SCOE: 2020 Sacramento County Teacher of the Year Event


(relaxing music) – It’s my honor to welcome you to our Sacramento County
Teachers of the Year 2020 Awards Dinner. (applause) We are in for an exciting evening where we will meet some
inspirational teachers and hear their stories. But, before we crown our
new teachers of the year, we would like you to hear
from last year’s top teachers. They could not be with
us here this evening. But, thanks to the magic of television. – Good evening, everyone. Welcome. I’m Brandon Parker from
Einstein Middle School. Sacramento City Unified School District. And I just want to congratulate all of the nominees this evening. You guys are champions of your campus and you’re representing
your district well. I just want to take a moment to reflect on my time
as a teacher of the year for the Sacramento County
Office of Education. It’s been a wonderful year packed with many great events that they’ll
soon unfold for you guys. But I just want to say
that it’s been an honor. And I know that, when
I showed up last fall after receiving this honor, I actually showed up to work
a little bit more enthused. And I felt like there
was not so much pressure. But an even higher standard for myself as I showed up to work everyday. And I tell you. Teaching’s a wonderful profession. I know we’re all in it
because we love the students. We want to make a difference. And I can honestly say I
drove to work every day just excited to connect
with these students and have a meaningful school day. At this point, I want to go ahead and turn it over to my
friend and colleague, Michael Steele from Elk Grove. – Thanks for that introduction, Brandon. It’s been great getting
to know you this year and working with you in
representing Sacramento County and our professions this
year as teachers of the year. As Brandon said, my
name is Michael Steele. I teach AP Calculus at
Franklin High School in Elk Grove, California. I was one of two Sacramento County teachers of the year last year. The opportunity to represent
not only my profession, but my home since I was a young kid, was really special for me. It brought up many great activities and gave us opportunities to celebrate our profession many times. For me, one of my personal
favorite highlights was getting to sing the National Anthem at the Sacramento River Cats game. And, as a long time baseball coach and even season ticket
holder of the River Cats, that was a really special opportunity. But I think, more than that, the program gave me a chance
to really reflect on myself and my profession and the amazing people
that fill our profession and have chosen to be teachers. Everyone here tonight and
everyone there last year with us celebrating was a special teacher who’s done amazing things. Getting the opportunity
to hear their stories and their testimonials about what their career has meant to them and what their job has
brought into their lives and hearing from their students, people whose lives were irrevocably changed by their influence, really opened me up and
helped me think about my role in the lives of
students every single day. Teaching is one of those
professions that’s amazing. It doesn’t happen in a vacuum. It’s always connection. It’s all about connection. And having the opportunity
to celebrate teaching itself and learning and thinking
about the role of the teacher has really made this a special program. So, without further ado, let me pass this back over
to Superintendent Gordon for the rest of the ceremony. Thank you. – Let’s give it up for
Brandon and Michael Steele. (applause) What wonderful representatives
they have been for us this past year. So, tonight, we will meet
outstanding teachers. We’ll hear their stories and
learn what inspires them. We will also meet amazing students and former students of
these fine teachers. Prepare to be impressed, laugh, and maybe shed a tear or two. Before I introduce Tim Herrera
to kick off the program, I want to thank every one of you for taking on the mission
to improve civic education in our county. It’s because of you and
your staffs and students that thousands more young
people in Sacramento County are now registered to vote. But we must keep
encouraging our high schools to preregister 16 and 17 year olds. Please continue to encourage young people to become involved in civic affairs. And so why is this important? Right now, in our country,
at the dawn of our democracy, Thomas Jefferson said, “We in America do not have
government by the majority. We have government by the
majority who participate. And all tyranny needs to gain a foothold is for people of good
conscience to remain silent.” So, please don’t let
any of us remain silent. There’s much too much at stake. There’s also a lot at stake with the upcoming 2020 US census. We at SCOE are equipping teachers through a state program,
eighth through 12 graders, with resources to infuse both the historical aspects of the census and the future implications
of it in 2020 and beyond. Please support this effort. Children are historically
undercounted in the census. The census has missed
disproportionately high numbers of people of color, low income households in rural and urban areas, and, particularly, young children. We can’t let that continue, because these are among
the families we serve. And much of the support we get is dependent upon an accurate count. And, together, we can do
a lot to have an impact. Encourage people in
your school communities, adults and our youth alike, to complete their census questionnaires and to volunteer to work on the census. All this will go a long way toward helping eliminate undercounts. Particularly in our at risk communities. Thank you for listening. And now it’s my pleasure to introduce our master of ceremonies for tonight. Tim Herrera is our
communications director at SCOE and was named communicator of the year by the California School
Public Relations Association. Tim is a former reporter for KCRA TV and an author and adjunct
college instructor. He’s the father of four children. They are all college graduates. And, most importantly of
all, they’re all employed. (laughter) His youngest is a first grade teacher in the Lota Unified School District. But, most important, Tim is married to a kindergarten teacher in the Elk Grove Unified School District. (applause) Before I turn it over to you, Tim, let me express my deep
appreciation to each district and to you and our outstanding SCOE staff. To the excellent Selection Committee for all of the hard work in making this program tonight a reality, you make it possible for us to recognize the outstanding achievements
and contributions of our teachers. Please join me in welcoming Tim Herrera. (applause) – Thank you, Dave. Thank you very much. And thank you all for being here. I think it’s safe to say that we don’t praise our teachers enough. And I say that because I
am married to a teacher. 35 years in a couple weeks. 35 years. (applause) Please, she deserves the applause. (laughter) She just started her 25th year
of teaching two weeks ago. 21st year of teaching kindergarten. I know. So, every year, she has to go over some basic kindergarten
rules on the very first day. Would you like to hear the rules? Make friends. Be kind to one another. Raise your hand if you have a question. Don’t throw the bark chips. (laughter) Close the door when using
the kindergarten bathroom. (laughter) Flush. And, most importantly,
don’t yell, “I’m done.” (laughter) She comes home with some funny stories. And I know that you teachers
all have them, as well. What’s interesting is that I got a chance to meet all these teachers
who you’ll hear from tonight. And, when I asked them, “What
made you become a teacher?” So many of them said, “Well,
that’s a funny story.” And it really is. One candidate said she had no intentions of being a teacher at all. Because her mom was known as
the strictest teacher in town. But, somehow, she became a teacher. Another one also volunteered in a special education class one day and, at the end of the day, the teacher said to her,
“Are you coming back?” She came back and kept coming back. And now she’s also a
special education teacher. So, you’ll hear some
great stories tonight. We are excited to announce that our two county teachers of the year have been invited to appear
on the Fox 40 morning news Monday morning at around 6:45 AM. Yeah, so, teachers, if you’re running a little bit late for class, don’t worry. I’m sure your principals
will be at your class making sure everything is under control. And we’ll also be posting the speeches from tonight’s dinner online. And we also have videos
produced with our partners, the Sacramento Educational
Cable Consortium. You see some cameras here in the room. They’re producing a program that will run several times during the year. You’ll see the times in your program. Now, as Dave said, this
would not be possible without the support of so
many fine organizations. Please take a moment to read
the acknowledgements portion in your program and say thanks. These people mean so much to us. We’re also grateful for the support of our friends at the Intel Corporation. Because, tonight, Intel
is hosting our teachers, their guests, and principals. Sponsoring their dinners. So, thank you, Intel. (applause) And, for the seventh straight year, SAFE Credit Union has sponsored
our Why We Teach booklet. You’ll see those at your tables. It’s a collection of essays written by our teachers here tonight about their philosophy of teaching. It’s really good reading. And I bet you they wouldn’t mind autographing their essay for you. If you ask nicely. We all want to thank our good friends at the Scottish Rite Bodies of Freemasonry who have traditionally presented two perpetual trophies to
our teachers of the year. You’ll hear from Will Dangler from Scottish Rite a little bit. Will, thank you for being here and thank you to the Scottish Rite. All the school districts in
our county, charter schools, and the Sacramento County
Office of Education are invited each year to participate in the teachers of the year program. Tonight, each teacher
will come up on stage joined by his or her student presenter, principal, superintendent,
and/or district designee. After their remarks, each
teacher and their entourage go out into the hallway
for some photographs. One last note. You notice the beautiful
wooden planters on your tables? They were built by clients
from our Adult Reentry Program with the Sacramento County
Office of Education. They’ve donated them for our teachers and our student presenters. So, at the end of the evening, teachers and presenters, please
take a box home with you. We couldn’t do it without them. So, I know you’re tired
of hearing from me. Would you like to hear from
