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California Department of Education
News Release
California Department of Education
News Release
Release: #20-86
October 28, 2020
Contact: Jonathan Mendick
E-mail: communications@cde.ca.gov
Phone: 916-319-0818

State Superintendent Tony Thurmond Announces 2021 California Teachers of the Year

SACRAMENTO—State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond today named five exceptional educators as the 2021 California Teachers of the Year. These educators are ambassadors for the profession and serve as representatives of the state for the calendar year. Thurmond, who began his career as a social worker, said he is thrilled to honor five outstanding and talented teachers who go above and beyond to educate, inspire, and empower students, families, and communities.

“In a year that might be the most challenging in all of our lives, these five inspiring teachers have made profound differences in the lives of their students and communities,” he said. “I’m proud that these educators are receiving this prestigious honor for their continued effort to rise above the challenges and connect with students even during unimaginable circumstances.”

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 and inspire new teachers to enter the profession.

The 2021 California Teachers of the Year are:

Jim Klipfel, who is a ninth- through twelfth-grade Social Studies and Athletics teacher at Saugus High School in the William S. Hart High Union School District, Los Angeles County. Thurmond also nominated Klipfel as California’s representative for the National Teacher of the Year competition. Klipfel will compete against other state nominees, and the 2021 National Teacher of the Year will be announced in the spring.

Allison Cyr, who is a third-grade, multiple-subject teacher at Lyndon B. Johnson Elementary School in the Desert Sands Unified School District, Riverside County.

Keisa Brown, who is a seventh- and eighth-grade Introduction to Spanish and AVID 8 teacher at University Heights Middle School in the Riverside Unified School District, Riverside County.

Laura E. Gómez Contreras, who is a third-grade multiple-subject teacher at Martin Elementary School in the Santa Ana Unified School District, Orange County.

Nora Wynne, who is a sixth- through eighth-grade Spanish teacher at McKinleyville Middle School in the McKinleyville Union School District, Humboldt County.

The 2021 California Teachers of the Year Finalists are:

Cindy Evans, who is a sixth- through eighth-grade middle school Special Education teacher at the San Jose Intermediate Campus in the Marin County Office of Education, Marin County.

Ericca Dent, who is a second-grade multiple-subject teacher at Joaquin Miller Elementary School in the Burbank Unified School District, Los Angeles County.

Frank Koroshec III, who is an eleventh- and twelfth-grade English teacher at San Marcos Senior High School in the Santa Barbara Unified School District, Santa Barbara County.

Hazel Kight Witham, who is a tenth- and twelfth-grade English teacher at Venice Senior High School in the Los Angeles Unified School District, Los Angeles County.

Jay Tweet, who is a twelfth-grade AP Macroeconomics and Honors Government teacher at El Capitan High School in the Grossmont Union High School District, San Diego County.

Ross Hause, who is a fifth- and sixth-grade multiple-subject teacher at Luther Burbank Elementary School in the Santa Rosa Elementary School District, Sonoma County.

Shelley Andros, who is a sixth- through eighth-grade Coding, Femineers, Horticulture, and Robotics teacher at Buena Park Middle School in the Buena Park Elementary School District, Orange County.

County offices of education nominate California Teachers of the Year applicants through their county-level competitions. CDE selection committees review applications; 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.

For more information on the award program, please visit the CDE's California Teachers of the Year web page. Visit the Teach California website External link opens in new window or tab. for more information on becoming a teacher.

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

Last Reviewed: Wednesday, October 28, 2020
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