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 Five Educators Honored as San Diego County Teachers of the Year

Five local educators were named San Diego County Teachers of the Year during the "Cox Presents: A Salute to Teachers" presented by Ashford University in partnership with the San Diego County Office of Education. The annual event honored San Diego County's public school teachers and was televised live on Channel 4 San Diego from the Balboa Theatre in downtown San Diego.

The 2014-15 San Diego County Teachers of the Year are:

  • John Berray, West Hills High School (Grossmont Union High School District)
  • Mary Goins, Lakeside Middle School (Lakeside Union School District)
  • Sara Matthews, Sarah Anthony School (San Diego County Office of Education)
  • Khamphet Pease, Wilson Middle School (San Diego Unified School District)
  • Maria Teran-Cruz, Jefferson Elementary School (Carlsbad Unified School District)

There were a total of 42 teachers nominated for 2014-15 County Teacher of the Year honors out of approximately 26,000 current teachers in the region. 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.

John Berray teaches mathematics at West Hills High School in the Grossmont Union School District. His classroom is a safe place for mistakes to happen and for second chances. Berray makes his math class a lively, enjoyable experience by turning the mundane on its ear to motivate students to see the beauty of mathematics and its omnipresence, and to understand the important connection between their education and the rest of their lives.

Mary Goins teaches visual arts at Lakeside Middle School in the Lakeside Union School District. "I teach art" are her three favorite words. She greets her artists at the door, welcoming them to the studio. Her student-artists enjoy the freedom and challenges art offers. She has changed art from an "easy A" class into a rigorous, standards-based, vocabulary-rich, cross-curricular engaging subject. The art studio is a place of calm and safety where students have the opportunity for self-expression and the ability to view the on-going work of others, giving feedback, asking questions and sharing suggestions.

Sara Matthews teaches science to eighth to 12th grade students at Sarah Anthony School operated by the San Diego County Office of Education. Sara's school and class is located in the Kearny Mesa Juvenile Detention Facility. There is no typical day in her classroom since students ages can range from 12 to 18, and students may stay in class for just one day or for a few months. Her classroom culture nourishes the belief that through hardship and despair you can choose to be resilient. Since her students don't always see themselves as part of a greater society, Matthews motivates them to develop an interest in the world around them and see themselves as contributors.

Khamphet Pease teaches math, computers, gateway to technology and robotics to sixth to eighth grade students at Wilson Middle School in the San Diego Unified School District. Pease is dedicated to her students and holds them to a high standard. When transportation is needed to participate in activities, the "Pease Mobile" - her eight passenger minivan - comes to the students' rescue.

Maria Teran-Cruz teaches fourth grade at Jefferson Elementary School in the Carlsbad Unified School District. She didn't start out as a teacher, but she always knew that she wanted to help and work with children. After escaping the civil war in Nicaragua with her family, Teran-Cruz became a chiropractor, but she was drawn to teaching. She instills values of integrity, honesty and hard work, and believes that education is not only learning academics, but also learning how to navigate your life with honor and dedication. 

Rounding out the top 10, Teachers of the Year finalists were Ken Herschman, Crawford High School (San Diego Unified School District); Helen Keeran, Alternative Education (Sweetwater Union High School District); Stephanie Martin, Willow Grove Elementary School (Poway Unified School District); Crystal Ochoa, Sunset Hills Elementary School (Poway Unified School District); Jesse Schuveiller, Fallbrook High School (Fallbrook Union High School District).

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

  • Saturday, Oct. 11 at 10:00 p.m.
  • Sunday, Oct. 12 at 8:00 p.m.
  • Saturday, Oct. 18 at 6:00 p.m.
  • Friday, Oct. 24 at 8:00 p.m.
  • Saturday, Oct. 25 at 7:00 p.m.

The telecast will also replay on ITV Channel 16 on:

  • Sunday, Oct. 19 at 5:30 p.m.
  • Saturday, Oct. 25 at 5:00 p.m.
  • Sunday, Oct. 26 at 2:00 p.m. 
  • Tuesday, Nov. 11 at 2:00 p.m.

    Sponsors of "Cox Presents: A Salute to Teachers" included presenting sponsor Ashford University; San Diego County Office of Education; U.S.S. Midway; San Diego County Credit Union; Sycuan Band of the Kumeyaay Nation; Valley View Casino Center; Procopio; National Geographic Channel; Disney and ESPN Media Networks; LEGOLAND; Modern Home Systems; Sunshine Communications; Hallmark Channel; Discovery Channel; U-T San Diego; and Nothing Bundt Cakes.