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
“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
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
“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
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.