some teachers and some students? (applause) First, representing the Center Joint Unified School District teacher of the year
2020 is Delanne Mathias. Delanne teaches fifth grade at Arthur S. Dudley Elementary School. And she is being introduced
by Monique Arnold. (applause) – So, both my husband
and I were actually in Miss Mathias’s fourth grade
class nearly 20 years ago. It’s insane. Needless to say, he’s a little jealous I’m up here and he’s not. But the thing that
we’ve been talking about that we both remember is how cohesive our classroom community was. As a teacher myself now, I can appreciate how difficult it is to
foster that kind of community and to make everybody feel comfortable in a classroom setting
where you have people from very different backgrounds. Especially for a bunch
of nine and 10 year olds who are just starting to become aware of what it means to fit in and what it means to stand out. So, it takes a really special teacher to create that kind of community where you celebrate everybody’s successes and you cushion their mistakes. So that we’re kind of able to try again and feel like we can
without being laughed at. So, that’s my experience with Miss Mathias’s fourth grade class. I know it’s my husband’s, as well. And so, I’m really excited
and honored to present, as I will always affectionately
know her as, Miss Mathias. (applause) – Good evening and happy Friday. It’s an honor and a privilege to be in the company of such amazing educators. As I begin this school year, one of the books I like
to read to my class is called I Want To Be. It’s a beautiful picture book by Thylias Moss and Jerry Pinkney. And it gets the students
thinking about things. Which is always a plus. I think it’s really easy for all of us to know what we don’t want to be. We don’t want to be
that guy in the airport whose name is called over the loudspeaker because he’s the last
passenger that needs to board and the entire flight is waiting to leave. Or the guy who puts the coffee on the roof of his car in the morning and forgets to grab it and drives away. Spilling it everywhere. Have you thought lately about
what you would want to be? Well, I have. And now you get to hear all about it. I want to be honest and generous. I want to be Albert Einstein. Whose general theory of relativity forever changed the scientific world. I want to be patient,
loyal, and compassionate. I want to be Mother Theresa. Who helped the poorest of the poor and was known for her generous
spirit and selfless attitude. I want to be a smile
that lights up a room. I want to be Amelia Earhart. Who literally gave women their wings. Her courage was unsurpassed. I want to be my son, Therin. Who is a whiz at everything technology. I want to be fair and empathetic. I want to be Leonardo Da Vinci. The great thinker,
artist, and philosopher. I want to be my daughter Lauren. Who, in kindergarten wrote daily about life in the Flower Valley and how wonderful things were there. I want to be fashion
industry pioneer Coco Chanel. Who said, “The most courageous act is to still think for yourself aloud.” I want to be my son, Sydney. Who, in elementary school,
was clever enough to realize he had friends who did not
get along with each other. So, he scheduled his recess time to be able to play with all his friends and avoid any conflict. I want to be responsible and forgiving. I want to be a safe place. But not so safe that the
students will not take chances. I want to be my daughter, Addie. Who’s the fiercest competitor
you will ever meet. I want to be sincere and open-minded. I want to be my husband, Jamie. Who’s always informed
and keeps a level head regardless of the situation. I want to be strong and extraordinary. I want to be every
teacher at my schoolhome, Dudley Elementary. Because they all have such amazing, huge hearts for children. Finally, I want to be my mom. She was a lifelong learner who always put others before
herself no matter what. I figure, if I strive each
day to be all of these things and all of the other things that will undoubtedly be added to the list, then I will be a pretty
awesome me for my students. How about all of you? What do you want to be? Thank you. (applause) – Thank you, Delanna. And congratulations again. The Elk Grove Unified School District has two teachers of the year 2020. The first Elk Grove teacher
of the year is Julie Fong. Julie is a special education teacher at Elk Grove Elementary. She is being introduced by Breanna Urea. (applause) – Okay, I want to start off by saying I never thought I would be
at the point I was today. If it wasn’t for her, I
definitely wouldn’t be anywhere close. Trust me. But she helped me strive
to who I want to be. I want to be a teacher because of her. She taught me all of
the reading I know now. She would work with me with
every program she could. Kept trying until I couldn’t go any more. And I love her so, so, so much. And I want to thank her. Thank you, Miss Julie Fong. (applause) – Right, thank you, Breanna, for such an amazing introduction. I feel so lucky to have been your teacher. And I feel so blessed to be standing here before you tonight. Teaching is simultaneously the hardest and most rewarding profession. And I wouldn’t want to be doing
anything else with my life. Teaching is something I
fell into accidentally. As I was just looking for
service hours while in college. I have to thank Mister Chris Okasaku for welcoming me into
his classroom that year. In his classroom, I fell
in love with instruction. But, more importantly, I learned the power of building relationships and
connections with students. I still remember the joy
of seeing a student’s face when they finally accomplish something that had been previously
very difficult for them. It is the same reaction
that gets me every time. 21 years later. You included. Students are what make
teaching so rewarding. Without my students, I wouldn’t be standing before you today. Thank you to all of my
students, past and present, for helping me to grow
and learn as an educator. You’ve taught me so much about the importance of perseverance
in the face of adversity. And each experience with you opens my eyes to a new strategy that will help other students in the future. I must also thank my
coworkers and administrators. Thank you for always encouraging me to explore new opportunities and for believing in me when I didn’t always believe in myself. To my parents, you have
always been so supportive of my every endeavor all these years. Thank you. To my mom, who is a retired teacher, you were and continue to be my inspiration to be the best special educator I can be. Thank you to my dad and brothers who have tolerated the very
many long conversations about school and students that my mom still have every
single time we’re together. And, finally, to my loving husband, who is my biggest
cheerleader and supporter, you are my rock. The one I can always count on. Thank you for being my
partner in this life. I love you. And, to my sons, you
are the reason I strive to be the best teacher I can be for my students every single day. Thank you for being my inspiration and for your never
ending support and love. I love you more. (applause) – Thank you, Julie. And congratulations. The second Elk Grove teacher of the year is Christina Chun Moslen. Christina teaches theater at
Cosumnes Oaks High School. She’s being introduced by Regine Ford. (applause) – Hello and good evening to everyone. My name is Regine Ford. And I have the pleasure and honor of introducing to you all one of the biggest influencers
in my life, Mrs. Moslen. I met Mrs. Moslen when
I was in seventh grade, which is about nine years ago, after a school talent show. She encouraged me to audition for the school musical
that year and I did. Although it wasn’t until my
sophomore year in high school when I began to earn lead
roles, I never gave up, because I always had her
encouraging me to keep trying. It is because of her that I discovered my love and passion for theater. Just late last year, I
earned the opportunity to sing with some of my
favorite Broadway idols. Mrs. Moslen not only reached
out to congratulate me, but she offered to work with me on my song and provided me with a small
audience to perform for. Which was made up of some
of her current students. This is a kind of educator most parents can only hope their children
are lucky enough to have. She goes above and beyond what one would expect of a teacher. Her work doesn’t stop once
her students graduate. She wants to see them
succeed beyond graduation and throughout their lives. She has had such a
positive impact on my life. And I know I’m not the
only one who can say that. Her work for the school
community is unmatched. She teamed with a parent
to create this project called The Outlet, which provides students a healthy way to express themselves anonymously. It allows them a way of
releasing their burdens in a time of mass shootings and suicides. Having someone take a genuine
interest in a young person who is willing to guide
them into their adult life is invaluable. Mrs. Moslen is the epitome of
what an educator should be. She inspires her students and encourages them to
strive for greatness. She provides a safe environment and judge-free space for her
students can be themselves. And, as simple as it may sound, she cares. She didn’t have to create
the project like The Outlet, but she did because she recognizes us as not only her students,
but as young people. And, when you’re in middle
school and high school, I can tell you that goes a long way. I don’t know why she
chose to teach theater, but I am so glad that she did. Mrs. Moslen, congratulations. And, in behalf of all your
students, current and former, thank you. (applause) – Thank you so much, Regine. On behalf of the team, we
couldn’t be more proud of you. We’re really excited
to watch your journey. I’m also really excited
to be standing here with our new principal, Mister Jauregui, and Superintendent Hoffman. Who was also my high
school government teacher. (laughter) I learned a lot of things
while I was in his class. But I remember two
things very specifically. One is that I earned my B in government. That was the first. And the second was that, if I really did want
to teach AP US History, I was going to need to
double major in English to make myself more marketable. Little did I know that, number one, that Mister Hoffman would continue to be my mentor for the next 20 years. But that that piece of advice would be what would allow me to teach history and so many other subjects
through the lens of theater. I’m so thrilled to be here representing Elk Grove Unified. From kindergarten to
the Credential Program, in all but one year of teaching, I’ve had the privilege of collaborating and learning from some
