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Mr. Robot: Roosevelt Middle School’s Randy Kamiya to be honored by UCLA, college football

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Robotics instructor Randy Kamiya watches students John Nguyen, 13, Avakeem Avakian, 11, and Ibrahim Ahmad, 13, work with a Lego robotics program during a class at Roosevelt Middle School on Monday.
(Tim Berger | Glendale News-Press)

Veteran Roosevelt Middle School educator Randy Kamiya is not a college football icon.

In fact, the STEM instructor, who teaches math, science and robotics, doesn’t have much of a rooting interest for a local team, say UCLA or USC.

However, Kamiya will join the ranks of many renowned Bruin and Trojan heroes Saturday when he will be honored at the famed Rose Bowl field during UCLA’s Pac-12 Conference game against Oregon State.

Kamiya will be given the Extra Yard for Teachers Award by UCLA, the College Football Playoff Foundation and the Pac-12, for, “effectively utilizing STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics) education to inspire, motivate and engage students.”

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Along with the acclaim, a large, ceremonial check will be presented to Kamiya on Saturday, representing a real $10,000 grant for Roosevelt.

“It’s great to be recognized by an organization like the College Football Playoff Foundation, and it’s especially nice to be honored by UCLA,” said Kamiya, a former collegiate gymnast at Los Angeles City College.

“It’s also nice for Roosevelt Middle School to be recognized because, next year, we’ll be changing our name to Roosevelt STEAM Academy. It’s great to be the headliner for the school,” he added.

Awards aren’t new for Kamiya, who has racked up acknowledgments, including winning the Educational Excellence Award by the Glendale Educational Foundation in 2017.

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“I wasn’t really surprised by the [football] award because I was recognized for the exact same work a couple of years back by the Glendale Educational Foundation,” he said.

Kamiya is perhaps best known districtwide for his efforts running the Glendale Unified Elementary Robotics Tournament.

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Ibrahim Ahmad, 13, Avakeem Avakian, 11, Alexander Sebastian, 12, and Diana Lopez, 12, work together on a Lego robot in Randy Kamiya’s robotics classroom at Roosevelt Middle School on Monday.
(Tim Berger | Glendale News-Press)

The last one, the 11th annual competition held every year at Roosevelt in April, had 15 schools competing. Kamiya, co-chair of the planning committee, along with Dunsmore Elementary’s Carrie Wedemeyer, said roughly 200 students participated.

“The robotics tournament is the culminating event for the students and teachers who put in so much work all year after school, because most schools do not integrate robotics into their lesson plans,” Kamiya said.

While most efforts are accomplished outside school hours, Roosevelt’s principal Kyle Bruich was more than aware of the endeavors of his STEM instructor and nominated Kamiya for the recent honor.

“I was forwarded the nomination by our school’s PTA president,” Bruich said. “Without a doubt, when I saw what the award was looking for, I thought that Randy Kamiya would be a great fit.”

It took less than a week for College Football Foundation members to respond and let Bruich know they had chosen Kamiya for the award.

Like Kamiya, Bruich wasn’t surprised his teacher won the honor.

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“The tournaments are amazing because what I see are future leaders, inventors and engineers standing before me getting their start,” Bruich said.

“I’m very excited to see them using their critical-thinking skills and their problem-solving skills and that day’s success is due, in large part, to Randy,” he added.

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