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News Item: Homepage

ASTI’s Todd Higashi Wins LifeChanger of the Year Award (02/28/2017)



Issued By:        


Superintendent Sean McPhetridge (510) 337-7060 and

Board President Gary Lym (510) 337-7187    


Alameda, Calif. — February 28, 2017 — Staff and students at the Alameda Science and Technology Institute (ASTI) surprised veteran teacher Todd Higashi today with news that he had won a prestigious National LifeChanger of the Year Award.


Higashi, a science and physical education teacher at ASTI, is one of just 15 teachers from across the country who won an award from the National Life Group Foundation, which every year recognizes K-12 public and private school educators and employees who are making a difference in the lives of students by exemplifying excellence, positive influence, and leadership. 


Higashi was nominated by a group of ASTI colleagues. “Mr. Higashi
wears many hats,” said Principal Tracy Corbally. “He teaches a wide variety of subjects, from biology and media to physical education. He embeds his talents and passion for his subjects into his curriculum, engaging students and making learning matter.”  


The school garden is one of Mr. Higashi’s greatest contributions to ASTI. Starting in 2012, Mr. Higashi and his Green Club students worked tirelessly to secure the space and create a 5000 square foot organic garden to be managed by students. The garden includes an orchard that will be furnished with outdoor seating and also serves as an outdoor classroom where students learn about hands-on gardening, the environment, and nutrition. 


“Students use the garden as a peaceful place of refuge,” Corbally explained. “Mr. Higashi has created a space where all students feel welcomed and valued, and it gives all students an opportunity to contribute positively to their school community. He is also changing the way students think about food, nutrition, farming, and their impact on the environment.” 


Mr. Higashi’s LifeChanger of the Year nominee profile is available at:  www.LifeChangeroftheYear.com.  


Students, staff, and LifeChangers representatives surprised Higashi in the ASTI quad at noon. Even Higashi’s wife Noriko and kids Mika and Tatsuya were in on the surprise—they took him out to lunch while students helped the folks from Lifechanger get ready. “It's a huge honor to be recognized by this award,” Higashi said. “I'd like to thank my principal for nominating me and everyone who has supported my nomination. Most of all I'd like to thank my students and the ASTI community for creating a welcoming and warm community to work in. The enthusiasm, kindness, and curiosity that my students exude makes it a joy to be around them and inspires me to be the best teacher that I can. Without them, I would not have been able to receive this award.”


Higashi, who was also a finalist for a 2016 AUSD Teacher of the Year award, has taught at ASTI for 9 years.


“Todd is an example of the kind of education we hold most dear in AUSD,” said Superintendent Sean McPhetridge. “He is innovative, hands-on, and focused on reaching all students.”


Photo Credits: Terry Chau and Yongqi Kuang




Each school year, the LifeChanger of the Year program receives hundreds of nominations from all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Fifteen individual school employees won LifeChanger of the Year awards in 2016-17. Winners receive a cash award that is split between the individual winner and their school. The national Grand Prize award is $10,000. The top five winners will also be honored at a national awards ceremony in Naples, Florida. 


The selection committee, which is comprised of former winners and education professionals, chooses winners based on the following criteria: 

  • A proven ability to make a beneficial difference in the lives of students 
  • An ability to positively add to the development of the school's atmosphere 
  • Is involved in leadership activities at the school and/or community level 
  • A demonstrative record of excellent performance at the professional level 
  • A commitment to producing a nurturing atmosphere 
  • Adherence to high moral and ethical standards 


AUSD’s Alameda Science and Technology Institute (ASTI) is an Early College High School located on the College of Alameda campus; ASTI students complete their high school diplomas by taking a combination of college and high school classes. The program is committed to ensuring that all students – and especially under-represented students – receive the support and resources needed to get a college degree. ASTI won a Blue Ribbon from the U.S. Department of Education in 2015.




Alameda Unified School District (AUSD) serves more than 9600 students in Alameda, California,  an island community in the San Francisco Bay Area.  For more information, please visit the AUSD website, follow @AUSDNews on Twitter, or subscribe to our email communications. Questions? Contact Susan Davis, Senior Manager, Community Affairs, at sdavis@alameda.k12.ca.us.


Posted by: Susan Davis, District Staff, Alameda Unified School District Published:2/28/17
Audience: Homepage and Homepage