Matt Penland and Laurie Jake have been co-workers and teachers at Kyrene Centennial Middle School for the past seven years. On Monday they went up against each other for the Above and Beyond category in the Tempe Diablos 2012 Excellence in Education Awards.

Both teachers spend a lot of time outside classroom hours with other activities — clubs, coaching, leadership and committees. Penland said his day involves getting to school at around 6:30 a.m., when classes start at 9 a.m., and leaving about 12 hours later.

Because of budget cuts last year and the loss of teaching positions, Jake said she now teaches two subjects — science and social studies.

“It’s double the planning time,” she said. “But I have time now that my kids are grown, so this is what I do and I love it. I do a lot of things (outside the classroom), but I don’t really think about it. It feels natural to have a schedule like this.”

Jake nominated Penland, a math teacher who is in his eighth year at Centennial, for the award and she was nominated by another co-worker. Penland has received two teacher appreciation awards in the past year, but says it’s not why he became a teacher.

“It’s nice to be recognized, but I just love teaching,” Penland said. “Mrs. Jake is absolutely amazing. It’s interesting because a lot of kids will leave my classroom and go right to hers for their next class. We work well together.”

The Tempe Diablos 2012 Excellence in Education Awards took place March 26 at Gammage Center for the Performing Arts in Tempe. There were a variety of categories, including awards in achievement, inspiration, innovation and teacher of the year.

“I nominated Mr. Penland, and in that regard I can’t lose tonight,” Jake said Monday before the awards show. “It’s a win for Centennial if either of us win and it means a lot that I was nominated in the first place by my peers.”

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