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California Department of Education
News Release
California Department of Education
News Release
Release: #19-37
May 14, 2019
Contact: Communications
Phone: 916-319-0818

State Superintendent Tony Thurmond Congratulates Juvenile Court, Community, and Alternative Schools Administrators of California Teacher of the Year

SACRAMENTO—State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond today congratulated Greg Barragan of the Fresno County Superintendent of Schools for being named the 2019 Juvenile Court, Community, and Alternative Schools Administrators of California (JCCASAC) Teacher of the Year.

Barragan or Mr. B as his students call him, started as a Career Technical Instructor at the Fresno County Court School in 2015 and launched the school’s welding program. His instruction and expertise has enabled countless students to earn welding certifications and embark on the pathway to solid careers.

“Greg’s dedication, impact, and success as a teacher is an example of what happens when a student who may have personal obstacles to overcome, is shown that someone cares and supports them.” said Thurmond. “Connecting with students who are incarcerated, suspended, or in an alternative school setting can be challenging, but believing in their abilities can help them start believing in themselves. Greg is very deserving of this honor and I applaud him and all of the Teacher of the Year nominees for their work to improve the lives of the students they serve.”

Barragan’s commitment to his students doesn’t only exist in the classroom. He has utilized his industry contacts and community relationships as a local business owner to provide mentoring opportunities for his students such as interview techniques, resume writing, and real-world industry exposure.

To select the Teacher of The Year for JCCASAC, each county office of education nominates one court, community, or alternative education school teacher. All nominees must meet certain criteria including having at least five years of teaching experience, two of which must be in county office alternative education programs. The JCCASAC board reviews applicants and selects the winner.

Barragan recently received his award at a special Teacher of the Year luncheon ceremony held during the JCCASAC 50th anniversary state conference. Seven Teacher of the Year nominees were also recognized. For information about JCCASAC, visit the California County Superintendents Educational Services Association website External link opens in new window or tab..

Greg Barragan, Fresno County Superintendent of Schools

Mr. Greg Barragan teaches welding to the students who need it most. To date, Greg has been able to guide 51 of his students to gainful employment in the welding industry. When asked what is most enjoyable about his job, he has simply said, “Changing lives.” Additionally, Greg puts in a lot of extra effort canvassing the community to garner commitments of support for his program, so he will be able to continue his passion.

Ellen De La Cruz, San Diego County Office of Education

Ms. Ellen De La Cruz has been a Juvenile Court & Community School teacher for more than 21 years in a variety of settings. She helped start the Trauma Response Unit (TRU) in 2016 at SOAR Academy Kearny Mesa. The TRU Unit is a collaboration between educators, counselors, and probation staff working in an effort to support youth that are experiencing high levels of stress due to trauma; many of the youth are both delinquency and dependency youth. TRU provides engaging, culturally responsive, and therapeutic learning experiences. Ellen believes that kids in the TRU unit can work their way out of the Juvenile Justice System.

Kathleen Dennis, San Joaquin County Office of Education

Ms. Kathleen Dennis is from the San Joaquin County Office of Education, and is an exemplary teacher who is dedicated to the growth and development of her students. She currently teaches garden biology, integrated science, and college and career readiness at San Joaquin Building Futures Academy as well as a Project Based Learning course for intern teachers at Teachers College of San Joaquin. Ms. Kat is both loved and respected by both her students and her colleagues, serving not only as an inspiring teacher but also as a teammate, collaborator, and leader.

Gail Hume-Nivette, Orange County Department of Education

Ms. Gail Hume-Nivette began her career 21 years ago working with adjudicated youth. She has taught contract learning in the community with students who were truant, expelled, on probation, or teen parents. Now she works with young adults who dropped out of school and have returned to get their diploma. Gail really enjoys the one-to-one alternative setting where she can focus on each student’s individual needs more effectively.

Barbara Kennison, Los Angeles County Office of Education

Ms. Barbara Kennison is a teacher at Central Juvenile Hall, where she teachers special education students in a special day classroom setting. Respected and loved by both her students and colleagues, Ms. Kennison displays knowledge, tenacity, resilience, motivation, persistence, and a strong work ethic daily. She is always willing to go above and beyond taking ownership and advocating for her students, while maintaining a positive attitude that is a much needed asset to the school’s climate and culture.

Brent Rodriguez, Stanislaus County Office of Education

Mr. Brent Rodriguez is from the Stanislaus County Office of Education, where he brings energy, consistency, and an unfailing determination to succeed in his culinary arts classes. Upon entering Brent’s classroom, visitors are struck by the level of teamwork and creative energy demonstrated by his students. Brent is a professional of the highest caliber, and he has a genuine understanding and sensitivity to his students and their needs.

Adam Sanchez, Kern County Superintendent of Schools

Mr. Adam Sanchez is from Kern County Superintendent of Schools, where he is considered a valuable member of the community schools staff. His work ethic and his ability to connect with students and staff has helped him to become an emergent leader that others look to for support. His passion in working with students is evident through the effort and time he spends in developing high quality and meaningful lessons. Additionally, Adam goes above and beyond during the holidays, spending extra time teaching students Christmas carols and engaging in community events with parents.

Meredith Tanaka, Placer County Office of Education

Ms. Meredith Tanaka is from the Placer County Office of Education, and she teaches middle and high school students at the Pathways Charter School iCare (Intensive Community Action for Responsive Education) Program. There she has been an integral part of the team. Each day she incorporates opportunities for discussion not only about the curriculum, but topics of high interest to the students. Meredith is well-respected and is an excellent role model for staff and students. She also models a kind, caring classroom with high expectations.

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Tony Thurmond — State Superintendent of Public Instruction
Communications Division, Room 5602, 916-319-0818, Fax 916-319-0100

Last Reviewed: Friday, September 9, 2022
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