Home economics teacher Doreen Lucero always recommends 2 percent milk to her students. Now the popular instructor has become the cream of the crop.

The teacher at Alvarado Intermediate joins only 2 percent of the nation's top instructors who have earned their National Board Certification.

To earn the certificate, teachers must undergo an extensive evaluation process. They must prove they're accomplished teachers using the best educational practices.

"I chose to earn my certificate while earning my master's degree in education at Cal State Fullerton," Lucero explained. "It was a lot of extra work and expense, but I thought it was worth it."

To prove her abilities, Lucero had to submit four portfolios.

Justin Huang and Elisa Lee cook some calzone in the Future Homemakers Club of America.
The first three showed classroom teaching, including video recordings and examples of student work.

"One of the things I wrote about was my students and how my techniques affect their learning. You learn a lot when you have to evaluate everything you do in the classroom," Lucero said.

These portfolios were scored by a dozen master teachers trained in assessing best educational practices.

Watching her work with the Future Homemakers of America Club, it was easy to see how Lucero exceeded the national standards.

Her easy rapport with the Alvarado students helps. The fact they were making pepperoni calzone didn't hurt either.

"She's a very good instructor. Mrs. Lucero gives a thorough demonstration

before we cook something," said Valerie Ng, the 13-year-old FHA president.

Alvarado regularly fields teams to FHA competitions. One team advanced to the state contest in Fresno recently.

"Carnie Chung and I placed second in nutrition education," boasted 14-year-old Justin Huang.

Susan Ahmed, 14, said she competed in the salad preparation contest with a tasty strawberry vinaigrette.

Soon, the students savored the succulent aroma filling the teen center. The pepperoni calzones they prepared attracted band director Steve Krumbine, who had been rehearsing nearby with the school band.

Fortunately, Lucero had the foresight to make a piece for her colleague.

"She always cooks the best dishes. Her cooking course is one of the most popular classes on campus," Krumbine mumbled between bites.

Chicken parmesan, pizza, cake and cookies, it's little wonder the teen center had become such a popular place.

Lucero had to detail accomplishments outside the classroom for the national credit.

"In addition to the FHA, I also advise the Associated Student Body and do much of the student scheduling," Lucero said.

How she finds the time for all this is puzzling. Lucero was planning her wedding while she finished up her certificate.

Now the young couple have a 5-month-old son, Harrison. We're talking a very busy mom, wife and teacher here.

But the smiling instructor obviously loves teaching.

And her warmth seems to have spread to her students. Now, the FHA is joining the Great American Bake Sale on May 28, 29. Since 2003, more than a million people have raised $5 million to make sure no child in America grows up hungry.

Hopefully, they'll use 2 percent milk in their cookies, cakes and pies.

richard.irwin@sgvn.com

(626) 962-8811, Ext. 2801