Brandon Lee receives his Spirit of Laguna Award. (Left to right) El Morro School Counselor Marlanne Lawson, EMS Principal Chris Duddy, LBUSD Director of Special Education Irene White, Lead Instructional Aide Brandon Lee, Special Education Instructional Aide Elizabeth Murray, EMS School Psychologist Luisa Mossa, Special Education IA Eva Boni, Special Education IA Agnus McManus, Special Education Teacher Nedan Sullivan, Special Education Teacher Alicia Saucedo, School Readiness Nurse Claudette Ahern, Speech and Language Pathologist Tracy Slater, Early Learning Specialist Sandra Bandettini.

Brandon Lee wins annual Spirit of Laguna Award for exceptional service

Lead instructional aide for El Morro, Brandon Lee, recently earned the prestigious 12th annual Spirit of Laguna Award, an honor recognizing an individual who has demonstrated exceptional service to others in the school community.

“Truly dedicated hard work does not go unnoticed. I am so very blessed by this school district. I couldn’t thank those who decided to award me with this enough,” said Lee. 

After overcoming many struggles in his own academic experience, Lee decided to jump headfirst into the field of education. 

“Personally, school was really difficult for me, and dealing with home life wasn’t easy. Elementary school was a struggle with no mentor or anyone to look up to,” said Lee. “Then in middle school, I got held back in eighth grade. Lastly, in high school, I dropped out in my sophomore year and never graduated. I got my GED years later, but now I look back and I never want any kiddo out there to struggle in the same way or feel the same as I did in school. Every child’s education is important, whether they see that or not,” said Lee.

Lee shows the Spirit of Laguna by being himself, showing compassion and understanding every student he interacts with. Not only does Lee exhibit these qualities, but he recognizes these traits in others. One of the people he looks up to is 5th grade El Morro teacher Greg Togawa.

“He is such an amazing teacher in every aspect of his teaching style. He really strives to challenge his students, all while fostering a growth-mindset atmosphere. I look up to him,” said Lee.

After working together for a few years, Togawa and Lee have developed a mutual respect for one another.

“I’ve gotten to work closely with Mr. Lee for four years now. I’m amazed each day by his positive attitude and energy that he brings to the classroom,” said Togawa. “Mr. Lee puts his students first and foremost, and I look forward to one day seeing him with his own class of students. He and I have shared a lot of laughs and good memories over the years, and he’s a colleague I’ll never forget.” 

Lee devotes himself to his work and the children around him, always taking the time to assist those he is working with and brightening the days of all those around him. Lee is often seen dancing to music, making kids laugh and being a self-proclaimed “goofball.”

“The best part of my job is coming to El Morro every day, knowing that I have a chance to make an impact in a student’s life, whether it’s helping them in class with academics, being someone to talk to at recess or even just being goofy in hopes of putting a smile on the occasional saddened face of a student,” said Lee.

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