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 District Teachers of the Year Introduced as We Celebrate Teacher Appreciation Week

More and more people across the country are starting to realize something that we in education have known for a long time – teachers are pretty important.

This week marks Teacher Appreciation Week, a time to honor the tremendous contributions of teachers and recognize the vital role they play in children’s lives. While school facilities may be closed, teachers continue their efforts to ensure students have the tools they need to succeed in college and career, and also the social-emotional support they need to work through these challenging times. 

“I want to express my sincere gratitude to the more than 22,000 public school teachers in San Diego County for the amazing work you do each day for our students and for society,” said County Superintendent of Schools Dr. Paul Gothold. “A lot of things have changed due to the pandemic, but the dedication of our educators is a constant.”

Districts across the county often host celebrations during this week to honor teachers, including those they’ve selected as District Teacher of the Year. While the celebrations may look different this year, the message to all teachers is clear: Thank you for all that you do!

As in years past, individuals who earn district teacher of the year honors have the opportunity to be considered for County Teacher of the Year, a process run by the San Diego County Office of Education (SDCOE). Because the process has been delayed, the potential candidates are introducing themselves and sharing their thoughts on teaching through videos. Watch them on the SDCOE YouTube channel. Additional videos will be added throughout the week. 

Included in this group is SDCOE’s own Angela Ortiz, who teaches at Bayside Community School. She credits her team at the school for helping her earn Teacher of the Year honors, and for helping students in need during this time. 

“We’ve been delivering crucial supplies to students such as Chromebooks, food, hygiene products, diapers, and other items. This is a dire time for our students,” she said. “We hope to receive more support from the community to help support our families. Our students are eager to learn. We miss them so much and we look forward to getting back to Bayside soon.”

Marlys Williamson, a fifth grade teacher in Chula Vista, agrees that it’s important teachers focus on the social-emotional needs of students during this time, and the academics will follow. 

“To make that connection, I meet with smaller groups. I am there to give them a virtual hug, to be their comfort, and to be their biggest cheerleader,” she said.

When students in Marcos Michel’s third grade classroom in Alpine return to school, they’ll be greeted with this phrase that’s posted in the front of his room. 

“Give me a fish, I eat today. Show me how to fish, I eat every day.”

“I emphasize with students that when we come across something we don’t understand, it’s much wiser to learn it yourself than from someone else,” he said. “My students understand that its best to learn things on their own and be independent. This attitude applies not only to a school setting but to life in general.” 

That’s wisdom that could help us all right now.