Everything was awesome at Legoland California when a dozen "hero" teachers were honored by the San Diego County Office of Education (SDCOE); Entercom radio stations FM94/9, KSON, and Sunny 98.1; Padres Radio Network; Azusa Pacific University San Diego Regional Campus; San Diego County Toyota Dealers; Legoland; and Papa John's Pizza.
Since 2001, listeners of FM94/9, KSON-FM, and Sunny 98.1 have been invited to write in to nominate a teacher for the Teachers Are Heroes program. Nominators have told heartfelt stories of teachers going above and beyond their jobs in creating a lifelong love for learning in our children. Each school year, 12 teachers are selected by a panel of station and sponsor representatives to be recognized by the program. A team of radio station and sponsor representatives, and an official from SDCOE, visit each winner at his or her school to surprise the honored teacher at an all-school assembly. The nomination essay is read aloud in front of students, teachers, staff, and visiting parents.
As a show of appreciation, "hero" teachers receive a variety of prizes and an engraved plaque, and the teacher's class is rewarded with a pizza party, courtesy of Papa John’s. At the conclusion of the school year, teachers, students, and families gather for a complimentary fun day at Legoland, which includes a private presentation ceremony.
Congratulations to the 2016-17 Teachers Are Heroes honorees:
Amy Satter, integrated life skills teacher, Hage Elementary
Amy Satter teaches and works with students who have special needs at Hage Elementary, a San Diego Unified school in Mira Mesa. Satter is an Education Specialist for students with moderate to severe disabilities. Her primary focus is helping children succeed through movement, emotional regulation and social communication. "She looks at all aspects of the student, to foster learning and growth in a social environment. She is extremely patient, loving and consistent with each student. If you talk to anyone who knows Amy or who has worked with her, they will tell you she has boundless energy, physical, emotional and mental, as well as a passion for teaching her students."
Tina Marie Carpenter, 6th-grade teacher, Central Elementary
“I am nominating Ms. Carpenter because she is amazing. She has been teaching 28 years in the same district, at the same school. She goes above and beyond the call of duty by spending her own money on books and things for her students, raising funds every year for them to be able to go to 6th Grade Camp, and being available for them outside of the classroom.” Central Elementary is South Bay Union School District campus in Imperial Beach.
Anne Kendall, 1st-grade teacher, Vista Grande Elementary
“KSON suggested that if we knew an amazing teacher who deserved recognition for a great job, we should nominate him or her. As soon as I heard about the chance, I had to recognize my son's first grade teacher. My son and our whole family has had an exceptional year with Mrs. Anne Kendall. She treated him with dignity, respect, tolerance, and still held him accountable in a kind way. She is a professional who runs her business with competence and care. I can think of no higher praise that can be given than to simply say that Anne Kendall is the best.” Vista Grande Elementary is a San Diego Unified school in Tierrasanta.
Susan Yates, 3rd/4th-grade teacher, Cadman Elementary
“Susan Yates has such a passion for teaching and the kids absolutely adore her. Her hands-on approach leaves a lasting impact on her students. Mrs. Yates has taken it upon herself to start a choir program where all are welcome to participate. She does this with no extra pay and volunteers her time and money to provide this wonderful experience for these kids. They are very lucky to have such an amazing teacher who understands the importance of music and arts education.” Cadman Elementary is a San Diego Unified school in Bay Park.
Lisa Alessio, kindergarten teacher, Spreckels Elementary
“Mrs. Lisa Alessio taught all three of my children and guided and helped them throughout their first year of school. Mrs. Alessio not only taught them, but she loved, cared for, and nurtured them. She turned my children into bright and beautiful young students, introducing them to the world of learning. Mrs. Alessio is a truly loving and nurturing person, and highly deserving of this award.” Spreckels Elementary is a San Diego Unified school in University City.
Denise Stephens, 1st-grade teacher, Blossom Valley Elementary
“We have been at our school for several years. My second of three daughters had Mrs. Stephens last year for 1st grade. She is absolutely amazing. On the first day of school she made them feel comfortable by sharing that she is a grandma. She asked the kids, ‘Are you afraid of your grandma?’ They all said, ‘No.’ She then told them she was going to make the kids feel like school was Disneyland. And she definitely did. Every day my daughter came home happy, and I saw many kids with the same demeanor. She always hand-wrote notes on homework, not just the usual ‘good job,’ but specific notes to each child. She makes everyone, even the parents, feel super smart, talented, and appreciated.” Blossom Valley Elementary is a Cajon Valley Union School District campus in El Cajon.
Laurie Walker, 2nd-grade teacher, Avocado Elementary
“I believe that nobody loves her job more than Miss Walker does. She always has time for anyone that needs help. She stays after school tutoring kids that need improvement in any subject. Miss Walker is the one who gets to school first in the morning and the last one to leave the campus. Some kids ask her if she lives in the school. She was my son’s teacher last year and is now my daughter’s teacher. They both love her.” Avocado Elementary is a Cajon Valley Union School District campus in La Mesa.
Kaitlyn Delaney, 5th-grade teacher, King-Chavez Academy of Excellence
“Kaitlyn is an amazing teacher and person. I've never seen someone give so much of herself. She changes lives at King-Chavez and it's truly amazing to see. Her class was broken into and the electronics were stolen and she still kept her head up and loved on those kids! She makes every single of one those kids' life better.” King-Chavez is a charter school in Logan Heights.
Joe Kemery, 4th/5th grade teacher, PRIDE Academy
“Mr. Kemery is one amazing teacher. He is energetic and fun. He shows up for school every morning with a huge smile. He truly enjoys teaching and it shows through his day-to-day interactions with his students and parents. He finds his students’ strengths and weaknesses and he works with each individual kid. I feel so blessed to have him as my daughter’s teacher.” PRIDE Academy is a Santee School District campus.
Kerry Clamon, 4th-grade teacher, School of the Madeleine
“Ms. Clamon is a dedicated teacher that really cares about her students and treats each one as individuals. She is regularly having her students work on projects and makes a point to display those items within the classroom. She is just what you would imagine a 4th-grade teacher to be. She's kind, she really cares about each of her students, and can be really funny when appropriate.” School of the Madeleine is a Catholic elementary school in Bay Park.
Leslie VanDam, 3rd-grade teacher, Lemon Crest Elementary
“Ms. VanDam is an amazing teacher. My granddaughter is in 3rd grade and with Ms. Van Dam she never wants to miss school. My granddaughter just loves school now. I think that in itself should be acknowledged for this amazing teacher.” Lemon Crest Elementary is a Lakeside Union School District campus.
Ed Sandstrom, 4th-grade teacher, Los Peñasquitos Elementary
“Mr. Sandstrom teaches 4th Grade Academy at Los Peñasquitos Elementary School. Not only does Mr. Sandstrom teach, he is also the head chairman of the academy. Mr. Sandstrom has gone above and beyond consistently to encourage, support and care for my son. His tender heart in really wanting my son to succeed has been so magnificent that even other colleagues have said they have never seen Mr. Sandstrom make these personal sacrifices for a student.” Los Peñasquitos Elementary is a Poway Unified school in Rancho Peñasquitos.
Nominate a teacher now!
To nominate a teacher, submit an entry form. Let the radio station know in 500 words or less why the teacher you are nominating is a hero. You can also mail an entry, submitting the form to, "Teachers Are Heroes," 1615 Murray Canyon Road, Suite 710, San Diego, CA 92108.