Skip to main content
California Department of Education Logo

Honorees 2011

California Teachers of the Year Program award winners for 2011.

Shannan Brown

Grade Five
Edison Elementary School
San Juan Unified School District

I see it as my job to find ways to not only tap into students’ potential, but to guide
in seeing it in themselves. – Shannan Brown

Ms. Brown has taught for 11 years, mostly in grade five at Edison Elementary. She has also taught English Language Development and has worked at a Group Home for Boys.

“My students walk in on the first day, coming from different cultures, countries and family make-ups. Many have come to believe that they are not smart and there is no need to try. Knowing this, I tell them, ‘I don’t care who you were last year. You can be whomever you want this year.’ I have them write down who they want to be in school, with friends, at home. As they finish I say, ‘This is the first day of the new you, welcome to 5th grade.’”

With a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of California Davis, earned in 1996, Ms. Brown received her teaching credential from Sacramento State University in 1999. She also holds Crosscultural, Language, and Academic Development Certification, earned in 2001.

Darin Curtis

Grade Eight
Tierra del Sol Middle School
Lakeside Union School District

I have my Master's degree in Administration, but to make a difference in the lives of students,
I realized I have to be in the classroom with the kids, just as I had those
teachers in the classroom for me. – Darin Curtis

Mr. Curtis has taught for 18 years. In addition to Physical Education, he has taught American History, Social Studies, English, and Reading.

“What motivates me is the challenge of identifying the students who need inspiration the most. Turning student interests into inspiration is what great teachers do; I strive to be like my father and the other teachers and coaches who took the time to inspire me. Even when an educator’s day may have come and gone, there is never an end to the good that a teacher has done.”

In addition to a Master’s degree earned in 1995, Curtis earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from San Diego State University in 1991. His Crosscultural, Language, and Academic Development and California Teacher of English Learners certifications were earned in 2008.

Beverly Gonzalez

Grade Four
Santa Fe School
Baldwin Park Unified School District

It is a privilege to be a teacher. There is nothing else in
the world I would rather do. – Beverly Gonzalez

Ms. Gonzalez has been teaching for 15 years in numerous elementary schools. She has taught grades two through six. She has also been a principal and a school-to-career coordinator. After two years as an administrator, she returned to her great joy, the classroom.

“I am a gardener. Each year, I am entrusted with a variety of seeds, and my job is to cause each one to grow into a beautiful plant. The soil I prepare is filled with systems, classroom environment, and motivational strategies that anchor my students and cause them to grow their roots deeply, stretching out as they grab onto the essentials of learning.”

Ms. Gonzalez earned a Master’s degree from Azusa Pacific University in 1999, and a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of La Verne in 1992.


Jennifer Kelly

Grade Eight
Middletown Middle School
Middletown Unified School District

As the world around us becomes more complex, the value of teaching
grows even
more in importance. – Jennifer Kelly

Ms. Kelly has taught for 20 years in her current rural district as well as in more urban settings in San Mateo and Sonoma counties.

“In spite of economic hardships, we live in a very exciting era in education. With the realization before us of the crucial nature of closing the achievement gap, for the wellbeing of not only our conscious but for our state’s and nation’s future, we are at a time that a teacher can make a real difference. Are you ready to play a significant role in equal education for all? As a teacher, the students will inspire you to inspire them!”

Ms. Kelly earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Zoology from the University of California Davis in 1986, and has also studied at San Francisco State University.


Kadhir Rajagopal

Grades NineEleven
Grant Union High School
Twin Rivers Unified School District

My ultimate goal everyday is to get students to master the objective I have
taught during class before they leave my room. – Kadhir Rajagopal

Mr. Rajagopal has taught for seven years. He has taught Algebra I and Special Day Class in mathematics and English-language Arts. He has also taught and tutored at Berkeley Alternative High School and two Oakland secondary schools.

“I put more emphasis on students’ mastery of key concepts than simply racing through concepts. I teach with the belief that my students’ lives depend on their success in my class. If my students fail, I would feel like I am a doctor who has failed his patients. If they fail, I fail. This belief is at the heart of my teaching.”

With a Doctorate in Education from Sacramento State University Sacramento earned in 2010, Mr. Rajagopal also holds an Administrative and Special Education credentials. His Master’s degree in Education is from the University of San Francisco from 2005 and his Bachelor of Arts degree from University of California Berkeley, was earned in 2003.

Questions:   Awards Team | | 916-319-0842
Last Reviewed: Wednesday, June 14, 2017