Five great teachers were honored as 2008 San Diego County Teachers of the Year Saturday, culminating the annual black tie television production of Cox Presents "A Salute to Teachers."
Before a jubilant crowd of more than 2,000 at San Diego's Civic Theatre, County Superintendent of Schools Randy Ward and Cox Communications Vice President Bill Geppert opened the final envelopes and read the honorees' names:
--- Vicki Pilling, who teaches special education students at Solana Santa Fe School in the Solana Beach School District. She has taught for 23 years, currently working with third-through-sixth graders. "Every child should be fortunate enough to be touched by Mrs. Pilling," said her Solana Santa Fe Principal Julie Norby. "She graciously gives each of her students such a wonderful gift. A gift that says, 'I am important and I am worthy---I am capable of learning anything and facing any challenge."
--- Chris Stanley, a language arts, social studies and physical education teacher at Carlton Hills School in the Santee School District. Stanley has taught 12 years. "Not only does Mr. Stanley strive to bring learning alive in the classroom, but he innately understands and appreciates the importance of connecting learning beyond the classroom and into the community," wrote Santee School District Assistant Superintendent John Tofflemire.
--- Andee Aceves, who teaches third graders at San Altos Elementary School in the Lemon Grove School District. She has taught 15 years, all at San Altos, and her district superintendent Ernie Anastos wrote of her, "Andee's commitment to her students, in fact to all children, is something that permeates everything she does. Not a moment goes by in class when a student is not being praised and urged on by Andee. Students thrive in this environment of teamwork and support."
--- Freddie Chavarria of Jefferson Middle School in the Oceanside Unified School District. Chavarria, an algebra and pre-algebra teacher, works with seventh and eighth graders, and has taught for eight years. "What Freddie does can not be taught," wrote his Jefferson colleague Ellen Rubin. "He inspires his students and creates a lifelong desire for learning in all of them. His compassion, kindness and acceptance of his students, along with his knowledge and strength, make him an amazing person, teacher and leader."
--- Tammy Reina teaches incarcerated boys at East Mesa School, located within the East Mesa Juvenile Detention Facility adjacent to the International Border. A former probation officer, Reina became a teacher in order to have greater impact on young people. Her students include some of the most serious juvenile offenders in the county. "On an ideal day, when I explain to students how reading aloud helps to improve their reading fluency, I will have almost every hand shoot into the air when I aask for volunteers. Then when I call on a student to read who has not volunteered before, knowing the text will be difficult for him, I will see the relief and incredible pride on his face when he finishes the passage."
The "Salute to Teachers" production was the 17th that Cox Communications and the San Diego County Office of Education have collaborated on. CNN news anchor Kyra Phillips and Ch. 4 San Diego station manager Dennis Morgigno co-hosted the show.
Key sponsors included Sycuan, SDG&E, the Fish Market restaurants, National University, National Geographic Network, and Sony.
Each of the five Teachers of the Year received $1,000 and a Sony laptop computer. Five additional Teacher of the Year finalists received $500 and a Sony laptop computer. Those teachers were Carrie Danielson of Olympian High in the Sweetwater Union High School District; Beth Duncan of the Vista Academy of Visual and Performing Arts in the Vista Unified School District; Lisa Hawk of The Preuss School in San Diego Unified School District; Raquel Luna of La Mesa Dale School in the La Mesa-Spring Valley School District; and Marcia Resetco of Winter Gardens School in the Lakeside Union School District.