Science teacher Despina Mandarino, who was recognized as this year’s Distinguished Teacher at Glenbrook South, is known as a passionate teacher respected and loved by her students.
“She is admired for the warm and witty classroom environment she is able to create and is a mentor and model to all who know her,” said Science Instructional Supervisor, Jeff Rylander.
This award is sponsored by the Glenbrook South Parents Association. The committee that selects the teacher is comprised of students, parents, the past distinguished teacher, and the principal and/or designee.
Mandarino has taught biology, horticulture and chemistry for 24 years at GBS.
“Mrs. Mandarino breathes life into her classroom, cultivates curiosity in young minds, and is always pushing her students to reach their full potential,” said Rylander.
She has a B.S. in Biology and an M.S. in Education from Loyola University. She joined the Glenbrook South faculty in 1994. Along with teaching science, over the years she has sponsored the Science Club, Asian Culture Club, Biology Club, Chemistry Club, Interact Club, and SAFE club. She has presented at numerous workshops and has served on countless committees. She is also an invaluable member of the science department where she has served as a team leader, technology mentor, and science safety officer for many years.
“Mando,” as she is affectionately called by her students, offers a deep determination to help her students find success. One student noted, “She is willing to work with any student inside and outside of the classroom to unleash their full abilities. Her humorous attitude and open personality encourage her students to approach her with any problems that arise from classwork...and life.”
If she is not spending her lunch block or after-school hours solving stoichiometry problems with students, she can be found creating flipped classroom review videos so that no student will fall behind. Each day she engages a student as the daily scribe to document what happened in class for those who might be absent. As a second language student herself, Mrs. Mandarino invites her English learners to share their own cultures as she shares the richness of hers, offering stories from her own personal experience of learning a new language and culture. In the chemistry classroom, she helps students achieve what they thought was beyond them.
“The most passionate of teachers, a storyteller extraordinaire, a caring friend and confidant” are phrases that have been used to describe this respected colleague and beloved teacher.