LAUSD's Daniel Jocz is 1 of 4 finalists for national teacher of the year

Daniel Jocz, a social studies teacher at Downtown Magnets High School, won this year's California Teacher of the Year award.
Daniel Jocz, a social studies teacher at Downtown Magnets High School, won this year's California Teacher of the Year award. Los Angeles Unified School District

A Los Angeles Unified School District teacher has been selected as one of four finalists for National Teacher of the Year.

Daniel Jocz, a social studies teacher at Downtown Magnets High School, won the California Teacher of the Year award and was nominated by state Superintendent Tom Torlakson for the national competition in October.

The Council of Chief State School Officers, which oversees the competition, made the announcement Tuesday.

"I could not be the teacher that I am without the support of my family, friends, students, parents, and colleagues at Downtown Magnets High School," Jocz said in a prepared statement published by the district. "It feels great to have the hard work we do at DMHS being acknowledged at the national level."

Jocz has leveraged YouTube and other social media to reach students and encourage an understanding of literacy that goes beyond reading and writing, according to the council.

His YouTube channel includes motivational speeches, pop culture references and study guides to help Advanced Placement students prepare for the U.S. History exam.

Video: Daniel Jocz

L.A. Unified notes that the passage rate of his students is among the highest in the district.

"This excellent teacher inspires his students, and pushes them to excel. He deserves congratulations, and also appreciation for his creative and very effective work in the classroom," said newly appointed L.A. Unified Superintendent Michelle King.

Jocz was the first in his family to go to college, and he graduated magna cum laude from UCLA, according to the district.

Jocz said he works to incorporate the perspectives of all groups of people into his classroom, noting in his application, "The experience of African Americans, women, immigrants, workers, the poor, and LGBT individuals is American History."

The other finalists are Nathan Gibbs-Bowling of Washington, Jahana Hayes of Connecticut and Shawn Sheehan of Oklahoma.

The winner will be recognized at a White House ceremony this spring.

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