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 SDCOE Educator One of Five County Teachers of the Year

Sara Matthews has been a teacher since she was a young child.

Back then, she taught class in her bedroom, and her pupils were stuffed animals and other children from the neighborhood. Now, she's able to reach some of the county's most vulnerable students as an instructional coach for the San Diego County Office of Education's Juvenile Court and Community Schools (JCCS).

Because of her dedication to students of all types, Matthews was named one of five San Diego County Teachers of the Year Oct. 11 at the annual "Cox Presents: A Salute to Teachers" event in downtown San Diego.

"Sara personified what it means to learn and to lead on behalf of our students," said Stacy Spector, JCCS executive director.

She has been a teacher with the San Diego County Office of Education for the last eight years. Before becoming an instructional coach, she was a teacher at Sarah Anthony School in the Kearny Mesa Juvenile Detention Facility.

She said she's proud of the amazing success stories happening every day within the JCCS program.

"The common thread between all of my students has been that they're really going through a lot of challenges, but they're all just like any other kid," she said. "They all just want to succeed and find that connection."

Matthews will represent teachers throughout the county along with the other four 2015 teachers of the year:

  • John Berray, West Hills High School (Grossmont Union High School District)
  • Mary Goins, Lakeside Middle School (Lakeside Union School District)
  • Khamphet Pease, Wilson Middle School (San Diego Unified School District)
  • Maria Teran-Cruz, Jefferson Elementary School (Carlsbad Unified School District)

Finalists were selected based on student achievement, teaching philosophy, familiarity with current issues in education and community involvement.

The five teachers of the year will represent San Diego County in the California Teacher of the Year program. The state winner will be announced later this year.

Since 1974, there have been 151 teachers named San Diego County Teacher of the Year. Of those teachers, 18 were named California Teacher of the Year and three went on to be named National Teacher of the Year.

"Cox Presents: A Salute to Teachers" telecast will replay on Channel 4 San Diego on:

  • Oct. 18 at 6 p.m.
  • Oct. 24 at 8 p.m.
  • Oct. 25 at 7 p.m.

The telecast will also replay on ITV Channel 16 on:

  • Oct. 19 at 5:30 p.m.
  • Oct. 25 at 5 p.m.
  • Oct. 26 at 2 p.m. 
  • Nov. 11 at 2 p.m.