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 Four Named SDCOE Teachers of the Year


Four San Diego County Office of Education (SDCOE) educators were recently recognized as Teachers of the Year for their hard work educating our unique populations of students.

The awards were given for SDCOE’s four programs that have credentialed teachers: HOPE Infant Family Support, Outdoor Education, Special Education Services, and Juvenile Court and Community Schools (JCCS).

“Thank you for the work that you do every day,” Superintendent Randy Ward told the teachers at the awards reception May 15.

The honoree for the JCCS program, Sara Matthews, was also named the overall SDCOE Teacher of the Year​. She has been with JCCS for the last eight years.

Matthews teaches girls at Sarah Anthony School in the Kearny Mesa Juvenile Detention Facility, where she keeps high expectations for her students, said Stacy Spector, executive director of the JCCS program.

Matthews said she is thrilled to be able to play a part in the success of her students, no matter how small.

“All you want for these kids is to be the best that they can be,” she said.

Larry Savage received the honor for his work with infants and toddlers with special needs through the HOPE Infant Family Support program. He has worked with the program for nearly a decade.

It can often be a difficult job, as he has to work with small children with intense medical needs, said Lucia Garay, executive director of Early Education Programs and Services.

“He has a very tender heart,” Garay said “He makes the difference in the lives of those families.”

Susan Powell received the honor for her work with children at Camp Cuyamaca as part of the Outdoor Education program. She is able to provide a safe haven for students there, many of whom are dealing with homesickness during their week away at camp, said Tina Chin, executive director of Outdoor Education.

Powell has worked at the camp for 25 years and she said she is still excited to see a new group of students each Monday.

“I just love seeing the students step up, week after week, and show us what they can do,” she said.

Shannon Unterberg was honored within the Special Education Services unit for her work at Friendship School with students with severe disabilities. There, she helps teachers learn to use technology and software and works with the kids.

“Teaching for Shannon comes from the heart,” said Tim Glover, assistant superintendent of Student Services and Programs. “It’s effortless.”

Photo: Susan Powell (from left), Sara Matthews, and Shannon Unterberg pose with their awards after the Teachers of the Year reception at SDCOE's main campus May 15. The other recipient, Larry Savage, was unable to attend the reception.