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California Department of Education
News Release
Release: #16-73
October 12, 2016
Contact: Peter Tira
E-mail: communications@cde.ca.gov
Phone: 916-319-0818

State Schools Chief Tom Torlakson Announces California Teachers of the Year

SACRAMENTO—State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson today selected five outstanding educators as the 2017 California Teachers of the Year.

“I am pleased to honor five dedicated and hardworking teachers who use their creativity and talents every day to make a huge difference in their classrooms,” Torlakson said. “These inspiring and innovative teachers enrich the lives of our students while helping them to succeed in 21st century careers and college. These teachers represent the best of their profession and serve as great examples.”

Presented by California Casualty and the California Teachers of the Year Foundation, the California Teachers of the Year Program began in 1972 to honor outstanding teachers and encourage new teachers to enter the profession.

The 2017 winners are:

Megan Gross is is a teacher of ninth through twelfth grade students with autism spectrum disorder at Del Norte High School, Poway Unified School District, in San Diego. Torlakson also nominated Gross as California’s representative for the National Teacher of the Year competition. Gross will compete against other state nominees, and a 2017 National Teacher of the Year will be named in the spring.

Shaun S. Bunn teaches mathematics to eighth graders at Ethan A. Chase Middle School, Romoland School District, Menifee, Riverside County.

Corinne (Corrie) Traynor is a fifth grade multi-subject teacher at Barrett Ranch Elementary School, Dry Creek Joint Elementary School District, Antelope, Placer County.

Yun (Jenny) Tzu Anderson teaches science, technology, engineering, and mathematics to students in kindergarten through fifth grade at Casita Center for Technology, Science, and Math, Vista Unified, Vista, San Diego County.

Isela Lieber teaches English, English as a Second Language (ESL), and ESL science to ninth and tenth graders at James Monroe High School, Los Angeles Unified School District, North Hills, Los Angeles County.

Torlakson, who served as Acting Governor for three days this summer, issued a “Be a Teacher” proclamation and continues to encourage people to enter the profession.

“Teachers play a pivotal role in helping young people get excited about learning and achieving success, but right now California is experiencing a significant shortage,” Torlakson said.

Visit the Teach California Web site External link opens in new window or tab. for more information.

County offices of education nominate California Teachers of the Year winners through their county-level competitions. A state selection committee reviews candidates' applications and conducts site visits to evaluate the teachers' rapport with students, classroom environment, presentation skills, and teaching methods.

The teachers are interviewed by the California Department of Education (CDE). The State Superintendent then selects the five awardees.

The 2017 California Teachers of the Year, finalists, and semifinalists will be honored by Torlakson at a gala to be held in Sacramento on February 13, 2017.

For more information on the award program, please visit the CDE's California Teachers of the Year Web page.

 

THE 2017 CALIFORNIA TEACHERS OF THE YEAR

Megan Gross

National Teacher of the Year Candidate

Ninth through Twelfth Grade Special Education Teacher

Del Norte High School, San Diego

Poway Unified School District

San Diego County

“Teaching is life-fulfilling work. I love the challenge of identifying the best instructional and support strategies for my new students each fall and delight in the rewards of each student’s “a-ha” moment that ultimately leads to growth and continued success.”

—Megan Gross

Gross has been a special education teacher for nine years, the last three teaching an autism spectrum disorder special day class at Del Norte High School, where she leads a team of instructional assistants who collaborate to design and support unique learning opportunities and experiences for their students.

Her classroom is a place where students feel welcome and can access the resources needed to thrive academically and socially in general education settings. It serves as a home base for her students, providing security and comfort when needed, but also confidence for each student to grow with the rest of their classmates and participate in schoolwide activities.

Under her leadership, her students launched a school-wide campaign, “Socktober,” to collect socks and blankets to benefit homeless families in their school district as well as created Valentines for senior citizens who lived in a nearby assisted-living facility.

Greg Mizel, Principal, Del Norte High School, said, “Mrs. Gross has worked diligently to create a positive, inclusive, and productive learning environment for her students. Relational, reflective, humorous, generous with her time, and committed to helping each and every one of her students thrive and succeed, we feel blessed to have her on staff.”

