Saddleback College instructors named Teacher of the Year

David DiLeo (Tameem Seraj)

Tameem Seraj

Teacher of the Year winners for Saddleback College were announced last week and included David DiLeo, Ken Lee, and Rob Henry.

History instructor David DiLeo won the award for full-time Teacher of the Year. DiLeo, 59, is a native of Oceanside and has been teaching at Saddleback since 1993. He earned his bachelor’s degree in history at Cal State University, Long Beach and his doctorate in history from University of California, Irvine.

DiLeo likes the vibe he gets from his students and being in a classroom.

“I like the energy students give me,” DiLeo said. “Even on a bad day they give me the extra push.”

He is very committed to Saddleback and wants to see the history department flourish and thrive.

“Every teacher tries to perfect their program,” he said. “I’m trying to get it right.”

DiLeo has had a passion for history since he was young when he was inspired by his fifth grade teacher Mrs. Pearson. In his free time he enjoys traveling, cycling, and playing tennis.

He formerly taught and was the tennis coach for San Clemente High School. For DiLeo teaching is not just a job but a passion.

“Teaching is an artistic license,” DiLeo said.

Ken Lee, a landscape design instructor, won the part-time Teacher of the Year award. Lee, 54, is a native of Seoul, South Korea and has been teaching at Saddleback since 2000. He earned his bachelor’s degree in landscape architecture from Seoul National University and his master’s degree in landscape architecture from Cornell University.

“In my professional career I have received many awards and recognitions, but this one is more personal and meaningful because it came from the students,” Lee said. “It is the best confirmation that what I am doing is good.”

Lee enjoys spending time with his students and chatting with them.

“I like interaction and sharing intellectual conversations with students,” Lee said. “I like seeing them improve as human beings.”

Lee will invite his students to visit his landscape design business to get a first-hand view of how what they learn in class is practical in the real world.

Prior to teaching at Saddleback, Lee taught at the University of California, Irvine extension program.

When Lee was still in high school he still did not have an idea of what career to pursue and asked his grandfather for advice.

“My grandfather told me ‘Whatever you do, remember the Earth and do something to help or enhance the Earth,” he said. “I wanted to do something creative so landscape design naturally was perfect.”

Rob Henry won the Emeritus Teacher of the Year award. Henry has been teaching consumer health issues courses at the Emeritus Institute since 2005. Henry has been nominated for Teacher of the Year 40 times in his teaching career. Prior to teaching in the Emeritus Institute, Henry worked for the Division of Health Sciences and Human Services since 1987.

Ken Lee (Tameem Seraj)