Verbanszky Named Teacher of Year

Kate Ginley and Mallory Lapiana, Staff Writers

Social studies teacher Paul Verbanszky has been named Contra Costa County Teacher of the Year by the Warren W. Eukel Teacher Trust. Verbanszky will be honored in a ceremony sponsored by the Eukel Trust on November 20 at the Diablo Country Club at 7 pm.

Verbanszky will receive $10,000 from the Eukel Trust.

“I was excited to receive the award and be recognized,” Verbanszky said. “I was humbled by it because there are a lot of teachers at this school who work just as hard as I do.”

“When I got the phone call, I honestly thought they were gonna say, ‘Thank you, you were a great candidate, but not this time.’ But I was going against very amazing teachers,” Verbanszky said. “It was definitely a celebration in my household. My four year old daughter was excited and she didn’t really know what was going on.”

“I was extremely excited, and I think he really deserves it,” said his wife, chemistry teacher Stephanie Verbanszky.

According to its website, the Warren E. Eukel Teacher Trust was formed in 1992 in memory of a Contra Costa County resident who dedicated more than thirty years of his life to help teachers motivate their students.

Verbanszky was one of three teachers honored this year.

Verbanszky said he was nominated for the award last April by Basheer Edun, a recently-retired Campolindo math teacher, who himself was a recipient of the award in 1996.

To be one of the hundreds nominated came with many challenges. Members from the organization visited his class and took note of everything he did. “I was observed in the classroom, which was stressful,” said Verbanszky.

Verbanszky had to send in essays and attend an interview with 5 people from the county school board. “It was twenty minutes of the most difficult questions I have ever [heard],” Verbanszky said. He was “drilled” with “education questions” about examples of his lessons and how he gets students to pay attention.

Verbanszky is also the Academic Decathlon coach, and his team has won the national championships two years in a row. Acadeca co-captain Katie Coates said, “It affirmed what I already know. He is a great teacher, who puts in a lot of work and cares about his student.”

Verbanszky believes he was chosen for the relationships he builds with his students and the way he makes academic content relevant to their lives. “They were impressed with my ability to connect with students,” Verbanszky said. “Teachers forget how stressed students are and I try to connect with that. As I’ve been teaching for fourteen years, I reflect if [each lesson] was worthwhile, engaging and meaningful.”

The Warren E. Eukel Teacher Trust was also impressed with his work with the Academic Decathlon club. Since he became the sponsor, that club’s membership has grown from ten members to forty. With his help, the team was able to claim a spot as one of the nation’s top teams.

Coates said, “I think a lot of it was due to participation in Academic Decathlon.”

Math teacher Nita Madra, who was nominated for the award last year, said, “It’s awesome, he is totally perfect for this reward.”

“Obviously I’m biased, but I think he’s a really great teacher who has a really strong influence over the students in his classroom,” said Verbanszky’s wife.

Verbanszky is happy about the recognition. “It [the award] validates my teaching style and all the years I spent [in this career],” Verbanszky said. Verbanszky said this recognition will not lead to complacency. “I will not stop continuing doing the best work I can,” he said.