of the best educators. I’m a proud member of
Wolfpack Performing Arts and our commitment to seven
through 12 articulation. And thank you to my colleagues
who are here tonight sharing this evening with me. I’m also here with my mom and my dad, who were my first teachers. And my wife, Bethany Moslen. An instrumental educator extraordinaire. I love you and you make
me a better teacher. So, thank you. I have to be honest, though. I am at my best when I am in
the wings while others shine. So, being in the spotlight has really been a challenge for me. On one hand, I want to be able to share with anyone who will listen that I believe that the arts
are the core of education. It’s because students
are given opportunities to apply skills that they
learn in other subjects. I want to yell from the rooftops that self-contained classrooms
are a phenomenon of the past and we can have more inclusive classrooms using secondary arts education as a model. But, as much as I want to
yell from the rooftops, there is one voice that’s
louder than all the rest. And that’s my internal
voice telling me that I’m not smart enough, experienced enough, and my subject matter
is not serious enough. And, if I’m a theater teacher who teaches skills to build confidence, I can only imagine what it must be like for young people or
educators who look like me. Actor America Ferrera, the first Latina to win
an Emmy Award, said, “Who we see thriving in the world teaches us how to see ourselves, how to think about our own value, how to dream about our futures.” For me, earning this award was
never about the recognition. As a queer woman of color, it was about doing the
work and allowing myself to be vulnerable in my spotlight so that others could see
themselves in theirs. So, for all of us who feel like they aren’t smart enough, strong
enough, or just not enough, know that your voice is valid, continue to let others shine
not by sitting in the wings, but by bringing them into your spotlight. Thank you and
congratulations to everybody. (applause) – Thank you, Christina. Full disclosure, when Christina taught at Elk Grove High School, she was my youngest son’s theater teacher. She cast him as guy in the
back row in Guys and Dolls. (laughter) And guy who almost gets on
stage in Much Ado About Nothing. So, thank you for that. Representing the Folsom
Cordova Unified School District as teacher of the year is Jessica Kahn. Jessica is part of the
Counseling Enriched Program at Navigator Elementary School. And she is being introduced
by D’Angelo Smalley. (applause) – Hello, good evening, everybody. I would like to start by saying thank you to my teacher right here. She was my teacher from
second grade and so on. After elementary school,
I worked my way out. I mainstreamed out of her class. She was always there for me. That’s one thing that I
could say about Miss Khan. I could call her Jessica now. So, one thing that I could say about her is she always put her students first. So, whenever a student needed anything, she was always there for us. She always put her students
first no matter what. No matter what a student
was going through. At the time, she knew I was
going through something. She herself was going through something. She tried to hide it. But the students are able to tell what she was going through. She never broke character. She was always there for us. And then I also want to thank
the aids that are in here. Miss Molena and Miss Richardson. And I can call them by
their first names now. Donna and Carrie. (laughter) So, thank you. Another thing that I want to say is she’s one of my first mentors. She always told me that I’d be a leader. She was one of my first mentors. Now I’m graduated. Still figuring out what I want to do. But she was one of my first mentors. She taught me a lot. She taught me a lot. She shaped me into the
man that I am today. And I thank her for it. Thank you, Miss Khan. (applause) You want to give me the dog? – Nah, she’s good. Thanks. Hello. This is Gigi. She’s a facility dog
that’s in our classroom. So, she really deserved
to be up here, as well. Gigi, sit. Down. Good girl. Stay. So, I am not a great public speaker. But I love props and visual aids. So, I brought some props and visual aids to help me through the night. I also do really like to dress up. Especially on PJ Day. Pajama Day. At an elementary school,
that’s a really big deal. And I make my entire team
dress up in the same costumes. They would not wear them tonight. Even though I really asked them to. But, you know, I had to go
with the actual adult outfit. So, when I heard that I had been selected as Folsom Cordova’s teacher of the year, I was incredibly honored. And I started to think about what makes a really special teacher. What makes a good teacher. Because there are so
many amazing teachers. We have a few here tonight. But, when I look at Folsom Cordova, I’m overwhelmed by how many
amazing teachers there are. And spectacular educators. And what they all are are people who have an incredible toolbox. I work with our students
on creating a toolbox. And we actually this year
will be building them. Oriental Trading, those
of you who are teachers. You can buy the kit. It’s not very expensive. And you can buy a little toolbox. And, in the toolbox, we put
our social-emotional skills on how you can cope with situations. As a teacher, I have some different tools. And they’re not tools for fixing things, ’cause I don’t work with
any broken students. I work on helping build
up students’ skills. So, let’s see what’s in my toolbox. The first thing that is in
my toolbox is the facilities. It’s kind of like this toolbox right here. Our facilities are beautiful. And we have amazing people
that take care of them. And that creates an environment where students feel safe and can learn. And that is so important. I also know how important curriculum is. And I don’t just mean curriculum
for reading and writing and science and math. Although I absolutely love
to teach those things. Probably the thing I’m most interested in is social and emotional learning. And, for me, responsive classroom
is a really big component. And, with that, I’ve learned that high expectations and
opportunities for social engagement allow for learning to
occur for every student. The other piece that’s really
helpful is social thinking. Created by Michelle Garcia Winner. And we use these props
in our classroom a lot. We have our thought bubble. And thought bubbles are really important. ‘Cause what’s in my thought bubble nobody else can see unless I tell them. And sometimes I have thoughts that are really important and
need to come out of my mouth. Like this is really hard. I need a break. Or something really
bad happened last night and I need to share it with you. But sometimes what teachers need. Sometimes students, too. But I find teachers
need this reminder that we have thoughts in our brains. And we say words with our mouths. And sometimes our thoughts
need to stay in our brain and not come out of our mouth. So, that’s important, too. Another huge component of our program are all of the board members and administrators and specialists. And they share their
expertise with us every day. They help us. Whether it’s helping students to succeed at a skill that is really
challenging at them, promoting equity, or helping us with diversity of our curriculum and representing all
students in what we do. So, I have my little visual aid here. Because this is my little handbook for Back to School Night, which talks about all of
our curriculum that we use. Of course, a really important
component of my program is. Uh oh. Oh, there it is. Is the parent participation. D’Angelo has an amazing mom. Yolanda, where are you? I don’t know where. Oh, there she is. She’s waving. Yolanda’s amazing. I know all the parents
in here are amazing. But I was lucky enough to actually have two of Yolanda’s kids in my program. And they are both amazing young men now. And I watched Yolanda support her child through a really tough time. And partner. And that’s what made all the difference. And I have here this lovely point sheet. It’s a behavior tool. We use all these. A lot of teachers do. But it’s the piece on the back where it allows comments and
communication back and forth that is so important. So, I really appreciate my parents. Of course, my coworkers. They let me vent. Because that’s really important. And they let me get really excited about planning silly
lessons that are so great. But they’re really magical only once they add that little spark. And it’s talking about it that helps me make my lessons so great. They take that mediocre
lesson and add the magic. For me, some of the people
that are most important are the front office people. Because, as a kid, I almost
dropped out of high school. Actually, I did drop out of high school. And, luckily, went back. But those office staff were the ones that greeted me every day. And they didn’t say, “Why are you late?” ‘Cause I was always late. Instead they said, “I’m
so glad you’re here.” And they were the ones that
made that difference for me. And I have to have the dogs. Because, when you’re having a bad day, when a dog comes up to
you and wags its tail and says, “You’re special,”
everybody feels better. And, of course, the students. Because they often come to me after they’ve had some school failure. And sometimes some failures at home. And they get a chance to
learn that they are a leader. And they are somebody
that can learn and grow and make a difference in this world. And I couldn’t do my job without them. So, really, I have a
few other props in here. But I don’t need to show them all. What I love with my visual aids is thinking about a Venn diagram. ‘Cause I’m a teacher. And a Venn diagram. Would you like to be my Vanna? Oh, thank you. So, this is a Venn diagram. And a lot of people think that there’s the students and the teacher and they work together and that’s it. But, really, my Venn diagram is way more complicated than that. Thank you. Because my Venn diagram
looks something like this. It takes all those amazing people. Whether it’s the facilities, the parents, obviously the kids, my coworkers, my dogs to focus right there in the middle to create an education for this child. Thank you. (applause) – Thank you, Jessica. Representing the Galt Joint
Union High School District as teacher of the year is Johnathan Jonas. He teaches English at Galt High School. He’s being introduced by Markus Hand. – Good evening. My name is Markus Hand. I’m currently a senior
at Galt High School. I first met Mister Jonas four years ago at freshman orientation. I didn’t really get to know him. School took its time to get