Gross may be reached through Del Norte High School at 858-487-0877 or mgross@powayusd.com.

 

Shaun S. Bunn

Seventh and Eighth Grade Mathematics Teacher

Ethan A. Chase Middle School, Menifee

Romoland School District

Riverside County

“Sometimes, the best lesson that kids learn from us is not subject matter, but something much deeper, more profound—kindness and caring. These life lessons can only be genuinely taught from unpredictable moments. Unpredictable moments can also turn challenges into teachable opportunities.”

—Shaun Bunn

Bunn has been teaching for 11 years, ten in his current position at Ethan A. Chase Middle School. Described by a colleague as the “Jaime Escalante” of Chase Middle School, he makes personal connections with his students and is caring, inspirational, and willing to go above and beyond. He shares about his personal struggles to be successful and how perseverance diminished those struggles, saying he wants his students to see him as human.

Originally from Cambodia, he lived in poverty and saw his parents make huge sacrifices for the family. As an English learner, Bunn has firsthand knowledge of the challenges his students face and tries to help them overcome these issues. Every year, he visits Cambodia and takes kids off the street to feed them.

Julie A. Vitale, Superintendent of Romoland School District, said of Bunn, “He is the type of person that gives tirelessly and never expects anything in return. He is honest, kind, easy to work with, and friendly. He has the desire to have a meaningful impact in the lives of students.”

Bunn may be reached at Ethan A. Chase Middle School at 951-566-4400 or sbunn@romoland.net.

 

Corinne (Corrie) Traynor

Fifth Grade Multi-Subject Teacher

Barrett Ranch Elementary School, Antelope

Dry Creek Joint Elementary Unified School District

Placer County

"So why did I become a teacher? It is simple: I never want one of my students to feel that they cannot be whatever they want to be. I have dedicated my life to children of poor circumstance where I can guide them to a full understanding that we all can be successful in life with handiwork, determination, and perseverance.”

—Corinne (Corrie) Traynor

Traynor has been teaching for 22 years, 15 in her current position at Barrett Ranch Elementary School. She has used her struggles with dyslexia and a severe reading disability as a child to drive her to become the best teacher she could be.

As an advocate for children, she teaches other educators not to lower their expectations for at-risk students. “My message has always been that it is not about us, it is about the kids in our classroom seats,” she said.

Dry Creek Joint Elementary School District Assistant Superintendent Jim Ferguson said of Traynor: “She excels beyond imagination in the classroom and is a key contributor to her site and district. She is a prime example of how a teacher leader can have a profound effect on an entire organization. If I were to go back to a principalship and have to start building a staff, the first teacher I would want on my staff would be Corrie Traynor.”

Traynor may be reached at Barrett Ranch Elementary at 916-770-8839 or ctraynor@dcjesd.us.

 

Yun (Jenny) Tzu Anderson

Kindergarten through Fifth Grade Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics Teacher

Casita Center for Technology, Science, and Math, Vista

Vista Unified School District

San Diego County

“The value of education rests on how educators shape the young minds of tomorrow. By focusing on their strengths, interests, and values through a personalized approach, students feel empowered to take action to make an impact in the world.”

—Yun (Jenny) Tzu Anderson

Anderson has been teaching for nine years, the last two as a science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) teacher at Casita Center for Technology, Science, and Math. A self-described learning experience designer, Anderson pulls resources from various avenues to remix and refine lessons to create personalized and relevant experiences that focus on each student’s interests.

She teaches a fourth grade journalism class, where students produce a morning newscast and also runs a flexible learning space entitled the Design, Research, Engineering, Arts, Mathematics, and Science (DREAMS) lab where students learn the language of coding and engage in design challenges aligned to the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) and Common Core State Standards (CCSS) in English Language Arts (ELA) and math. The DREAMS lab allows students the opportunity to explore how things work from trial and error.

