2011 Dean Papadakis, South Pasadena High School

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Dean Papadakis of South Pasadena High School
Southern California Outstanding High School Teacher of the Year Recipient

Konstantine (but usually called Dean) Papadakis received his BA in chemistry from Westmont College in Santa Barbara in 1981. After working for three years at the USC School of Medicine, where he co-authored two papers, Dean completed his teaching credential in 1984, and has been a chemistry teacher at South Pasadena High School since 1985. In addition to teaching high school, Dean taught summer school at Cal State LA in 1996 and 1997, and later earned his Master of Science in 2008 from Cal State Northridge. In addition to his chemistry teaching, Dean also teaches physics, and has been involved in many activities using astronomy, particle physics and nanotechnology. Dean was the advisor to the Science club from 1994 through 1997, participant in the Goldstone Radio Telescope from 1998 to 2000, and helped build 3 portable cosmic ray detectors in 2003 for his students. He has taught his students how to use a GC, a transmission electron microscope, and has introduced computer software programs to his classes to enhance learning difficult chemical concepts.

The letters from his students describe Dean as someone who “puts his whole heart into teaching his student.” “He does more than is asked of him by hosting weekly after-school study sessions and evening review sessions.” “I watched as an extraordinary person taught an extraordinary subject. Chemistry is not easy to learn, but Mr. Papadakis combines straightforward lectures with captivating demonstrations to make chemistry both accessible and exciting.” “He deserves to be nominated for this award because he doesn’t teach chemistry because it is his job; he teaches with passion for the subject and with true care for each and every one of his students.”

Dean’s collogues use such words as “humble and genuine,” “works amazingly hard for his students,” a “caring attitude about student,” and “a remarkable teacher.”

It is statements like these above that make Dean a very worthy recipient of this year’s SCALACS High School Chemistry Teacher of the Year.

– Dr. Gerald Delker, Education Chair

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Dean Papadakis and Paul Groves doing an experiment for their class