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California Department of Education
News Release
California Department of Education
News Release
Release: #19-67
October 4, 2019
Contact: Jonathan Mendick
Phone: 916-319-0818

State Superintendent Tony Thurmond Announces 2020 California Teachers of the Year

SACRAMENTO—State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond today named five extraordinary educators as the 2020 California Teachers of the Year. Thurmond, who began his career as a social services worker, said he is pleased to honor five outstanding and talented teachers who have made a great impact in their schools and communities.

“These five incredible teachers receive this prestigious honor for their focus, drive, and determination to teach young people in California,” he said. “They are not only wonderful representatives for our state, but they also make profound differences in the lives of their students and their communities by employing innovative strategies to increase academic success and narrow the achievement gap among a broad range of students.”

Presented by California Casualty and supported by 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 2020 California Teachers of the Year are:

Sean Bui, who is a ninth through twelfth grade English language development and business law teacher at Cupertino High School in Cupertino, Fremont Union High School District, Santa Clara County. Thurmond also nominated Bui as California’s representative for the National Teacher of the Year competition. Bui will compete against other state nominees, and the 2020 National Teacher of the Year will be announced in the spring.

Brenda Barreras, who is a kindergarten teacher at Good Hope Elementary School in Perris, Perris Elementary School District, Riverside County.

Mandy Kelly, who is a sixth grade multiple-subject teacher at Trabuco Mesa Elementary School in Rancho Santa Margarita, Saddleback Valley Unified School District, Orange County.

Guy Myers, who is a ninth through twelfth grade drama and musical theatre teacher at John Burroughs High School in Burbank, Burbank Unified School District, Los Angeles County.

Katya Robinson, who is a kindergarten through third grade special education teacher at West Sonoma County Consortium School in Sebastopol, West Sonoma County High School District, Sonoma County.

Thurmond said these teachers will be great ambassadors for the profession. Thurmond recently launched a Teacher Shortage workgroup at the California Department of Education (CDE) and said, “It is important to motivate and inspire other educators, champion the positive contributions of the teaching profession, and highlight the rewards of being a teacher.”

“Great teachers are the core of a great educational system. Yes, teaching changes lives of individual students, but beyond that, teachers show us all that all children can achieve, no matter who they are,” he said.

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

2020 California Teachers of the Year Finalists
County Name Subject Grade(s) School District


Gavin Ehlers

Advanced Placement Biology and Accelerated Biology


Marina High School

Huntington Beach Union High School District

Los Angeles

Nikysha Gilliam

English and US History


Susan Miller Dorsey High School

Los Angeles Unified School District


Erika Meeker

Instrumental, Choral and General Music


Ross School

Ross School District


De’Anna Moore

General Education


Crescent Elementary School

Orange Unified School District

County offices of education nominate California Teachers of the Year applicants through their county-level competitions. CDE selection committees review applications; conduct site visits to evaluate teachers' rapport with students, classroom environments, presentation skills, and teaching techniques; and interview the teachers. The State Superintendent then selects the five California Teachers of the Year and the National Teacher of the Year nominee.

The 2020 California Teachers of the Year and finalists will be honored by the CDE at a gala to be announced at a later date.

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

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

Last Reviewed: Tuesday, November 08, 2022
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