Awards and adventures go hand in hand for Clark Magnet High School teacher Dominique Evans-Bye.
For a while, it appeared no accolade or experience was left undone for the veteran science instructor, who has traveled up and down the state with students in her class in environmental geographic information systems, or GIS.
In her spare time, Evans-Bye also serves as a volunteer public-safety diver for the Ventura County Sheriff’s Department, which she’s done since 1992, and it’s thrust her into many rescue and recovery efforts, including the recent Conception boat fire.
However, Evans-Bye said she was pleasantly surprised this week when the 22-year teaching veteran with Glendale Unified earned one of 13 individual and 15 total Presidential Awards for Excellence in Science, Mathematics and Engineering Mentoring.
Evans-Bye was the lone high school teacher in a group primarily made up of university professors.
“This is the pinnacle, and it doesn’t get higher than a presidential award,” Evans-Bye said during a phone interview Thursday from Washington, D.C. “This doesn’t get bigger.”
Evans-Bye traveled with her husband to the nation’s capital on Tuesday as she’s taking part in professional development seminars and conferences. She was also honored along with other award winners during a formal dinner on Thursday evening.
Evans-Bye received a $10,000 grant from the National Science Foundation on top of airfare and accommodations in Washington, D.C.
Former students played a significant role in Evans-Bye receiving the award because she was selected, in part, due to recommendation letters from Clark Magnet 2008 alumna Dalar Nazari, a chemical engineer, and from Zane Toyon, who graduated from Cal State Monterey Bay this spring.
“[Science, technology, engineering and math] and career and technical education programs prepare our students for the careers of the future,” said Glendale Unified Supt. Vivian Ekchian.
“We are so proud of Ms. Evans-Bye and all of our incredible teachers who go above and beyond traditional classroom instruction, and serve as mentors and guides to help our students achieve their aspirational goals,” she added.
What may have meant the most for Evans-Bye was the “mentor” designation tied with the honor.
“I love teaching, but mentoring is where I really excel,” she said. “I love giving kids the opportunity to just take the reins and be in charge of their own education because they do amazing things.”
That may have been evident last September when Evans-Bye and students in her GIS class overcame several obstacles on a sea outing to collect soil samples at the mouth of the Los Angeles River.
The group was rewarded for its efforts by winning first place in the Lexus Eco Challenge Land and Climate Challenge.
“I give them the tools. I’m there with them facilitating their projects and making sure they stay on track and helping them out with whatever they need,” she said.
Evans-Bye’s resume has many accolades that include a Toyota Tapestry Large Grant (2008), a Robert and Karen Newcomb Graduate Scholarship (2009), a Marine Technical Society Student Scholarship (2009), a Chevy Green Educator Award (2012) and a California Geographic Society Distinguished Award (2014).
Evans-Bye was also named a Glendale Unified and Los Angeles County Teacher of the Year in 2016, while she was honored by the Glendale Educational Foundation that year as well.
The latest award isn’t even her first presidential recognition. Former President Barack Obama honored her in 2013 with an Innovation Award for Environmental Educators.