back in the rhythm of things. And I would ultimately join a club. This club would be Galt Tech, which is Galt High School’s robotics club. When we would travel to our competitions, Mister Jonas would more
than likely be the driver. So, as the season went on, I would get more familiar with
him and thought to myself, “I have to be in one of his classes.” I wanted to try out
for at least one sport. Little did I know he was
also the tennis coach. Plenty of memories were made that season. And, at the time, Mister
Jonas was teaching sophomores. And, all summer, I was
hoping to be in his class. But, of course, he got
the great opportunity to teach AP English for seniors. So, I figured I’d have
to wait a couple years. Now it’s my senior year and I can officially say
I have him as a teacher. Mister Jonas really means a lot to me. He’s the type of person you can talk to, really, about anything and everything. He has helped me become a better person in words I can’t explain. I sincerely thank you, Mister Jonas. And congratulations, teacher of the year. (applause) – Thank you, Markus. And thank you to all
the students here today. We teachers truly have
the unique experience of seeing humanity, like Markus, restored each and every day with our students’ indomitable spirit, their unending quirkiness,
and their unique perspectives. We are essentially academic nosferatus. And, without you, our amazing students, we can never do what we do. From simply saying hello
from across the hall or getting to watch you walk across that stage at graduation, you are why we do what we do. You are why we love our jobs. It is an honor to be in this room with all of you tonight. Students, teachers, and guests. I’m so blessed to have the opportunity to work in this field. I’m also blessed for the
many people in my life who have fostered my love of literature and my passion for education. As for teaching, my
efforts at Galt High School would not be possible without
the support of our staff. All who work tirelessly to assist us in and out of our classrooms. Thank you, Sean and Melissa,
for all that you do. I would also not be the teacher I am today if it were not for the
guidance and motivation from two amazing women that
are here with me tonight. If it were not for them, I
wouldn’t be standing here. And my dream is to someday be at least half the impressive
teachers that they are. They have been there since day one. And I am forever grateful. As for literature, my dad told me one day he had read all of Hemingway’s novels before he graduated high school. And, as a typical teen, I
said, “Challenge accepted.” What he did was foster my love of reading. This is the same father who, if you gave him a book on Christmas, you had to make sure it
was the last present. Else you would lose him
for the rest of the day. Reading has immense magnitude and power. Reading, through its universal themes, can transcend the
constraints of time and space and allows us to live numerous experiences one page at a time. And it is just that I
hope for my students. I hope that they find their own Hemingways and venture into the world
of reading and thrive. My job is to give them
every opportunity to do so and every tool that they need. I truly believe that, through reading, we become more compassionate
and empathic towards others. And, with that compassion and empathy, our students will be the change
that we need in this world. Lastly, I would like to thank my fiance. Who sits through numerous hours of papers scattered across our table, endures my enthralling
play by play of the day, and never stops believing in me. She makes me feel like a superhero. And every teacher needs that. It’s exactly what we are. Thank you. (applause) – Thank you, Johnathan,
and congratulations again. Representing the Natomas
Unified School District as teacher of the year is Jennifer Nunes. Jennifer is a special education teacher at American Lakes School. Hi, bud. She is being introduced
by Arkani Laser Finch. – Good evening. My name is Arkani Finch
from elementary school. I would like to give
this award to Miss Nunes. Congratulations. (applause) – Okay, thank you so much,
Arkani, for the introduction. I am super excited to be here. And honored to be representing Natomas Unified School District. I would like to give a big congratulations to all of the teachers
of the year here tonight for such an achievement. While I am honored and
proud of this award, there are many people responsible for and deserving of this recognition. I would like to start by acknowledging and thanking my colleagues
for their influence. They are a big reason why
I’m here for many reasons. I have held several different
teaching assignments over the course of my 21
plus years of teaching. I’ve been a special day class teacher, a resource specialist,
an inclusion specialist, and a general education teacher. I have instructed and supported students in grades K through 12 in a wide variety of educational settings. And, while I have learned and grown through experiences in
all these assignments, my greatest professional successes have been when I was part of a strong, dynamic, and talented team. Being a successful teacher
is impossible in a silo. Collaboration and camaraderie are crucial for both growth and perseverance. I have learned so much
from all of my colleagues. Teachers, specialists, and
instructional assistants. I’ve worked with some wonderful people. There have been some tough
years that, looking back, have actually been the best years. I learned so much about myself, my craft, my students, and how
successful teams function. My instructional practices,
management abilities, and problem solving skills
all evolve exponentially. Those were the years where I collected the most tools for my
toolbox out of necessity and made lifelong friends. People who started out
as phenomenal teammates inspiring me on a daily basis. Every successful team
has amazing team leaders. I’d like to thank my administrators
for being here tonight and for their constant support. I appreciate working in a
district that fosters innovation. I’m always encouraged to
generate and implement new ideas. If we don’t take chances in
our own learning and growth, how can we expect our students to do that? At Natoma, teachers
are actively encouraged to support each other,
share their knowledge, and hone their leadership skills. Stretching their skills as a
professional in new directions. Again, the message that
we are stronger as a team and every team member has an
important perspective to offer is something I feel is
modeled to me every day with my peers and administrators. I would like to thank my
husband and my family, who are also here with me tonight, for all of their love,
support, and acceptance of my addiction to the dollar aisle. I’m sure all of you have that, as well. Comes with the territory. Again, it takes a team. Every family member here tonight has supported me in my
career in many ways. I’m sure everyone here has had their significant other help them move into a new classroom
or several new classrooms over the course of a long career. Had their own parents
donate school supplies to their classroom. Or even a minifridge for the classroom as a birthday present. We all know how much our
own families support us. And I truly appreciate my team at home. Last, but most importantly,
I’d like to thank my students and their families. Thank you, Arkani, for being here tonight. Thank you, Arkani’s
family, for being here. My students are amazing. We are all a team in our
classroom and school community. Every child has something to offer. Every child has something to say. And every child has areas of
strength and areas of need. We all learn from each
other and work together so that students build skills toward becoming productive
and independent adults. ‘Cause that is the endgame
for all of our kids, I think, for us teachers. And, every day, their parents work with me and entrust me with what they
cherish most in the world. And that is truly an honor. So, thank you. (applause) – Congratulations, Jennifer. And thank you, Arkani. Great job. Representing the River Delta
Unified School District as teacher of the year is Brandi Gomes. She is an English teacher
at Rio Vista High School. It’s okay to applaud. It’s fine. (applause) Introducing her is Megan Delancy. (applause) – Hello, my name is Megan Delancy. And I’m really grateful to be here tonight representing Miss Gomes. I was lucky enough to have
her for three classes, my AP Language class, my AP
Lit class, and my AVID class, when I was at Rio Vista High School. Even though sitting in
a class for 90 minutes can sometimes be really boring, I was always looking
forward going to her class, because it meant something crazy or funny to talk about that day. And it was something I
looked forward to every day. We were a really crazy class. After being Miss Gomes’s
student for two years, I learned a lot along the way. And I can say, without a doubt, that she’s one of the
most genuinely caring and dedicated people
that I’ve gotten to know. No matter how many papers she was grading, essays she was reading, or
meetings she was scheduled for, she always went above and beyond to ensure that each of us
were completing our lessons, completely understanding everything, and always prepared us for the future. Miss Gomes, your classroom was always very welcoming and inclusive. And I think I speak for
everybody in my class and everybody who’s in your class now when I say thank you for
everything that you’ve done for us. Yeah, that’s it. (applause) – Thank you so much, Megan. Tonight, I feel honored
and humbled to have the opportunity to be
included in this room full of outstanding educators. I’m grateful for the
support of my colleagues, the administration at
Rio Vista High School, and the River Delta
Unified School District. Without their support, I would be limited in my ability to achieve my goals of supporting all students. Education really requires a community to operate effectively. And I am very fortunate to have a thriving and a cohesive community who see the importance
in offering our students every support needed to
them to achieve their goals. Such as integrating
school-wide AVID strategies at Rio Vista High School to helping me create a
writing center on campus. While many enter the education profession as a result of interaction with a truly inspirational teacher, my path to become a teacher actually arose as a result of struggling throughout my formative years in school. Learning was never easy for me and I was often discouraged. My father, who worked as a
teacher as a young adult, was my main motivator and constant support throughout my life. He always believed in my abilities to achieve any goal I set for myself. Modeling patience, trust,
