Coming from a family of teachers, Lecar Marie Maghanoy witnessed how her mother, grandfather, aunt, and uncle could touch their students’ lives. Often referred to as second parents, teachers are undeniably influential in a student’s life. Their lessons inside and outside of the classroom help shape students’ attitudes, mindsets, and outlooks on life.

This inspired her to pursue the same noble profession. Driven by her passion for educating the younger generation about science and helping shape a better world, she is determined to forge her path as a teacher.

With ten years of experience as a science teacher in public and private high schools in her hometown of Minglanilla, Cebu, Ms. Maghanoy came to Daly City, California, in 2019 as part of the United States of America’s cultural exchange program. In January 2020, she became the science teacher at Thornton High School under the Jefferson Union High School District.

Inclusivity and adaptability amidst adversity

Ms. Maghanoy believes that science should be inclusive and that it is for everyone. As a science teacher, her goal is to help students develop as scientists and critical thinkers. She implemented the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) in her curriculum, fostering a classroom learning experience that encourages creative and independent thinking by making science relatable to the student’s daily experiences and maximizing the school environment for more holistic learning.

This ensures that her classes engage all types of learners and welcome students from different minority backgrounds. According to, 93.8 percent of THS’s students come from minority backgrounds. Ms. Maghanoy also encourages these students to advance in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM).

While still relatively new to the school system, Ms. Maghanoy was immediately faced with the difficulties brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic. Undeterred, she quickly adapted to the technological challenges of remote learning as a Remote Independent Study (RIS) teacher and maximized this to create engaging and effective virtual classrooms. Realizing the possibilities remote learning offers, RIS is now an alternative option for students who cannot attend in-person classes for various reasons.

Ms. Maghanoy knew early on that being a teacher comes with never-ending challenges and that it requires so much more than passion to sustain and thrive in the field of education. Her years of experience have helped her develop a knack for using difficult situations as an opportunity to devise solutions that will benefit her students and herself.

“Students tend to be distracted with their mobile phones during class. Instead of
confiscating their phones, I came up with the idea of using different mobile applications
for classroom learning,” Ms. Maghanoy shares how she deals with some challenges in
the classroom.

Ms. Maghanoy takes pride in her current role as an instructional coach. Known for her
ability to create classes that adapt to the learning mechanism of the students, Ms. Maghanoy now works closely with her colleagues to provide support and brainstorm teaching strategies that will be effective for each class. Under her guidance, teachers have reported significant improvements in student engagement, academic performance, and overall classroom dynamics.

Her contributions to Thornton High School were recognized when she was awarded the
Martha Meade Award for Educator of the Year for the Jefferson Union High School District in 2021. In the Philippines, she was the team coach for the municipal and division-level science quiz bees and quiz bowls, guiding her students to win top finalist and championship titles for multiple years. She was also awarded Outstanding Science Teacher in Tubod National High School in 2013–14, 2014–15, and 2017–18.

Planting seeds for a sustainable future

For Ms. Maghanoy, these awards are only bonuses for doing her job as best she can. Her focus is on contributing to the school’s overall growth and the welfare of the students. Following a path similar to most of her family, Ms. Maghanoy aims to leave her mark as
a teacher. In the words of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, “Whatever you choose to do, leave tracks. That means don’t do it just for yourself. You will want to leave the world a little
better for your having lived.” When asked what she wants to impart to her students the most, Ms. Maghanoy said, “My dream is a clean and safe environment for all the people around the world. I hope to raise my students’ environmental consciousness and encourage them to take a more active role in caring for the environment. They are the future generation, and this world is also theirs to take care of.”

Armed with knowledge from her Bachelor of Secondary Education Major in Biological
Sciences and extensive research on the topic, Ms. Maghanoy introduced the paper-making elective class. Here, she works hand-in-hand with her students to create
a positive impact.

Ms. Maghanoy has taken an innovative approach to teaching by integrating creativity with sustainability. She has developed a class that teaches traditional paper-making techniques and emphasizes the importance of recycling. Ms. Maghanoy has successfully combined their love for crafting with an eco-friendly vision by encouraging her students to utilize and recycle used paper materials. Her paper-making class has had a significant impact on the community, inspiring various events and workshops centered around recycled crafts. These activities have not only showcased the possibilities of recycled crafts but also generated income, making the classes self-sustainable. Ms. Maghanoy’s success has fueled her passion for teaching students about sustainability. She has explored innovative ways to minimize environmental footprints by incorporating plant-based dyes, seeds, and other organic materials into the paper craft. This has sparked interest among her students in creating unique textures and patterns and instilled a conscious sense of environmental responsibility.

Ms. Maghanoy’s classes are a hub for fostering creativity and a sense of purpose among her students. Her dedication to sustainability has made her a catalyst for promoting more eco-friendly practices within the community.

In April 2024, M.s Maghanoy was honored with the Excellence in Leadership and Most Outstanding Science Educator of the Year award at the Ikatlong Dakilang Filipino Awards (Third Notable Filipino Awards) 2024. This recognition celebrates her outstanding work, which has brought pride to the Filipino people.

About the Author:

Ms. Karla Talkoff is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist for the state of California.
She is also the School and Wellness Counselor at Thornton High School (THS), a continuation high school in Daly CIty, California. Ms. Talkoff has been
in this position for 22 years. Prior to THS, Ms. Talkoff was the mental health counselor
for the FUTURES Project at Jefferson High School, for nine years. The FUTURES
Project was a partnership between the Jefferson Union High School District, San Mateo
County Office of Education, San Mateo County Human Services Agency and San
Mateo County Health Department. She has worked in public education for over 30
years. For the school year 2017-2018, she was the first recipient of Thornton High
School’s Educator of the Year award. It was an honor bestowed upon her by her
colleagues because of the work that she has done over the years.

Ms. Talkoff is also one of the founding members of the Filipino Mental Health Initiative
(FMHI) in San Mateo County. “The mission of FMHI is to improve the well-being of
Filipinos in San Mateo County by reducing the stigma of mental health, increasing
access to services, and further empowering the community through outreach and engagement.” Over the years, FMHI has hosted numerous culturally competent mental
health workshops for service providers, community based organizations, schools, and
parent groups. The goal was to educate the community about the Filipino community
and the lack of attention and services available to Filipinos when it comes to mental
health needs.