Paly teacher wins Columbia University award

Esther Wojcicki honored for 'stellar achievement' in teaching journalism

Palo Alto High School journalism and English teacher Esther Wojcicki has received an "excellence in teaching" award from the Columbia Scholastic Press Association.

The award was presented last month at a Columbia University conference on high school journalism -- a conference attended annually by scores of Paly journalism students under Wojcicki's leadership.

The Charles O'Malley Award for Excellence in Teaching is named for a director and benefactor of the Columbia Scholastic Press Association and signifies "stellar achievement in the teaching of student journalists," according to the association.

Wojcicki, who arrived at Paly as advisor to the student newspaper The Campanile in 1984, has received many teaching awards in the past, including a 2002 Carnegie Foundation award that permitted her to formulate her thoughts on teaching to share with others.

"I see journalism as an integration of all the curriculum -- English, social studies, writing skills and more," she said.

"It teaches you to get along with your peer group, makes you responsible, teaches you about the business world because you have to go out and get ads.

"There's no other subject that prepares you as effectively to be a functioning adult in a democratic society, if it's taught properly, in a way that students are actually trusted," she said.

Chris Kenrick

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1 person likes this
Posted by Barbara Slone
a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Apr 11, 2011 at 11:22 am

Congratulations Esther! It's a pleasure to read of your award!

Like this comment
Posted by Katie
a resident of Crescent Park
on Apr 11, 2011 at 11:54 am

Yay good job Woj!

Like this comment
Posted by Parent
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Apr 11, 2011 at 12:06 pm

What's so good about Woj? My child had her for English and she was good but not fantastic. She must be a better journalism teacher. She is not very warm and is quite blunt.

Like this comment
Posted by mac clayton
a resident of Community Center
on Apr 11, 2011 at 12:24 pm

Yay Woj. Chris and Nick and Meg say congrats too. Well deserved.

Like this comment
Posted by Evan
a resident of Crescent Park
on Apr 14, 2011 at 1:48 pm

Yo Parent, Woj is awesome. She's a character, and on great terms with her students. Sorry if your kid missed that, but even great teachers don't always connect with every student.

Having had her, she had a huge impact on me and my fellow students.

Like this comment
Posted by Paly Parent
a resident of College Terrace
on Apr 15, 2011 at 8:16 pm

Ms. Woj does have an agenda, but she was incredibly fair to my daughter who disagreed with her. My daughter is a great writer thanks to Ms. Woj and excelling in collegiate writing. Ms. Woj is an outstanding teacher and one of the best I've seen. Congratulations!

Like this comment
Posted by Huh?
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Apr 16, 2011 at 7:27 pm

Article doesn't state what it takes to win the award. Perhaps, it is relevant to this: "a conference attended annually by scores of Paly journalism students under Wojcicki's leadership."

My friend has a child in her class who says that they do not learn much in class and Wojcicki is gone for several days each month. I guess the bar is low when most English teachers these days don't even return papers with comments on them.

Like this comment
Posted by Paly Parent
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 22, 2011 at 10:56 am

In my daughter's four years at Paly, she only had one teacher (her senior year) who put time and effort into teaching writing. One English teacher, now retired, said she didn't assign out-of-class writing since there was so much copying, but she didn't take the time to teach students how to write in class either. Another English teacher never collected writing; she occasionally had students read each other's short compositions and make comments (the blind leading the blind). The junior teacher was generally critical of the level of writing but never bothered to teach students how to write better. He then failed to return the last 2 essays. Granted it's not easy to teach writing, and grading compositions is time-consuming and difficult. However, it's an important skill which students need in college and in life.

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