IVC awards teacher of the year

Ballet instructor Marie de la Palme leads her class in warm-ups. De la Palme is a full-time instructor at Irvine Valley College, and has been teaching ballet there for four years. De la Palme, originally from France, has been interested in ballet since the age of eight when she saw her first performance. She is also the artistic director of IVC’s Performing Dance Ensemble. (Photo courtesy of Tameem Seraj)

Tameem Seraj

Irvine Valley College announced its teacher of the year winners that included the categories of full time, part time, and Emeritus instructors.

Marie de la Palme was awarded the full-time teacher of the year honor. De la Palme is a ballet instructor at IVC and has been teaching there for four years.

De la Palme is a native of France and has performed with numerous dance groups such as Alvin Ailey III, Trisler Danscompany, Keith Lee Ballets and others. She graduated from Princess Grace Academie, Monte Carlo.

De la Palme found her inspiration for ballet when she attended a ballet show in New York when she was eight years old. She is thankful for her students for their extra effort to help her win the award.

“This award means a lot because the kids took the time to write and that means more than anything to me,” De la Palme said. “They didn’t just take the class, they took the extra step to download the form and write something meaningful and submit it and that’s huge, so for me it’s a huge rush of affection for my kids.”

De la Palme is currently the artistic director of IVC’s Performing Dance Ensemble and the dance company Motion/Tribe. The part-time teacher of the year award was given to art and design instructor Joseph Gerges. Gerges has been an instructor at IVC for two years.

Gerges is a first generation Egyptian-American and graduated from Art Center College of Design and earned his masters in drawing and design from California State University, Fullerton.

Gerges has been painting since his early teens and his drawings tackle topics like conflict, discrimination and class structure. In addition to drawing he also directed a film documentary titled Solo. Gerges has also worked with elite studios such as Paramount and Universal.

Becky Rigali won the Emeritus teacher of the year honor. Rigali teaches Pilates and fitness courses to elderly adults as part of IVC’s Emeritus Institute. She has been at IVC since 2008.

Rigali is a graduate of California State University, Fullerton earning her bachelor’s degree in gerokinesiology and her master’s in public health.

Rigali is a former personal trainer for Total Woman Gym and Day Spa and gets to know her students individually so she can cater to their needs.

Rigali volunteers as a guest speaker to numerous principles of teaching group fitness courses.