A magazine has recently nominated a language arts and history teacher from as a contender for "America's Most Innovative Teacher," which opens the door for a possible $10,000 grant for the school if the educator emerges victorious.
Daryl Bilandzija, who teaches Odyssey's middle schoolers, was told by GOOD Magazine of his nomination on March 2. He joins nine other teachers from all over the country in the magazine's "Great American Teach-Off" contest, which posts videos from the teachers while allowing viewers and readers to vote.
"I try to make things as hands-on as I can for the students," he said. "I want to bring the real world into the classroom."
Bilandzija has been teaching language arts for 10 years in Los Angeles and San Francisco, joining Odyssey three years ago. In those three years, his students have expanded the edible learning gardens, planted fruit orchards, performed Shakespeare plays for the school community, and improved state test scores, according to a press release from the school.
He said his approach may be seen as innovative in the current educational context of high-stakes testing and achievement scores, but "when you look at the history of education and what people have been doing not just in this country, but all over the world, it's nothing out of the realm of good old-fashioned hands-on learning."
Bilandzija already has plans if he managed to snag the $10,000 grant. One of the plans is an open-air stage for the students to perform plays, which Bilandzija--who is also a carpenter--plans to help build.
"I think if we got the money, a significant portion of it would go to that," he said.
According to the GOOD Magazine website, voting shuts down April 9, at 11:59 p.m. EST.