The San Diego County Office of Education Teacher of the Year selection committee announced selected Mary Brewer, from the East County SELPA, as the winner of this year’s competition. Brewer works as an Itinerant Teacher of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing.
Brewer has many years of teaching experience including assignments in Illinois, Alaska, and Wisconsin. She joined SDCOE in 1990 and has been providing itinerant teaching support for students classified as deaf or hard of hearing across the 1,100 square mile East County SELPA since that time. Her wealth of experience as a general education teacher and reading specialist, prior to her work with the deaf and hard of hearing, makes her an exceptionally qualified teacher who is able to develop individual educational plans (IEP) for her students that bring them success at home, in the community, at school and in life. Tim Glover, Assistant Superintendent for the Student Services and Programs Division, states that, “Brewer has a way of weaving students, staff, parents, and community agencies into an incredibly well organized support system for student success in school and beyond.”
Brewer is well respected throughout East County for her knowledge, compassion, and dedication to our students. District staff and parents routinely rely upon Brewer’s expertise to guide decisions regarding students’ needs. Brewer cares deeply for her students and their success. She goes out of her way to ensure their success towards their IEP goals. At the start of each semester, Brewer works diligently to develop resources. She has created a process in which the student writes a letter to their general education teacher explaining their disability and accommodations that work for them. In doing so, she not only informs the practices of the general education teacher, but she teaches the students how to advocate for their needs.
Her dedication to her students is without equal. Students with hearing impairments can often feel isolated as some school sites may have only one or two students with that disability. Brewer builds relationships among her students to help them feel a part of a community. For example, when a student was recently struggling with being fitted with hearing aids, to the point she was avoiding wearing them, Brewer connected that student with other middle school girls with hearing impairments. This helped the student realize she was not alone. Another student recently wrote an essay for her high school English class detailing the depth of her depression and lack of friends in middle school; in it, she credits her ability to join clubs and have friends to the support of Brewer.
Brewer’s influence has also extended beyond the classroom. She has served on the DHH Task Force, the Revision Committee for State Guidelines for DHH Programs, is a CAL-ED member and presenter, and a conference organizer for Itinerant Teachers SIG.
Raised by Italian immigrant parents with limited formal education, she learned early in life that teachers and education were to be highly esteemed. After years of teaching, Brewer’s passion for education is still very apparent, as evidenced by the impact she has on each of her students.
As the winner of the SDCOE Teacher of the Year competition, Brewer now advances to the countywide Teacher of the Year competition, where she will compete with school district Teachers of the Year for the title of San Diego County Teacher of the Year.
To determine the SDCOE Teacher of the Year, each of the four SDCOE educational programs (Special Education, HOPE Infant & Family Support, JCCS, and Outdoor Education) submitted their program’s Teacher of the Year, who then participated in an observation and interview process with the selection committee. In addition to Brewer, the program winners are Susan Powell, Outdoor Education; Melinda Ashley, HOPE Infant & Family Support; and Elmer Vigilia, JCCS.