Yosemite High School Spanish and political science instructor Steve Browning was named the YHS Teacher of the Year during the school’s end of year awards rally June 1.
Now in his 28th year at YHS, Browning feels the biggest change in students over the years has been their growing dependency, and even addiction, to their cell phones. Other than that, Browning said students are still students, and awesome to teach.
“What I like most about teaching is being around young, excited students,” said Browning. “The students keep me youthful by sharing their music, dreams, and enthusiasm for life.”
Browning’s teaching philosophy revolves around making students feel welcome in his class.
“I never want my class to be the one they dread coming to when they wake up in the morning,” Browning said. “As a result, I always try to greet them with a smile to show I care about them.”
As much joy as he receives from helping send top students to schools like Stanford and Berkeley, his biggest reward comes from hearing the success stories of less fortunate students with little parental support.
“Occasionally I run into one of my former students or a parent in the community and they thank me for all that I did for them even though it was 20 years ago,” Browning said. “Having them tell me I was the only reason they graduated makes me cry after they walk away. Sometimes we do not realize the impact we have on others, but every now and then we are reminded.”
Browning also won the Teacher of the Year award, as voted on by the student body, in 1993-94 and 2013-14.
He was named Madera County Teacher of the Year by the Madera County Office of Education in October 2015 as well.
Browning, a graduate of the University of California, Santa Barbara, with degrees in political science and Spanish and a masters degree from National University, joined the YHS staff in 1990.
He has served as president and vice-president of the Yosemite Teacher’s Association, has chaired the school’s foreign language and fine art departments, and was the first International Baccalaureate Teacher at YHS.
Staff Member of the Year
Sarah ‘sandwich samurai’ Hubbard was named Staff Person of the Year.
Hubbard, 32, has only been in her cafeteria position about eight months, and was surprised by the award.
She said she truly loves her job and the interaction with all the YHS students.
“Every week I put up a new joke or riddle for the students to see when they go through the food line,” Hubbard said. “right next to a photo of my 1-year-old son Jacob with the title ‘Jacob says.’ The students love it, and many say they always look forward to going through the line to get their lunch because of the joke of the week.”
A resident of Yosemite Lakes Park, Hubbard moved from Yucaipa in Southern California two years ago to be closer to family.
“When I went to the awards assembly I knew I had been nominated but when they called my name I was extremely touched and and very honored,” Hubbard said. “I’m very inspired my the young people at YHS - their enthusiasm for life is an inspiration to me to be a positive role model. And I love the kitchen staff. We are a diverse group of five people, yet we are a very efficient group working together. I love my job - it’s very fulfilling for me and extremely fun even thought it’s hard work.”
Hubbard said the school staff is very friendly and have been very welcoming to her.
Food service supervisor Lidia Lewis called Hubbard a hard worker who has a very good rapport with the students.
“She really enjoys interacting with the students,” Lewis said. “Sometimes I think she’s the same age as the students, she gets along with them so well.”