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 Santee Educator Named CA Teacher of the Year

Tiffany Jokerst from West Hills High School in the Grossmont Union High School District is among the five 2022 California Teachers of the Year, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond announced today.

Jokerst teaches math and engineering to students in grades 9 through 12 at the Santee high school. 

“Tiffany is a shining example of an educator who works tirelessly to ensure that her students are engaged and poised for success, both in school and beyond,” said Dr. Paul Gothold, San Diego County superintendent of schools. “She has persevered through challenging times and remains dedicated to elevating all her students. We are proud to have her represent all San Diego County teachers.”

Thurmond said he is thrilled to honor five outstanding and talented teachers who have gone above and beyond during a challenging time in education, and in our lives.

"In what may be the toughest ever time for California families, students and educators, these five innovative and caring teachers have made profound differences in the lives of their students and communities," said Thurmond. "I'm proud that these educators are receiving this prestigious honor for their continued effort to connect with students even during unimaginable circumstances, to address their needs, and support them in any way they can."

Jokerst, who has been teaching for 15 years, gets her students past their fear of math by building relationships through endearing interaction, humorous activities like disco polynomial day, and facilitating discussions beyond math – all to create a safe environment where students can take risks, learn from one another, and thrive.

She says her greatest reward in teaching is watching students who were apprehensive about math evolve into optimistic, confident math learners.

"When I create experiences that draw from real-life scenarios, each student is drawn into the conversation and can contribute, and find success, despite their background knowledge. Uniqueness is celebrated in my class daily," she said.

"Students have commented that before my class, they always felt that math should be done in one way, but now they strive to be the student that finds a different way to solve problems."

Anna, a student of three years, said Jokerst without fail made sure she and all students felt welcome, and ensured they had a safe, comfortable place to learn.

"She greeted our class every morning with energy and enthusiasm to teach and made learning in her class fun and something I looked forward to daily," she said.

Presented by California Casualty and supported by the California Teachers of the Year Foundation, the California Teachers of the Year Program began in 1972 to honor outstanding teachers and encourage and inspire new teachers to enter the profession.

County offices of education nominate California Teachers of the Year applicants through their county-level competitions. CDE selection committees review applications; evaluate teachers' rapport with students, classroom environments, presentation skills, and teaching techniques; and interview the teachers. The State Superintendent of Public Instruction then selects the five California Teachers of the Year and the National Teacher of the Year nominee.

Since 1974, 186 teachers have been named San Diego County Teacher of the Year. Of those, 23 were named California Teacher of the Year, and three went on to be named National Teacher of the Year. The last San Diego County teacher to be named a California Teacher of the Year was San Diego High School's Jaime Brown in 2017.

Joining Jokerst as 2022 California Teachers of the Year are Alondra Diaz, who is a third-grade general education and dual immersion teacher at Ralph A. Gates Elementary School in the Saddleback Valley Unified School District, Orange County; Nichi Avina, who is a middle school science teacher at Cielo Vista Charter School in the Palm Springs Unified School District, Riverside County; Sovantevy Long-Latteri, who is a special education teacher at La Sierra High School in the Fullerton Joint Union High School District, Orange County; Virginia Vasquez, who is an AP Language and Composition teacher at San Gabriel High School in the Alhambra Unified School District, Los Angeles County.

Thurmond nominated Diaz as California's representative for the National Teacher of the Year competition. Diaz will compete against other state nominees, and the 2022 National Teacher of the Year will be announced in the spring.

For more information, visit the CDE's California Teachers of the Year webpage