be and being successful in their future," Heuer said.
Goldenberg is one of five California Teachers of the Year. His wife, Theresa, who is a teacher at Ladera Elementary in Tustin, children Haley, 6; Caleb, 3; and newborn Katie came to Beckman for the surprise. Haley accompanied her father to the Teacher of the Year dinner, where she took pictures with Mickey and Minnie Mouse.
"That's the part when I got riled up," Haley says.
Throughout the rest of the school day teachers brought their classes by Goldengberg's room to congratulate him.
"It's a little overwhelming," Goldenberg said. "It's one of those experiences I won't forget."
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