Malibu Optimist Club Honors Five Local Educators

The Optimist Club of Malibu honored five local educators on May 5 at its Ronald E. Merriman Excellence in Education Award Ceremony. 

The Excellence in Education program is designed to recognize and reward educators for their contributions to education in our local schools. The organization annually ask the principals from each school to nominate candidates for this award based upon their exemplary dedication to serving youth and passion for assisting students to reach their full potential.  

Last year, the Malibu Optimists presented its only surviving charter member, Ron Merriman, with a Lifetime Achievement Award for his ongoing support, commitment, and dedication to the organization’s values and goals as a “Friend of Youth” and his many years of service to the Malibu community as a teacher, counselor and principal. To honor Merriman, the club renamed the Excellence in Education award in his honor.

The 2022 Optimist Club of Malibu Ronald E. Merriman Excellence in Education Award recipients are:

Tina Jennings began her teaching career 11 years ago in South LA with Aspire Public schools and has been teaching in Malibu for four years. She is currently a fourth-grade teacher at Malibu Elementary School, where she has incorporated a daily morning meeting into her classroom, so students are able to participate in shares and activities that promote mindfulness, digital citizenship, cooperation, sportsmanship, and problem-solving discussions, anti-bullying, and social justice. Jennings met the unpredictable challenges of teaching in the online environment in response to the COVID-19 restrictions, but as soon as in-person instruction returned to Malibu Elementary, she spearheaded the class’ Student Council, generating excitement for School Spirit Days, new traditions, fundraising, and electing a student body president.

Jacqueline Papale has worked as an educator for 20 years. She began working in SMMUSD in 2005 and was one of the original transitional kindergarten teachers working alongside the Early Learning Team to develop and grow the Reggio-inspired, STEAM-enhanced, TK Bridges program. As the transitional kindergarten teacher at Webster Elementary School, Papale seamlessly incorporates site and district goals into her curriculum, and recently has been focusing on deep learning projects with attention to identity, diversity, equity and inclusion, social-emotional learning, and purposeful play. Her TK is a proud contributor to the Botswana School Project, which supports students in a remote village schoolhouse in Africa.

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Lisa Hall has been the office administrator at Our Lady of Malibu for seven years and has been indispensable in helping to make the transition of the new principal, Rich Nambu, as painless as possible. Hall not only takes care of the OLM teaching staff by making sure they have everything they need, but also ensures that each and every family knows what is happening at school and in their children’s classes on a daily if not hourly basis. Hall almost single-handedly helped keep OLM open first during the Woolsey fire, and subsequently during the COVID-19 pandemic by recruiting new students and teachers when it became necessary for some to leave the school. 

Maureen Rosen has been a special education teacher for 31 years, 19 of those at Malibu Middle School. Rosen has served the students at MMS in many different capacities, from teaching special education classes to working directly with general education teachers to knowing her students’ individual strengths and weaknesses. In recent years, she has worked primarily with eighth-grade students to prepare them for high school. Mrs. Rosen knows what is going on in every single eighth-grade classroom by working very closely with all teachers and the students in her caseload to make sure student goals are met and accommodations made are appropriate.

Andy Meyer has been a teacher at Malibu High School for 29 years and has taught a range of social science courses over the years. He has served as the history department chair for 18 years and is currently teaching U.S. history and psychology/sociology. Approximately 25 years ago, Meyer and then Principal Mike Matthews established Decades Day, an annual MHS tradition that incorporates student research projects and exhibitions into a fun learning experience. He has also served as a teacher leader for the MHS disaster/emergency preparedness teams. Additionally, he handled a therapy/service dog and helped respond to the needs of the MHS school community after the Woolsey fire and during the COVID-19 pandemic. Meyer has twice been recognized with an Honorary Service Award from PTSA.

In addition to receiving an award plaque, each recipient also received a gift card from Geoffrey’s Restaurant and a car wash from Buzz Wax. 

Samantha Bravo
Samantha Bravo
Samantha Bravo is an inspiring photojournalist based in Los Angeles California. She began her journalism career at Pierce College Media Arts Department. Twitter @samanthavbravo

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