Above, Venice Senior High teacher Kirsten Farrell receives accolades from supporters during a Gondoliers football game.

Kirsten Farrell, a health science and medical technology teacher for Venice Senior High School, has been named by State Schools Superintendent Tom Torlakson as one of five California Teachers of the Year. She is the only Los Angeles teacher to receive the honor this year.

“I want to thank the California Department of Education for this very special recognition,” Farrell said. “I have always been – and continue to be inspired – by my students and my many dedicated colleagues every single day.”

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Teacher Kirsten Farrell and her sports medicine team volunteer during a community event.

Farrell created one of the first L.A. Unified sports medicine teams, which she founded at Venice High in 2004 in partnership with the West Coast Sports Foundation. In addition to teaching students about anatomy, medical terminology and the ability to treat athletic injuries, the program helps them recognize signs of concussions and trains them in CPR, use of defibrillator and other life-saving techniques.

“We are incredibly proud of Ms. Farrell for this important distinction,” said L.A. Unified Acting Superintendent Vivian Ekchian. “In addition to exhibiting educational excellence, she is someone who embodies an entrepreneurial spirit. Breaking new ground in important fields, she is an amazing role model for students everywhere.”

A 21-year teaching veteran, Farrell has served Venice High for 15 years as a regional occupational program and career technical education teacher. She has taught a variety of courses, including sports medicine, medical terminology and sports therapeutics. She is also a certified athletic trainer.

Before coming to Venice, she taught at St. Monica Catholic High School in Santa Monica, Leysin American School in Switzerland and Nishimachi International School in Japan.

“I appreciate that Venice is a true community school,” she said. “Having grown up in a mobile, military family, I am thrilled when I meet grandparents of current students who proclaim ‘Proud to be a Gondo!’”

Venice Principal Dr. Oryla Wiedoeft said that Farrell is an inspirational teacher who has a positive impact on every student who enters her classroom.

“She is an absolute superstar,” she said. “Through her vision, creativity, dedication and leadership skills, she has led the development and execution of a unique small learning community that has achieved tremendous success and helped markedly increase enthusiasm among students and enrollment at our school.”

Torlakson said it is important to get the word out about the rewards of being a teacher.

“Teaching isn’t just a job. It isn’t just a career. It’s a calling. It’s a commitment to your community, your students, and most of all, a commitment to the future,” he said.

“They help students find their inner strengths and achieve their dreams, while inspiring, challenging, and supporting them every day. They represent the best of their profession,” Torlakson said.

Farrell’s’ recognition also garnered accolades from Los Angeles Board of Education members.

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Sports medicine students from Venice High compete in international events, including one held in Tokyo.

“This College Awareness Month, we celebrate the amazing talent in Los Angeles and are proud to have Ms. Farrell honored as a California Teacher of the Year,” said School Board President Mónica García. “Ms. Farrell models the qualities of inspiring educators, like excellence, commitment, healer, scholar and bridge builder. And, we salute her work to get more students to the graduation finish line, ready for college, career and beyond.”

“I am proud and grateful to have teachers like Kirsten Farrell at the helm of Venice High School’s Sports Medicine Team, molding the minds and healing the injuries of athletes,” said Board Vice President Nick Melvoin, whose district includes Venice High. “Farrell’s well-deserved statewide recognition showcases the positive effect of an enthusiastic, hard-working and passionate educator.”

“Teachers like Kirsten Farrell are the catalyst to students’ cultivation of a love of learning,” said Board Member Dr. George J. McKenna III. “We are extremely proud of Ms. Farrell and celebrate her as a giant among her colleagues.”

“As a retired principal, I know just how much energy and inspiration teachers like Ms. Farrell bring to a school,” said Board Member Scott Schmerelson. “Her innovative and creative spirit is exactly what our students and communities need and deserve.”

“I am so proud of Ms. Farrell and her dedication to students,” said Board Member Dr. Ref Rodriguez. “She willingly uses her talents and expertise to provide innovative opportunities in the field of sports medicine that will shape the passions and futures of generations of our L.A. Unified students.”

“Every day teachers across Los Angeles are making a difference for our students and families,” said Board Member Kelly Gonez. “As a former teacher, I know it takes relentless dedication to ensure our children get a great public education. This honor recognizes Ms. Farrell as a model of that determination and passion. Congratulations to Kirsten Farrell, and thank you for all do for our students and families!”

“On behalf of the entire L.A. Unified family, I want to extend my congratulations to California Teacher of the Year Kirsten Farrell of Venice High School,” said Board Member Dr. Richard Vladovic. “Thank you for all you do for the students of the District, and for being an example of everything that is good about the profession of teaching and what public schools have to offer.”

Presented by California Casualty and the California Teachers of the Year Foundation, the California Teachers of the Year Program began in 1972 to honor outstanding teachers and encourage new teachers to enter the profession. The 2018 Teachers of the Year, finalists, and semi-finalists will be honored at a gala on Feb. 12 in Sacramento.