love, and adaptability all along the way. No matter how many times others told me I was unable to accomplish
a goal or a task, my father was there behind me. Reminding me that, as long as I was willing to put in the work, he would support me in whichever
path or goal that I chose. When I graduated college, I did not plan to become
a teacher at first. I actually started in the radio business and as a journalist. It’s not until later I
discovered the pure joy from working with students and helping them achieve their goals. When I decided to enter
the teaching profession, I modeled my teaching practices
after my father’s model of trust, patience, and
adaptability and caring to ensure that all my students prosper. It is only through these
values that we, as educators, can build those relationships
with our students and help them find their own voices and to feel powerful in society. Similarly, it is only through
our interactions with students that we can help shape our world and make it a better place. Education’s more than learning facts. It’s about creating community,
learning from one another, student and teacher alike, and developing a voice
to realize one’s agency. We cannot reach our
students or expect teachers to become stronger and
more effective educators without building those
relationships and community. If we do not treat our
classrooms as a space where we all learn, teach, and
are valued in that process, we’ll never reach our students. And we, as teachers,
will not be able to be the most effective that we can be. As Paolo Freire stated, “Education does not change the world. Education changes people. People change the world.” Thank you, again, River Delta Unified and Rio Vista High School. And my family for supporting me. And congratulations to
all the teachers here that are honored today. Thank you. (applause) – Thank you and
congratulations again, Brandi. Representing the Robla School District as teacher of the year is Jonathan Byram. (applause) Let’s hear it. Jonathan teaches sixth
grade at Bell Avenue School. And he’s being introduced
by Jeremiah Tooee Lailah. (applause) – Hi, good evening, everyone. My name is Jeremiah. And my former school was Bell Elementary. I’m very honored to be up here to present this teacher award to one of the most
caring and compassionate teacher to a student. What I’ve learned being in his class was learning was not
always a serious matter. To one of the most caring. I mean. Oh, sorry. Joking was one of the ways to
keep us focused on learning. He made it fun and interesting every day. My most memorable moment with
him was playing basketball. Out of maybe eight games, I won once. Hopefully soon we can
have another matchup. (laughter) Lastly, I really want to
say you really deserve this teacher of the year award. Thank you for everything you do for the community and your
students, Mister Byram. (applause) – That’s hard to follow. Goodness. Jeremiah, thank you so much
for being here tonight. That was incredible. I’ve gotten to work with and
know a lot of students and kids over the course of my career. Even though it’s been rather short. I’ve worked as a summer camp counselor an after school teacher and
an instructional assistant, as well as a classroom teacher. And I’m uncertain about a
lot of things in my life. But I am certain that
this guy’s going places. I’ve yet to meet a student as hardworking, responsible, respectful,
and engaging as Jeremiah. Students like him are
what make teaching great. Can we give him one more
round of applause, please? (applause) I wasn’t quite sure how
I wanted to use my time up here tonight. And I thought of the saying “It takes a village to raise a child.” And I thought, sometimes,
it takes a village to support a teacher. So, I’d like to use my time to thank a good amount of people who
have helped me be here tonight. But, before I do that, I
thought I should tell you that I got into teaching, obviously,
because of the award. So, it’s finally paid off. (laughter) I’m just kidding. I’m just kidding. I do have about 10,000 thank yous. And I promise I won’t
say all 10,000 tonight. But, to my parents and my brother and my sister that are here, they’ve been role models since I was born. Thank you very much. (applause) There is also Mitch and Jenna Ruby. Who have been life coaches and therapists and friends and colleagues for the last seven years of my life. And they have been wonderful people. Lindsey Hall is here tonight. And she’s watched a ton of my lessons and been brutally honest at times and very supportive at times, also. So, I would not be here
without her, as well. My principal, Lisa Hall,
is here with me tonight. She encourages me every day to be better and always, always has my back. Last, but certainly not least, my wife is here with me tonight. And, oftentimes, my non-teacher friends ask me what life is like as a teacher. And I usually say something like, “Well, I spend about 80% of my life thinking about school or at school. I spend about 15% of my life with my wife. Paying attention to her. And then 5% on everything else.” She’s been behind me 100% of the way. There’s been long nights
and frustrating days. The week I’m gone at science
camp is rough, as well. She’s a wonderful human being and I’m incredibly lucky
to have her in my life. To close, when I was in grad school, I was told that being a teacher is like being Atlas from Greek mythology. We carry so much weight on our shoulders. Sometimes we’re teachers
and friends and parents and role models and
therapists and so much more. Sometimes that weight feels unbearable. Sometimes we feel crushed by it. But there are few professions as supportive as the teaching profession. So, I just wanted to say thank you to everyone here tonight for the work you do for your students. As well as how much
you support each other. And thank you for your
hard work and dedication. (applause) – Thank you, Jonathan. Congratulations. But you gotta work on
that 15% for your wife. (laughter) Trust me. (laughter) The Sacramento City
Unified School District has two teachers of the year. The first is Heidi Gaynor. Heidi teaches math at
Sutter Middle School. And she is being introduced
by Tristan Kuskey. (applause) – Oh, wow, that is a lot of people. Okay, should I just go straight into it? Okay, the first day of seventh grade, my classmates and I
walked into our math class to be greeted by Miss Gaynor telling us to organize our
seating based on our birthdays. You can imagine how that went. 75% of the class stood
looking around like, “What’s my birthday?” And the other 25% asked
literally every person who walked into the door
“What’s your birthday?” And then provided no further explanation. Afterwards, we all sat down in our seats until we talked so much
Miss Gaynor had to move us. And she looked at all of us. And she said, “What’d you think?” We then came up with a list of ways to work together effectively in a group that ended up lasting us the entire year. One of the magical things about being in Miss Gaynor’s class was that she made every lesson fun and interactive. And, without really realizing it, we learned how to work
together toward a common goal. The school year with Miss Gaynor is one of the most
memorable I have ever had. We had many inside class jokes that made the entire class at ease. For weeks, we were trapped
on a deserted island with three other team members. Forced to fight nature with math until one team was crowned the champion of survival of the fittest. In another classroom competition, we wandered the streets of
Sacramento from our desks with only pairs of shoes and beef jerky until one team won the Miner Quest Race. Miss Gaynor is amazing at taking less comfortable math students and pairing them with the
more accomplished students to bring out the best in
everyone together as a team. She made the material fun and easy. And she connected with the students to help them perform better. She taught the material in a
way that everyone understood. No matter how fast it clicked for you. Being in Miss Gaynor’s class was one of the greatest academic
experiences in my entire life. And it wasn’t the curriculum. In a school of great teachers, the only question about Miss Gaynor being named teacher of the year was “What took you people so long?” (laughter) Miss Gaynor is a favorite
at Sutter Middle School. Besides, who can argue with only two homework assignments a week? I am very proud to introduce Miss Gaynor. (applause) – So, I knew you were going to be amazing. But I appreciate everything. Thank you. Good evening. Thank you to Tristan and
to all the other students that were speaking tonight. You are the reason we love what we do. What does it mean to be a teacher? For me, teaching is so much more than helping my students
learn mathematical concepts. I want them to learn
important lifelong skills, such as working with other people, communicating their thinking in a clear and respectful manner, and being able to embrace
the ideas of others. I want my students to be
resilient problem solvers. Both in the classroom and
in their personal lives. And I strive to instill these skills through the learning that takes place. I believe building
meaningful relationships with each student, creating a safe learning environment where mistakes are embraced, and presenting students with rigorous and thought provoking tasks will help them reach
their academic potential. It might even get them to
like math a little bit. I am honored to be recognized alongside all the amazing
educators here tonight. I would like to thank my
principal, Mrs. Tahara, for her unwavering
support through the years. And trusting me to do
right by my students. And thank you to my assistant principal, Miss Michelle Hanson,
for all of your support. I would like to thank Sac City Unified for the incredible honor of
representing our district alongside Seema. We are a district filled with talented, hardworking,
and dedicated teachers who want nothing but the
best educational experience for our students. I would not be the teacher I am today without the people I work
alongside on a daily basis. My colleagues continue to push me to be better than I was the day before. Especially my best friend Andrea. A big thank you to my
parents who are here tonight. You have stood by me. Supporting me in everything I do. And to my husband Charlie. Somebody already claimed this. But I’m willing to arm wrestle them. You are my biggest cheerleader in life. Always seeing the best in me. I appreciate Sacramento County for making this event happen and giving all of us an opportunity to celebrate with our colleagues, family, friends, and students. Thank you. (applause) – Thank you, Heidi. And congratulations. The second Sacramento City
