GLENDALE — A Glendale High School teacher and athletic director was honored Monday with the John Delmonte Award for exemplary teaching and his dedication to his students and work.
Pat Lancaster was sitting at a desk Monday along with more than 20 teachers who were getting information on staff development when Glendale Unified School District board members and Supt. Michael Escalante interrupted the session to announce the award winner.
The winner’s identity was kept a secret from teachers, staff and even district board members.
“This person symbolizes what it means to be a Glendale High School Dynamiter,” board President Joylene Wagner said, referring to the school’s mascot, before she announced Lancaster as the winner.
Wagner told the classroom full of teachers that the award winner was also the school’s athletic director and oversaw the production of the school’s newspaper, Explosion, and yearbook, Stylus. When Lancaster heard the description, he stood up, walked to the front of the classroom, and the teachers applauded him as he got the award.
“I am in a dream right now,” Lancaster said.
The Glendale Chamber of Commerce sponsors the award every year and gives it to five teachers in the district and a Glendale Community College professor. Lancaster is the fourth teacher this school year to receive the award, which the chamber gives to one recipient at a time.
The chamber gives the Delmonte Award to teachers who are respected by their colleagues and have shown excellence in teaching and learning.
John Delmonte was a longtime Glendale businessman and member of the chamber’s Education Committee when he established the award program in 1980 because he believed his four children received an outstanding education at the district’s schools. The award was named after Delmonte after his untimely death in 1992.
“[Delmonte] suggested that we honor the Glendale teachers for their professionalism and commitment to the community,” chamber Executive Director Judee Kendall said.
After Lancaster received the award, school officials took him into four other classrooms, where teachers were getting information on staff development, to announce that Lancaster won the award.
“It’s well-deserving,” Escalante said.
Before Lancaster began teaching at the high school, he coached water polo at Pasadena High School during the day and managed a movie theater at night.
He later got a job at Glendale High School, where he has been coaching swimming and water polo and has taught for 19 years.
“I love Glendale High,” he said. “I don’t consider it work.”
The 50-year-old drives every day from his home in Lancaster to Glendale.
“We have so many good kids here,” Lancaster said.
He typically teaches students who have the highest grades in the school and know what they want to do with their future, he said.
“I just kind of point them in the right direction,” Lancaster said.
He tells many students in his journalism classes that being on their high school newspaper’s staff and holding an editor’s position are traits college recruiters look for.
When Lancaster was in high school, he was the sports editor for his school’s newspaper and later joined his college’s newspaper staff.
Being on a high school newspaper staff allows students to be creative and understand leadership positions, Lancaster said.
The high school’s yearbook class also teaches students about deadlines, he said.
The yearbook’s deadlines have recently challenged Lancaster. He has had to help his students create and produce 50 pages for the yearbook every month.
“It’s like a living, breathing thing,” he said.
Lancaster often takes work home with him and arrives home late, but he doesn’t mind because he loves his job.
“I am just the lucky one this year,” he said.