Laura Smith, Principal of Casita Center for Technology, Science, and Math, said, “Jenny Anderson is a lead learner. Observing her deliver professional development on Next Generation Science Standards to teachers is magical. Educators from all over San Diego County are modeling their STEM labs after the DREAMS lab. Jenny is inspired by the future and what could be.”

Anderson may be reached through Casita Center for Technology, Science, and Math at 760-724-9442 or yunanderson@vistausd.org.

 

Isela Lieber

Ninth and Tenth Grade English, ESL, ESL Science Teacher

James Monroe High School, North Hills

Los Angeles Unified School District

Los Angeles County

“Teaching is an act of social justice. To be a teacher is to be an agent for change. It is a dynamic profession that promotes lifelong learning, as well as ongoing challenges to analyze student data to drive our instruction and rethink our approaches to pedagogy so that all learners’ needs are met.”

—Isela Lieber

Lieber has been teaching for ten years, the last four at James Monroe High School as an English, English as a Second Language (ESL), and ESL science teacher. As an immigrant who came to the U.S. with a seventh grade education and very little knowledge of the English language, she strongly identifies with her students, leading by example and sharing her personal story.

Lieber sponsors SUCCEED, a student club that provides information and support to first-generation high school graduates, all English learners, most economically disadvantaged, and helps them become future first-generation college students. Under her leadership, SUCCEED provides after school workshops on applying for financial aid as well as community workshops for parents on the importance and process of college.

Chris Rosas, Principal, James Monroe High School, said of Lieber, “Her example to our students is living proof of a strong commitment to student achievement. As an immigrant herself, English learner, and first-generation college student, she makes a daily commitment to serve by leading by example. She models effective teaching strategies and holds all staff and students to high standards with their classroom practices.”

Lieber may be reached through James Monroe High School at 818-830-4200 or isela.jacome@lausd.net.

 

2017 California Teachers of the Year Finalists

County

Name

Subject

Grade

School

District

Contra Costa

Shauna Hawes

Computer Applications,Technology

Sixth through Eighth

Valley View Middle School

Mt. Diablo USD

Los Angeles

Sheila Edwards

American History and Pre AP American History

Eighth

Sierra Vista Middle School

Covina-Valley USD

Los Angeles

Dominique Evans-Bye

Biology and Geospatial Technologies

Tenth through Twelfth

Clark Magnet High School

Glendale USD

Los Angeles

Marcella Marie DeBoer

English, English Literature, English Language Development

Ninth, Eleventh, and Twelfth

Cesar Chavez Learning Academies (CCLA)-Social Justice Humanitas Academy

Los Angeles USD

Los Angeles

Matthew Waynee

Cinematic Arts, AP Studio Art, Photography

Ninth through Twelfth

USC Cinematic Arts & Engineering Magnet

Los Angeles USD

Monterey

John Miller

History-Social Science

Seventh

Chalone Peaks Middle School

King City Union SD

San Diego

L. Brooke Crocker

AP U.S. History, U.S. History, Honors Geography

Ninth and Eleventh

Santana High School

Grossmont Union High SD

San Luis Obispo

William Walters

Special Education

Pre-Kindergarten through Transition

San Luis Obispo High School

San Luis Coastal USD

 

 

2017 California Teachers of the Year Semifinalists

County

Name

Subject

Grade

School

District

Humboldt

August Deshais

Multiple Subjects

Kindergarten

Ridgewood School

Cutten Elementary SD

Los Angeles

Shannon Garrison

All Subjects

Fourth and Fifth Grade Combination

Solano Avenue Elementary School

Los Angeles USD

Riverside

Amanda Sandoval

College Prep U.S. History and Sheltered U.S. History

Eleventh

Eleanor Roosevelt High School

Corona-Norco USD

Sonoma

Georgia (Tammy) Leyden

Elementary Multiple Subjects

First and Second

Guerneville Elementary School

Guerneville Elementary SD

 

 

# # # #

Tom Torlakson — State Superintendent of Public Instruction
Communications Division, Room 5206, 916-319-0818, Fax 916-319-0100

Last Reviewed: Thursday, October 13, 2016
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