Unified School District teacher of the year is Seema Sokolis. Seema teaches a special day class for students with autism at James Marshall Elementary School. And she is being
introduced by Paula Gusman. – Good evening. I’m Conny’s sister. And I’m representing Miss Seema from James Marshall Elementary School. And she’s my teacher. My sister’s teacher. And my sister is Ausperger. And we want to thank
you for all this award, love, and help that
you have given to Conny and all your students. Thank you. (applause) – I am so honored to be here tonight representing Sac City Unified. And I am a person who is
not good at public speaking. And it’s always funny
when a teacher says it. Because you spend your day
talking to people all day long. But the little people. They look at you and they’re like, “Okay, you’re my teacher, whatever.” Like, they get over it. And, over the 15 years being in education, every day is a new day. Every day is a challenge. And I got into special education not knowing what I was doing. But I got it in. And I love it. Because of the challenge. And, every day, I go to work. I’m like, “I don’t know what to expect.” And, at the end of the day, it’s the kids who came in struggling so hard
and had so many challenges and you see them accomplish
things at the end of the year. You go, “This is why I do it.” And, to be here tonight with
so many wonderful teachers, I’m just truly honored
to hear everyone’s story and be a part of this team. Thank you. (applause) – Thank you, Seema. And congratulations again. Representing the Sacramento
County Office of Education as teacher of the year is Austin Roughton. Austin is an outdoor
science education teacher at the Sly Park Environmental
Education Center. And introducing Austin is Kiefer Wilbur. (applause) – Hello, my name is Kiefer Wilbur. I went to Sly Park on March 4-8, 2019. My teacher was Timber or Austin Roughton. While we were there, it rained a lot and Timber encouraged myself and others to hike in the rain, cross a
stream that was up to my knees, and not give up. Our group would have had a hard time crossing the stream without his leadership and his patience. He taught us about the plants, animals, and stars in Sly Park. Timber is an amazing teacher who is calming, patient, kind, positive, and knows a lot about nature. I was lucky to have him
as a teacher in Sly Park. Here is Timber. Also known as Austin Roughton. (applause) – Kiefer, thank you so much. This is really unique, because I don’t often get that. I see students for a week. And I say goodbye to them on a Friday. And this is maybe once in
a lifetime to hear that feedback from a student. So, thanks, man. Now, I’d like to share
with you, to start with, a quote from the author Miguel Cervantes who wrote Don Quixote. And it goes like this. “Strive to know thyself. For it is the most difficult
lesson in the world.” As an outdoor science teacher at Sly Park, this lesson is one I live by and one which I convey to my students in different ways every week. Rain, snow, or shine. Kiefer is an example of that. Students come to Sly Park for an exciting outdoor education adventure. But what they may not realize
is that it’s more than that. So much more. It’s an exploration of independence, of social and emotional growth, and it’s a time to
reflect on new experiences and how they shape who you are. It’s also a pretty unique place for a fifth or sixth grade student to start to chip away
at that lifelong goal of understanding who you are. Now, for some of my students, the impact of that experience happens over the course of a day. When they conquer a tough hike. Again, Kiefer, you conquered
so many tough hikes. Or maybe it’s a newfound bravery from holding a millipede
for the first time in their hands on the trail. But, for many like myself, the impact of that experience
comes later in life. When you’re faced with an obstacle and you find yourself thinking back to sixth grade outdoor ed. And I have no doubt that
everyone in this room tonight, regardless of if you went
to an outdoor science camp, can think back to a challenge in your life that a teacher helped
to guide you through. Now, it’s this lifelong
impact that I seek every week to help students achieve by
the time they leave Sly Park. And, because the knowledge that, yes, you can persevere
in the face of adversity, is one of the most
extremely valuable things to know about yourself. Now, while I can’t always
know when or what type of impact my teaching
will have on students, one thing I do know is how guiding others has helped me to know myself better. And I found a niche in being a teacher that allows me to share
my curiosity for the world while also allowing me to grow and reflect and really learn every
single day I’m with students. And, throughout my own journey, I have been supported by
a community of people. Some of whom are here tonight. Mister Nelson. And, those people here tonight, they have fostered my self-discovery while also shaping me into
the teacher I am today. And, for that, I am so
very, very grateful. And I am one step closer to
knowing more about myself. So, thank you to my community. And thank you to the teachers. And thank you to everybody in this room supporting the teachers and the students. It’s an honor. Thank you. (applause) – Thank you, Timber. And congratulations. The San Juan Unified School District has two teachers of the year. The first is Diane Boyd. Diane teaches English as
Mesa Verde High School. And she’s being introduced by David Kulp. (applause) – Good evening, everyone. My name is David Kulp. And I’m gonna try my
best to put into words the indefinable qualities
that Miss Boyd possesses as a person, a teacher, and a friend. I don’t think she expects me to make a joke or two while I’m up here. But with such a short period of time, I wouldn’t be able to fit everything that needs to be said about her. Although we’re colleagues now, I still find it difficult to
call her by her first name. And, for a while, I wondered why that is. And then it hit me. No matter the circumstance, Miss Boyd will always be my teacher. Because a teacher isn’t just someone you see for one period a day or until you graduate high school. A teacher is someone who is committed to getting the very best
out of their students by any means necessary. Miss Boyd is the living
and breathing embodiment of this characteristic. She’s a teacher that’s willing to go toe to toe with her students. Which I can assure you
is a sight to behold. (laughter) Because she isn’t afraid to push them to their true potential. No matter how hard they push back. She is someone who cares
deeply for her students’ emotional and intellectual wellbeing. So much, in fact, that she frequently puts their needs before her own. In her classroom, each and
every one of her students are treated as complex individuals
with something to offer. Which effectively creates an arena of freeflowing ideas, social
equality, and mutual respect. On my own road to becoming a teacher, there was no one I would
consult more quickly and with more trust than Miss Boyd. But the strange thing is she was and still is legitimately eager to help. There isn’t a problem too complex or an obstacle too wide that prevents her from doing all that she can to make things better for someone. I’m confident in saying that there are thousands of people, former students, friends, colleagues, that are simply better off having known this wonderful human being. It’s my honor and pleasure
to introduce Miss Diane Boyd. (applause) – Okay. (laughter) It is such an honor to be
standing before you tonight representing the San Juan
Unified School District and Mesa Verde High School. I often joke that there should be an Academy Awards for education. You know, like best performance
in a crisis situation. Or best writer about AP goals. So, this is kind of like winning the Oscar for actor in a leading role. (laughter) However, just like in the movies, it’s not so much the magic of the actor as it is a reflection of
all the other cast members. The writer, the director,
the costume designer. Really wish I had one of those. And I’ve been fortunate in my career to have been surrounded by
an amazing supporting cast. Many of whom are with me tonight. So, thank you for your
contribution to my successes. (applause) From my mother who always told
me that I could do anything. Whether that was to be the first female quarterback in the NFL. I settled for NBA cheerleader. Or the first female justice
of the Supreme Court. Thank you for ruining that
dream, Sandra Day O’Connor. Or the first in our
family to go to college. Which I did. To my principals, who took a chance on me, who trusted me with systemic change, and gave me the reins to some
pretty incredible programs. To my friends and colleagues, who took risks with me,
answered late night texts, celebrated victories,
and lamented defeats. To my students, who taught me
compassion and flexibility, to fight for what’s right, and to remain tenacious in
the pursuit of equity for all. To my own children, Tanner and Ellie, who gave up precious time with their mom while I was busy grading
essays and planning lessons, creating professional development, answering questions about
WASC and AVID and leadership. They taught me patience and challenged me to
look at my own profession through their experiences. To my extended and adopted family, who continued to give me sage
words of wisdom and guidance and unconditional love. Whenever I doubted myself or my abilities, whenever I was lost or
looking for a challenge, these people were there to lift me up, to help me shine, to give me both opportunity and encouragement. My supporting cast has helped me to become the best educator that I can possibly be. Do the best job for our students. In the immortal words
of Academy Award winning best character ever written Rocky Balboa, (laughter) “Every champion was once a contender who refused to give up.” So, thank you all for being in my corner and for always helping
me continue to fight. Now, let’s go teach that
lesson to our students. Thank you so much. Good night. (applause) – The second San Juan
Unified School District teacher of the year is Svetlana Popov. Svetlana is. Applaud, please. (applause) She is a math teacher at
Rio Americano High School. And introducing her is Annika Bjorn. I’m sorry. Bjork. (applause) – Good evening, everybody. And thank you all so much for being here as we celebrate a very
important night in this year. To start, I’d like to congratulate all the amazing educators
who are here tonight. As a student, I’m extremely privileged to be able to be taught by
people like you every single day. For me, one of the most
incredible educators I’ve ever had was Miss Popov. My freshman year math teacher. It’s rare that I have a teacher who’s completely devoted
