State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson this month selected five outstanding educators as the 2017 California Teachers of the Year.
“I am pleased to honor five dedicated and hardworking teachers who use their creativity and talents every day to make a huge difference in their classrooms,” Torlakson said. “These inspiring and innovative teachers enrich the lives of our students while helping them to succeed in 21st century careers and college. These teachers represent the best of their profession and serve as great examples.”
Among this year’s honorees is Isela Lieber, who teaches English, English as a Second Language (ESL), and ESL science to ninth and 10th graders at James Monroe High School, Los Angeles Unified School District, North Hills, Los Angeles County.
“Teaching is an act of social justice,” says Lieber. “To be a teacher is to be an agent for change. It is a dynamic profession that promotes lifelong learning, as well as ongoing challenges to analyze student data to drive our instruction and rethink our approaches to pedagogy so that all learners’ needs are met.”
Lieber has been teaching for 10 years, the last four at James Monroe High School as an English, English as a Second Language (ESL), and ESL science teacher. As an immigrant who came to the U.S. with a seventh-grade education and very little knowledge of the English language, she strongly identifies with her students, leading by example and sharing her personal story.
Lieber sponsors SUCCEED, a student club that provides information and support to first-generation high school graduates, all English learners, most economically disadvantaged, and helps them become future first-generation college students. Under her leadership, SUCCEED provides after school workshops on applying for financial aid as well as community workshops for parents on the importance and process of college.
Chris Rosas, Principal, James Monroe High School, said of Lieber, “Her example to our students is living proof of a strong commitment to student achievement. As an immigrant herself, English learner, and first-generation college student, she makes a daily commitment to serve by leading by example. She models effective teaching strategies and holds all staff and students to high standards with their classroom practices.”
Presented by California Casualty and 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.
Additional 2017 winners are:
Megan Gross, an autism spectrum disorder teacher for ninth through twelfth graders at Del Norte High School, Poway Unified School District, in San Diego. Torlakson also nominated Gross as California’s representative for the National Teacher of the Year competition. Gross will compete against other state nominees, and a 2017 National Teacher of the Year will be named in the spring.
Shaun S. Bunn, who teaches mathematics to eighth graders at Ethan A. Chase Middle School, Romoland School District, Menifee, Riverside County.
Corinne (Corrie) Traynor, a fifth-grade multi-subject teacher at Barrett Ranch Elementary School, Dry Creek Joint Elementary School District, Antelope, Placer County.
Yun (Jenny) Tzu Anderson, who teaches science, technology, engineering, and mathematics to students in kindergarten through fifth grade at Casita Center for Technology, Science, and Math, Vista Unified, Vista, San Diego County.
Torlakson, who served as Acting Governor for three days this summer, issued a “Be a Teacher” proclamation and continues to encourage people to enter the profession. “Teachers play a pivotal role in helping young people get excited about learning and achieving success, but right now California is experiencing a significant shortage,” Torlakson said.
Visit the Teach California Web site for more information.
County offices of education nominate California Teachers of the Year winners through their county-level competitions. A state selection committee reviews candidates’ applications and conducts site visits to evaluate the teachers’ rapport with students, classroom environment, presentation skills, and teaching methods.
The teachers are interviewed by the California Department of Education (CDE). The State Superintendent then selects the five awardees.
The 2017 California Teachers of the Year, finalists, and semifinalists will be honored by Torlakson at a gala to be held in Sacramento on Feb. 13.