2004 Peter Starodub, Palos Verdes Peninsula High School

Peter Starodub photo PeterStarodub.jpg

Outstanding High School Teacher of the Year
Peter Starodub—One to Remember

“He is one teacher I truly adore; I will never forget him throughout my life.” – Vijay Yanamadala (former student and 1st Place winner of 2002 Intel International Science & Engineering Fair and National Test qualifier in 2002 and 2003 ACS H. S. Olympiad)

As we may sometimes look back to our high school years, there is often little that we remember of what we actually learned, but there is always a teacher who really made a difference in our lives – one that we will always remember.

Teaching is an art form and like a gifted artist, the truly great teachers are memorable. Peter Starodub has inspired many of his students to high achievements through his mentoring and leadership at Palos Verdes Peninsula High School. Consistently top scores overall for the combination of his first and second year chemistry students on the High School Chemistry Olympiad Contest over the past several years has earned him this year’s Outstanding High School Chemistry Teacher Award. This year, his top ten students scored an average of 49 out of 60 (while the section average was 34) with two qualifying for the National Exam competition. This impressive student performance is matched by Peter’s dedication to his students inside the classroom as well. Students in his Science Research class have earned medals in the recent Honeywell Science Fair and last year’s State Science Fair. Peter, himself, “was selected as one of the two finalists for the California State Science Fair Teacher of the Year” as reported on the PVPHS News and Events website. He even accompanied two of his students to a recent competition at Raytheon (a government defense contractor) and had to endure extraordinary security measures because of his Canadian heritage. Despite this, they placed fourth out of twenty-four there, not too bad for a former Royal Canadian Mounted Police Officer.

Through his mentoring as a friend and teaching as a peer, Peter has brought out the best in his students. From his Scientific Research class, his students have gone on to become finalists (two each) for the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair and Siemens Westinghouse Competition. He takes an active role in making his classroom a place where students thrive on the enthusiasm and love of science. Whether he rewarded hard work with Gummi Worms or helped students in need outside his class as “his door was always open, both physically and metaphorically” as one of his students put it. Peter will always be remembered despite, or maybe because of, his “his unfashionable attire of tropical shirts and khaki shorts in all seasons of the year.” The legacy of a tradition of high student achievement as exemplified by the Chemistry Olympiad Contest scores or by just being himself, makes Peter Starodub a teacher whom his students will always remember. Beauty, eh?

– Paul Shin, Ph.D.
Chair, Educational Affairs Committee