Two of the five San Diego County Teachers of
the Year were named finalists Monday for the statewide recognition.
Cynthia Jackson, who teaches eighth grade at Hidden
Valley Middle School in Escondido, and Crystal Rienick, who teaches English at
Valley Center High School in Valley Center, were among the six finalists.
Neither is one of the five 2014 California Teachers of the Year.
Jackson, Rienick and the other finalists will
be honored at a gala in February by Tom Torlakson, state superintendent of
Jackson's students create their own countries,
complete with constitutions, executive branches, and legislatures as well as their
own national currency. Lessons like these help students feel
empowered by giving
them a sense of control over their lives both personally and
Rienick attributes her success as a teacher to
connections: connections from teacher to student, student to student, student
to the world, and student to himself or herself. She was an “early adopter” of
using technology in the classroom. Her students are now creating multimedia
projects, researching topics of interest, collaborating with Google apps and
are currently working on electronic portfolios for their senior projects.
The California Teachers of the Year Program is
open to educators teaching pre-kindergarten through grade 12. County offices of
education nominate winners through regional 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, among other criteria. The teachers are
interviewed at the California Department of Education in Sacramento. The State
Superintendent then selects the awardees.