Miguel Baez, a computer science instructor at Granada High School, has been named Teacher of the Year by the Livermore Joint Unified School District.

Baez was honored this month at the 31st annual Alameda County Teacher of the Year Awards Ceremony, sponsored by the Alameda County Office of Education and held online this year because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Miguel is the rare teacher that is as inspirational for staff as he is for students,” said Granada Principal Matthew Hart. “He provides technological opportunities for his students that I’ve literally never seen in high school classrooms before.”

Since Baez began teaching at Granada five years ago, Hart said, he has taken the lead in expanding computer science courses available to students. He currently teaches several courses including computer science principles, computer graphics, web page design, and game design. His computer applications course is part of the school’s Dual Immersion Program, taught in both English and Spanish.

Baez also leads the high school’s competitive Cybersecurity Club.

During the pandemic, Baez has gotten creative to engage his students in online learning.

“When the distance learning experience started, I decided to study what streamers do to engage with their viewers,” Baez said. “I set up a space, physical and digital, with lots of lights, animations, and overlays on my camera. I got into character using Snapchat lenses and just went in for it!

“It's great to see [the students] laugh at my jokes or to hear them engage when they thought they were muted,” Baez said.

District Superintendent Kelly Bowers also praised Baez his collaboration with elementary STEM teachers, calling him a “model teacher.” Baez’s computer science students at Granada used Webex to teach students at Altamont Creek Elementary how to program Sphero robots.