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California Teachers of the Year Awardees Comments

California Teachers of the Year Awardees share comments and personal reflections and about the California Teachers of the Year Program.

California Teachers of the Year 2019

"I love to see the growth in students from the beginning of the year to the end—they go from shy and uncomfortable to active and enthusiastic when it comes to trying new things." "Whether it's baby goats, hatching chicks in class or even constructing a simple cutting board in woodshop, most students end up enjoying my classes and are PROUD of what they have done or got to be a part of." -- Erica Boomer, Upper Lake High School, Upper Lake Unified School District, Lake County

"My teaching philosophy has been one of continual experimentation and humility when it does not go the way you want. The discovery of what works is incredibly exiting, and quite honestly, empowering." "Teaching is hands down the hardest thing I have ever done. The problem is that actually being a teacher is so different from what people think. A good teacher can make it look easy." -- Michael Henges, Redondo Union High School, Redondo Beach Unified School District, Los Angeles County

"We can place devices in the hands of students, but without ongoing training, educators will be ill-equipped to keep up with advancements in the field."" My days often end with 24 smiles, three hugs and one joke (from Carson) as my inspired students march out the door."-- Kim Holz, Opal Robinson Elementary School, Manhattan Beach Unified School District, Los Angeles County

"Art can be scary because it is visually revealing of our technical skills and inner selves. I want students to know art is a do-over subject. It can always be covered up, cut out, painted over." "As students reflect on their past, present and future, they mold 'Identity Sculpture' (plaster arm casts) that they deocrate with symbols illustrating their accomplishments and dreams." -- Angel Mejico, El Cerrito Middle School, Corona-Norco Unified School District, Riverside County

"My classroom is not contained by its four walls, and our community of learners is not confined to the students in the class. Guest speakers and out-in-the-world projects enliven curriculum and give students a wider perspective." "I strive to be a status quo disruptor and an agent for social justice, while engaging in a rigorous, standards-based English curriculum." -- Rosie Reid, National Teacher of the Year Candidate, Northgate High School, Mount Diable Unified School District, Contra Costa County

California Teachers of the Year 2018

"I am proud of how many of my former students have chosen to become teachers themselves, some of them at San Diego High right alongside me." -- Jaime Yumiko Brown, San Diego High School of International Studies, San Diego Unified School District, San Diego County

"I respect my students as individuals. I accept them where they are in life and we grow together. I continue to learn from them as much as they learn from me." -- Kirsten Farrell, Venice High School, Los Angeles Unified School District, Los Angeles County

"Moments of discovery can be life-changing for the students, and being part of that energy, that passion, that curiosity led me into teaching and has kept me here nearly 20 years." -- Greg Gardiner, Edison High School, Huntington Beach Union High School District, Orange County

"Each year 100 Regiment students and parents manage the 50 mile SAG stop for the 100 mile Tour de Palm Springs charity ride. They spend the day unloading supplies, preparing food, administering first aid, patching tires, and performing pieces like 'Theme from Rocky' or 'Uptown Funk'." -- Brian McDaniel, National Teacher of the Year Candidate, Painted Hills Middle School, Palm Springs Unified School District, Riverside County

"My students were inspired to give back to the community after receiving Chromebooks through a local grant, so we organized a fundraiser for the local animal shelter, created flyers on our new Chromebooks and raised over $300 from collecting cans and bottles." -- Erin Oxhorn-Gilpin, Northlake Hills Elementary School, Castiac Union School District, Los Angeles County

California Teachers of the Year 2017

"Oh, Mr. Bunn, can you call my other teacher so we can stay for another five minutes to figure this problem out? We almost got it. Please?" -- Shawn Bunn, Ethan A. Chase Middle School, Romoland School District, Riverside County

"Opportunities in schools should be equitable no matter where on lives or what the median income of the community is. The hope is that every single student will have opportunities to discover their strengths and explore their passions." -- Jenny Chien, Casita Center for Technology, Science and Math, Vista Unified School District, San Diego County

"Our home base in Room P-111 provides security and comfort when needed, but also the confidence for each of our Del Norte Nighthawks to soar with the rest of the flock." -- Megan Gross, National Teacher of the Year Candidate, Del Norte High School, Poway Unified School District, San Diego County

"Yes, teaching is hard work, but just as a lawyer has to defend his client, and a doctor has to save his patient, we teachers have the amazing task of teaching while guiding, cultivating and inspiring our children." -- Isela Lieber, James Monroe High School, Los Angeles Unified School District, Los Angeles County

"I have mentored student teachers, new teachers, veteran teachers, and even administrators. My message has always been that it is not about us, it is about the kids in our classroom." -- Corrie Traynor, Barrett Ranch Elementary School, Dry Creek Joint Elementary Unified School District, Placer County

California Teachers of the Year 2016

"One thing i say to my musicians is, 'I don't care what kind of musician you are in 20 years. I car about what kind of person you are.' For now, music is simply the vehicle that can provide the values of: discipline, hard work, empathy, respect." -- Mitch Bahr, Foothill High School, Shasta Union High School District, Shasta County

"Be Awesome Today! is a sign that hangs over my desk. It ensures that today is the day that something new will be learned, a song will be sung, a laugh will be shared, a friend will be made, and a moment may occur that will be remembered long after this day has passed." -- Michelle Cherland, Carrillo Ranch Elementary School, Desert Sands Unified School District, Riverside County

"My best 12 minutes of the day occur each morning at 9:18 a.m. when my high schoolers take their broadcast live to a large audience. I stand back, stay out of their way, and watch 34 students work as a team." -- Doug Green, Valley Middle School, Carlsbad High School, Carlsbad Unified School District, San Diego County