to helping students learn all of the material necessary and not just focus on receiving top grades in his or her class. Miss Popov has had lots of
experience teaching students, including seven years at
Will Rogers Middle School. But, for the past three years, we have been more than fortunate to have her at Rio Americano High School. As I was saying earlier, Miss Popov was my freshman
year math teacher. From day one, she brought so
much passion and enthusiasm into the classroom. Which made all of us
feel welcome as students. Especially in a math classroom,
this is very important. Because math is a difficult
subject for a lot of students. So, Miss Popov’s positive and fun attitude helped make this subject
a lot more enjoyable to learn for many of us. In addition, Miss Popov’s
doors are always open to students who are
willing to push themselves to learn extra on their own time. She does tutoring in the mornings, tutoring on her lunch break,
and tutorings after school. Me, as a student, I came
in many mornings a week, as well as lunches, to help develop my personal mastery of math. And I know that many of my peers took advantage of this, as well. In addition, she is
with you on your journey through all of your successes
and all of your failures. She really wants to push you to become the best student you can be. And, for that, all of us
are eternally grateful. So, enough of hearing me talk. I’d like you all to hear from this incredible educator, Miss Popov. (applause) – Hello, everyone. She exposed couple of secrets
I didn’t tell my family. They don’t know I’m there
at lunchtime, as well. They think I’m eating my lunch. Sorry. (laughter) Anyway, I’m honored to receive
such a high recognition for doing what I love to do. Teach mathematics. I guess this is my
chance to publicly thank my dear friends and family for
supporting me on my journey. So, I would like to thank people who were part of shaping me into a teacher and person that I am today. But, first of all, I would like to thank God and this country for
allowing me to immigrate 22 years ago and use the
opportunities given me to be what I am today. Thank you so much. I cannot thank you enough. (applause) I don’t think I was even
able to dream of today’s day. I didn’t think it would
happen or it existed. I mean, it could have been this. Thank you. Then I would like to thank my students. They’re the reason I’m here. They’re the ones that have
to understand my accent. And listen to my
analogies of math concepts to real life every single day. I remember my first year
of teaching at Will Rogers. I was so nervous that I thought the kids did not understand my teaching. They wouldn’t show up the next day. Then I learned the school’s mandatory. They have to come. (laughter) That was a little later. So, I want to thank
their parents, as well. They trusted me to educate their students. Thank you. ‘Cause, every time the
student looked at me and said, “I don’t understand,” that was my challenge to go home and find another way to teach. So, thank you. Next, I would like to thank my family. I heard that, back in the days, teachers were not allowed to be married. Because it was believed that you cannot be a good mom and a good teacher at the same time. The more I teach, the more
I believe that statement. (laughter) That 15%. I’m not gonna calculate
the percentage of mine. But I would like to thank my family. Because they sacrificed a lot. I know, in order to
spend time with my kids, they had to come and tutor my students. This is the time we spent together. If they have days off at their school, they come and teach my
students some math tricks. Yes. My little Dasha, a nine year old, she was just recently in my class teaching my high schoolers how to multiply by 11 trick mentally. Thank you, Dasha. I would like to thank my husband. Who saw this passion
in me and supported me. There were times when I wanted to give up. He didn’t allow that to happen. Thank you for listening
to me day after day bragging about my students. How great of a job I have versus yours. (laughter) Thank you for not forcing me or even expecting me to cook every night. Because I have papers to grade. Thank you. I would like to thank my colleagues. First of all, Carol
Partner, thank you so much. I was working with Carol Partner. Sorry, I just called you by
first name first time ever. I was working with her as a peer educator. And she’s the first teacher who allowed me to experiment my new ideas with her students. It was safe. They were not mine yet. Thank you so much. Thank you for revising
my papers day and night. Every time I have to
write a paper for college or sometimes to send to my
parents, she gets it first. Fixes EL mistakes and then I send it to
sound more professional. Thank you. Thank you, Kirsten Snyder, for supporting me at Will
Rogers Middle School. That was my boot camp. And, without me, I wouldn’t
be able to survive. Thank you. Thank you, Sharon Horn. Who is teaching my daughter every week. And I can listen to her
and steal her ideas. And implement with my students. Thank you. I would like to thank Gabriel Cooper. He was my former principal. What amazing about Gabe. He’s not judging you. And he’s willing to buy you
endless number of books. (laughter) To show that you still need
to grow as a professional. Thank you. I would like to thank now my
principal and administrators. Brian Ginter. He wasn’t able to be here. And Rob Kerr. They’re willing to put
up with my new ideas. And they’re like, what,
almost every week they’re new. And I get so excited. I talk about it. And then I kind of think about it. And then, maybe a little later. And there are some ideas
that I talk about it. And start implementing now. So, thank you for being patient. You’re the best
administration to work for. I guess, in conclusion, I want to be. Again, thank you for this honor. And I’m really so happy
to be part of educators and this education system. ‘Cause shaping the new generation. That’s what we’re here for. And I want us to be proud of. Thank you. (applause) – Thank you, Svetlana. Congratulations to you. The Twin Rivers Unified School District has two teachers of the year. The first is Elizabeth Coleman. Elizabeth teaches second grade
at Woodbridge Elementary. At Woodridge Elementary School. And she is being introduced
by Brandy Harris. (applause) – Hello, my name is Brandy Harris and I am one of Miss
Coleman’s Caterpillars. That is the name we
chose in the fall of 1991 when we were pulled from
our second grade classes into a first/second grade
combination with Miss Coleman. In second grade, I was very, very awkward. My mom gave me an awful haircut. I had to get a lot of braces and issues. And I was a very nervous little girl. And Miss Coleman was loving
and made me feel special. She made us a book at the end of the year. Which our six year old daughter just brought home her
own book this past year. And it had my writings and my
pictures and things like that. And it was something that I
treasured into growing up. I stand before you today as a teacher. I teach eight grade US History in the same district where I grew up. And one of the reasons why
is because of Miss Coleman. I was inspired by Miss Coleman to give my heart and
everything to my kids. I know that my kids are my kids way after they’re no longer my students. Miss Coleman has been there for me. Years after I was her student, she rushed to my parent’s
home with food and hugs when my family suffered
an awful, awful tragedy. I hope that one day my kids think of me in the same way that I
think of Miss Coleman. And I know that her previous
students think of her. And that is with a lot
of love and appreciation for the most amazing teacher I have known. So, it’s my honor to present Miss Coleman. (applause) – Thank you, Brandy. I feel very privileged
to have you here with me. You’re so special to
me as my former student and now a teacher and wonderful role model for your own students. Thank you, too, to my family. Who’s here being loving
and supportive, as always. And, of course, thank you to
my principal, Shawna Newton. And Twin Rivers for allowing me to be one of the two teachers
to represent our district. When I was young and would tell people I wanted to become a teacher, I’d sometimes hear “Those who can, do. And those who can’t, teach.” Well, I have two parents who
were extraordinary teachers and role models for me. So, I didn’t believe it then. And I certainly don’t believe it now. Especially being in a room filled with so many wonderful educators. It’s both an honor and very humbling to be included in such a group. As all of us are aware, every child has an imagination ready to explore and the ability to learn and achieve. It’s our job as educators
to unlock that potential. Public education is a great equalizer in a society becoming
increasingly stratified between the haves and the have nots. And that’s not the only things
that’s challenging our kids in a rapidly changing world. We must be able to creatively
present the curriculum in the most effective way possible. When I was in school, we got As when we memorized facts presented to us. Our students have to do so much more. They need skills to
distinguish fact from fiction in a world where alternative facts exist. They need to see through the
noise and get to the truth. In addition, tomorrow’s jobs will require critical thinking and collaboration from a workforce that must problem solve with creativity and innovation. Furthermore, classrooms
are more diverse than ever. Modeling compassion, tolerance,
and acceptance for all teaches children to become
self-confident adults who will make a difference. When young people ask me if
they should become teachers, I absolutely say yes. We’re in a wonderful profession where we get our children
at the ground level. We have the ability to
make a big difference. How many of us know how exciting it feels to see a child make a breakthrough? We can and do make an impact. Ours is one of the toughest jobs. But comes with the most
immeasurable rewards. We get to be the champions for our kids. All of us here tonight know being positive liaisons
to the outside world and sharing ourselves and experiences creates connections and
builds relationships. As we all do in our corners of the world with our colleagues. We must continue to collaborate, mentor, and send our students off with a strong educational
background and foundation and the knowledge that there are people who will always believe in them. Thank you so much. (applause) – Thank you, Lizbeth. And congratulations. The second Twin Rivers
Unified School District teacher of the year is Gewon Richards. Gewon teaches US History
and English Language Arts at Vista Nueva Career and
Technology High School. Introducing Gewon is Allisandra Cabrera. (applause) – I would like to say
