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 Kovacic, Tolan Named 2010 California Teachers of the Year

​Two San Diego County Teachers of the Year have been named California Teachers of the Year, and one of them will represent California in the national Teacher of the Year program.

Kelly Kovacic of The Preuss School, and Melanie Tolan of Sarah Anthony School at Juvenile Hall, were announced as two of the five 2010 California Teachers of the Year by State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O’Connell, in a news conference in Kovacic’s classroom. As state Teachers of the Year, Kovacic and Tolan represent more than 300,000 public school teachers in California.

In addition to that announcement, O’Connell told reporters and educators gathered at Preuss that Kovacic will represent California in the prestigious National Teacher of the Year program.

“Our five California Teachers of the Year are outstanding educators and amazing instructional leaders,” O’Connell said. “Each Teacher of the Year has many stories to tell about overcoming obstacles, achieving goals, and igniting inspiration. I am honored to congratulate each of them, and I hope that their successes will encourage other educators and aspiring teachers who are working hard each day to make a difference in students’ lives.”

“Kelly and Melanie represent all teachers dedicated and committed to our students,” said O’Connell. “They’re both remarkable teachers, who push students to their maximum potential through their innovative and creative methods.”

Kovacic has taught at The Preuss School in the San Diego Unified School District for seven years. Preuss is a charter school for students in grades 6-12. It provides a college-prep education for all its students, all of whom come from low-income families. “All of my students will be the first generation from their families to graduate from college,” said Kovacic. “With this honor I’m most excited about being able to be a voice for teachers and my students. I’m optimistic that the Achievement Gap can close, but it will take a collective effort. We owe our students nothing but the best.”

Tolan, who teaches English-language arts, History, and Physical Education at the Sarah Anthony School in Juvenile Hall, has been a teacher with the Juvenile Court and Community School’s (JCCS) program for 14 years. The JCCS are administered by the San Diego County Office of Education.

“I believe that every child can achieve,” said Tolan. “In my classroom I expect success from my students’ and firmly believe that there are no lost causes when it comes to kids. I believe that their monumental challenges and decisions of their lives are what will help them succeed.”

This is the second year in a row that a San Diego County teacher has represented the state in the U.S. Teacher of the Year program. Last year, Escondido’s Alex Kajitani was California’s representative, and was invited to the White House to meet President Obama as one of four national Teacher of the Year Finalists. Kajitani was at Preuss for O’Connell’s announcement and congratulated Kovacic and Tolan.

The National Teacher of the Year will be selected in the spring of 2010 by a panel convened by the Council of Chief State School Officers. All of the candidates in the program will be honored at a White House ceremony. The 2010 California Teachers of the Year will be honored at a dinner January 25, 2010 in Sacramento.