"I am an educator that not only teaches for employment, but also for empowerment. I challenge my students to take risks as we share a classroom in which issues of race, class, sexual orientation, religion, gender, and political beliefs intersect and are thoroughly examined." -- Daniel Jocz, National Teacher of the Year Candidate, Downtown Magnets High School, Los Angeles Unified School District, Los Angeles County

"We need to accelerate academic growth by encouraging the use of higher-order thinking skills in all students to prepare them to be innovative 21st century learners who work collaboratively to analyze situations and solve problems creatively." -- Ann Park, Greenleaf TK-I School, Oakland Unified School District, Alameda County

California Teachers of the Year 2015

Students are eager to get started every day. As one student exclaimed, "We're going to rock it today, aren't we, Mrs. Laughlin?' Her response? "Show off!" -- Amy Laughlin, Hansen School, Savanna School District, Orange County

"When a person comes into my classroom, he may see what some have deemed chaos. I believe this chaos is learning at its best. I am not the holder of all knowledge. I am a facilitator of learning for the 21st Century student." -- Maggie Mabery, National Teacher of the Year Candidate, Manhattan Beach Middle School, Manhattan beach Unified School District, Los Angeles County

"Go ahead. Dare. Dare to be different. Dare to be the first one. Dare to sound smart, to get caught doing something kind, to be respectful to adults, to help someone in need, to stand up to a bully." -- Lovelyn Marquesz-Prueher, Dodson Middle School, Los Angeles Unified School District, Los Angeles County

"Teaching is not a career for the timid. The mental exhaustion involved is difficult to even quantify. In terms of personal accomplishment and contributions to society, again for me, nothing compares to a careen in teaching." -- Christopher O'Connor, St. Helena High School, St. Helena Unified School District, Napa County

"I am passionate about educating the whole child to ensure each child develops a positive attitude about education, and ability to direct their own learning, and an understanding of the skills and information needed to learn." -- Erin Rosselli, Panorama Elementary School, Orange Unified School District, Orange County

California Teachers of the Year 2014

"Failure is not an option, as many of our student are on life support academically." "My venture into teaching has been the most rewarding aspect of my life. I am a constant cheerleader of teaching. I'll bend anyone's ear as to why one should pursue this career." -- Angelo "Ang" Bracco, Solano Middle School, Vallejo City Unified School District, Solano County

"Our students understand that to make choir work, we all must give 100 percent. This is a team sport at its best. If anyone holds back, the choir suffers. When one succeeds, we all succeed." "Think back on your education and remember what teacher inspired you, made you want to learn, excited you about their subject, and taught you about life. My message to the teacher of America . . . be that teacher every day." -- Michael Hayden, Mira Costa High School, Manhattan Beach Unified School District, Los Angeles County

"Achieving the goal we set at his teacher-student conference, one young reader earned a ticket to my wildly popular year-end Reading Counts party. He smiled and said, 'My reading is on fire now, huh, Mrs. Horist?' My heart swelled with pride over his incredible progress." -- Linda Horist, Nohl Canyon Elementary School, Orange Unified School District, Orange County

"Students in my classroom are reading detectives, investigative reporters, budding historians, and movie producers. They are innovators who seek creative solutions, debaters who support their thinking with evidence, and authors of original content with the work via my professional blog, a classroom Vimeo channel, and our class Web site." "Enthusiasm is contagious; I've got boatloads, and so do my students. Learning, laughing, creating, and transforming together make it all worthwhile." -- Jessica Pack, James Workman Middle School, Palm Spring Unified School District, Riverside County

"I believe in the power of classroom observations by other teacher and by parents. I have observed very few classrooms in which I did not come away with a new idea for my own teaching. Also, parents often gain a profound appreciation for the teacher by observing them teach." "On a very personal level, the greatest accomplishments are hearing from students that because I cared enough about them, they wanted to succeed. Giving young people a chance to realize their dreams and live a full life will always be the force that drive me to teach." -- Timothy Smith, National Teacher of the Year Candidate, Florin High School, Elk Grove Unified School District, Sacramento County

California Teachers of the Year 2013

"What rewards do I get from teaching? That's easy: I laugh a lot. I learn each day. Each year, each term, each day, each class is new. Being a teacher does not make life easy, but it makes it worth living. I love it." -- Sebastein De Clerck, Ventura High School, Ventura Unified School District, Ventura County

"I do not see students as they are today, but as the person that they can become—I want my students to see possibilities, to overcome adversity and to become the best versions of themselves." -- David Goldenberg, Arnold O. Beckman High School, Tustin Unified School District, Orange County

"My parents' passion and dedication towards education sparked a fire inside me. I thought if education could do so much, maybe I should become a teacher." -- Veronica Marquez, Harmony Elementary School, Los Angeles Unified School District, Los Angeles County

"Teaching from the heart, leading by example, and being open about my own shortcomings have been the most effective methods for me to help students choose a path of success." -- Martin Reisert, Oak Valley Middle School, Poway Unified School District, San Diego County

"A great wave of pride fills me when I tell people that I am a teacher. Teaching fuels me and gives my life purpose. Teaching is the manifestation of that 'something' I vowed to do on April 29, 1992." -- I'Asha Warfield, National Teacher of the Year Candidate, Frick Middle School, Oakland Unified School District, Alameda County

Questions: Awards Team | awards@cde.ca.gov | 916-319-0842 
Last Reviewed: Thursday, August 1, 2019