that it is a great honor to stand up here and introduce one of my favorite teachers
at Vista Nueva High School. Throughout my two years at Vista, Miss Richards helped me a lot. In the past, I’ve had teachers who’ve never helped me with anything. But Miss Richards is
not the type of teacher to give up on any of her students. She will sit by your side until you know or at least understand what you are doing. She is not one to judge on whether you know something or not. Miss Richards helped me from having all Fs to almost all As. She can be hard on her students. But for all very good reasons. She does not want to see
any of her students fail. She wants to see each and
every one of her students walk that stage on graduation day. And it is not every day that you get to have a teacher
as hardworking and driven as Miss Richards. So, I would like to
thank her for making sure that graduating is possible for me. (applause) – I left my notes on the table. (laughter) But that’s gonna be
’cause I’m still in shock. When they called my name at the district teachers
of the year competition, all I could do is put my head down and say, “Oh my god.” But I know it was time. I’ve already retired two times. (laughter) (applause) I spent 22 years in the military. During those 22 years, I
learned about teaching. So, I served as adjunct faculty for Los Angeles community colleges and the Chicago community colleges. That was my first taste of teaching. What I noticed about them
were, as adult learners, I didn’t have to push
them to want to learn. They came in the door
with the desire to learn. Now that I’ve retired and
came on doing a second career, I’ve been teaching now for 19 years. It’s been a big challenge. I’m at an alternative program. My principal told me they’d never pick a teacher from an alternative program to be a teacher of the year. (laughter) He was my incentive. (laughter) (applause) He stands up here with me today so he can choke on that “I told you so.” (laughter) But I want to thank him
for that inspiration. And I love working with our children. Because we’re the umbrella
that’s catching those kids that fall through the crack. Those kids that already
have children of their own. Those individuals that are homeless. Those students whose parents are so strung out on drugs they don’t even come to the school when the child has a problem. I have students that are couch surfing. Kids with ankle monitors. But, if you come to my classroom, I’m gonna guarantee you succeed. I’m gonna guarantee that you
graduate from high school. If it takes everything within my power to make sure it happens. But that’s my commitment to my students. Now, I looked at the brochure that they’ve put out for everybody here today. Telling of our stories. What they didn’t tell about me was I am the head varsity men’s
basketball coach at my school. (applause) I am the only female coach in the Sacramento Athletic League. So, of course, I have to compete. I make my young men compete. We did quite well last year. I think we’re gonna win it all this year. (laughter) In addition to that, it states
that I teach US History. I do. I teach Race and Social Justice, which is an AP US History class. I helped develop that
curriculum for our district. I also teach a leadership class for girls called Student Alliance. I also helped develop that
curriculum for our district. Whenever there is something
that needs to be done, I don’t shy away. I believe in helping when
nobody else will step up. The challenge cannot be that difficult when we’re working with
God’s most precious gifts. And I am truly honored to
have had that opportunity. And still having that opportunity. Even though I qualify
for social security now. (laughter) Most of these young teachers here that I am competing against are 15 to 20 years younger than me. It doesn’t bother me at all. I continue to inspire. So, today, I brought with me
my young cousin, Britney Shine. She’s a 2015 graduate
of Berkeley University and she’s also a professional
basketball player. (applause) I’ve eased her into teaching. To education. We’re gonna get her full time eventually. And a young man that is my
brother, my nephew, my son. It’s a long story. (laughter) How he became all of that. But he is a 2019 graduate of
Humboldt State University. (applause) And I have a young lady from
one of the elementary schools who is also my great-niece. Why are you hiding your face, Avanti? (laughter) Stand up, Avanti. Look at that. (applause) That’s a straight A
student right there, too. I always tell her to read. You’ll learn a lot. With that, and I’m the last speaker today. But I have to say one more thing. Both my parents are passed. I just lost my oldest
brother three months ago. There’s things that my family
has instilled within me. And this model I want
to share with everyone. I’ve shared it with my panel. My dad told me. He says, “You don’t have to be the best. You don’t have to be number one. But, when they ask, “Will
the best please stand up?” Have the courage and
confidence in yourself that you can stand up
with the best of them.” Thank you for your time. (applause) – Gewon, I think I speak
for everyone when I say we are so glad you left
your notes on the table. (laughter) She is our last teacher speaker. Let’s hear it for all
of our teachers tonight. (applause) Just a few more things before
we give out the awards. A couple weeks ago, for the third time, I watched my favorite documentary, Won’t You Be My Neighbor? About Fred Rogers. Who’s seen it? Okay. Fred Rogers has a big place in my heart, because I’m from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Which is where he’s from. The one thing that really
hit me in that documentary, out of all the things, was they talked about the invisible gift. And that’s something that Fred Rogers always said to give to people. Think of some. For one minute, think of
someone who lifted you up, who made a difference in your life, and who made you who you are. Just silently for one minute. At some point in your day,
think about that person. And I think today. Let’s think about that one teacher who made a difference for us. So, again, congratulations
to all of our teachers. (applause) At this time, I would like to invite our board president, Bina Lefkovitz, to please come to the stage to say a few words about the Elinor Lincoln Hickey Award of Merit and then to announce our two
new teachers of the year. – This is absolutely one
of my favorite SCOE events. To be inspired by our teachers’ stories, to learn their secrets of success, and to see the students
whose lives they inspired. It is now my honor to present the Elinor Lincoln Hickey Award of Merit. It is the highest honor bestowed by the county board of education. But, before we present the award, I just want to give you a little background about Miss Hickey. The late Miss Hickey, like the teachers we are honoring today, made countless contributions to education. During her decorated career, she touched the lives
of thousands of students while teaching public
speaking, debate, journalism, radio, television, and English. Shortly before she retired 40 years ago, she was named Sacramento
City Unified School District teacher of the year. And then went on to be the chosen Sacramento County teacher of the year. Busy in retirement, Miss Hickey served on both the Sacramento City School Board and on the county board of education. Twice serving as its president. In 2005, a SCOE community
school was formally named Elinor Lincoln Hickey
Junior/Senior High School in her honor. After her death in 2008, the county board adopted
this special award in celebration of Miss
Hickey’s dedication. So, the teachers here tonight, and especially the two chosen
as county teacher of the year, please know you carry on a great legacy. We know teachers can
transform a student’s life. When you ask young people or even adults “Who had the biggest impact on your life?” They will either say their
mom or their teacher. How powerful is that? On behalf of myself and
our board of trustees, we want to express our deepest respect and appreciation for all
the teachers in this room. For the important work you do to educate and inspire our future
generation of leaders, of engaged citizens, and of our workforce. And especially for the lives you touch and change every day. Thank you for your service. And now for the awards. Is there a drumroll? (tapping table imitating drumroll) Good, I like it. Our first teacher of the year for 2020 is a special education teacher for students with mild
and moderate disabilities at Elk Grove Elementary and the Elk Grove Unified
School District, Julie Fong. (applause) Where is she? (applause) – I’m in shock. I never expected this. Thank you. I think everyone in this
room probably deserves this. This is amazing. So excited. I don’t know what to say. But I’m very glad that I
finally get a platform. My passion is literacy
and how we teach reading. And maybe now I can
spread it even further. So, thank you. – Our second teacher of the year for 2020 is an alternative education teacher at Vista Nuevo Career and
Technology High School. Gewon Richards. (applause) – Miracles do happen. (laughter) I want to thank everybody. And I want to thank my family. Even though half of them are
not able to be here today. I’m just. I always have something to say. (laughter) But I am in shock once again. I know you want to go
home, ’cause it’s late. So, good night and thank you. (applause) – Congratulations to Julie
Fong and Gewon Richards. Our friend from the Scottish
Rite had to leave early. But we had these perpetual trophies that we would like to award. Superintendent Gordon, would
you please do the honors? (applause) This has been a really exciting night. The two teachers’ applications have already been forwarded to the California Department of Education for consideration for California
teachers of the year 2020. Again, our two county teachers of the year have been invited to appear
on the Fox 40 morning news Monday at 6:45 AM. So, superintendents, better
be there to sit in for them. And now we’d like to have a special salute to all of our teachers over the year. Please enjoy the next few minutes as we show how our teachers
are making a difference in the lives of their students. (relaxing music) (applause) Again, congratulations
to all of our teachers. Watch for those photos
from tonight’s event, as well as our teacher interviews, on the SCOE website, www.scoe.net. And don’t forget. We’ve got the Kings, the River Cats, and the Sac Republic games coming up. We hope you can come out for that. Stay tuned for details. Thank you and goodnight. Thank you for celebrating
education with us. (applause) (relaxing music)

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