2020 Primitivo Garcia Elementary Teacher of the Year

Della Judie


Della W. Judie
Primitivo Garcia Elementary School
Third Grade

What factors influenced your decision to become a teacher? Identify what you consider to be your greatest contributions to and accomplishments in education. 
My mother influenced me to be a teacher. I watched and worked as a child alongside her in her home daycare, caring for children from birth to school age. I enjoyed the feeling that I had when children reached milestones, grew and developed as an infant and later on. I saw the influences that those around them had on their growth and development, and it amazed me. I learned that all children could learn, and their learning is influenced by those who have some type of role in their lives. Teachers spend a lot of time with children, and they can use that time to influence/impact their lives in a powerful way.

The greatest contribution and accomplishments in education are developing relationships with children that have a lifelong impact on their lives. Witnessing the growth/development process and provide a quality education that prepares them for the present and the future is an honor. I always want to be remembered by my students for positively impacting their lives and believing in them, even when they may not have believed in themselves. I had a couple of those types of teachers; they inspired me.

Describe a project or initiative that you have led or been involved with that contributed to increasing equity in education and opportunity for students in your school. What was your role in this project and what was the impact? 
When I taught at a preschool/early childhood level, I participated in a program that assisted the teacher with the Project Approach to learning. I worked alongside a former teacher who had become a project coach. I was trained on the project approach and read books, written by Judy Harris Helm and Lilian Katz to assist me. Shortly after observations of my students’ interest, I found that they were interested in rocks, things made with rocks, etc. I brought in materials, including books and actual rocks for children to explore, and our project took off from there. The children were so into their exploration that they didn’t realize how many skills they were learning. We were able to incorporate all subjects into this project with some intention on the teaching end. We brought in experts and went on field trips as well.

By following the students’ lead, we ended up learning about statues. This project experience changed my mindset, and I began to see things from a different perspective; it was all about the children’s interest, and the rest (subjects) would follow, and it did. With our ongoing assessments, we found that our children had learned a grew in all developmental domains. Over time, I have completed many projects with children. I am now featured in one of Judy Harris Helm’s books (Growing Child Intellect pg. 74-78), for the work that I have done with young children with the project approach.


  1. I’m so very proud of u Della……continue to be the best teacher u can be. The children that u teach will remember u when they are older as the teacher who inspired them…