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Congratulations, Teachers of the Year!

November 13, 2010

On November 12, the California Department of Education (CDE) announced the California Teachers of the Year for 2011.  I’d like to take a moment to congratulate them, and wish them well for the upcoming year.

From the CDE news release, here are their names and the schools where they teach:

  • Shannan Brown teaches fifth grade at Thomas Edison Elementary School, San Juan Unified School District, in Sacramento (Sacramento County).
  • Darin Curtis teaches eighth grade physical education at Tierra del Sol Middle School, Lakeside Union School District, in Lakeside (San Diego County).
  • Beverly Gonzalez teaches fourth grade mathematics and writing at Santa Fe School, Baldwin Park Unified School District, in Baldwin Park (Los Angeles County).
  • Jennifer Kelly teaches eighth grade physical science at Middletown Middle School, Middletown Unified School District, in Middletown (Lake County).
  • Khadir Rajagopal teaches ninth through eleventh grade mathematics at Grant Union High School, Twin Rivers Unified School District, in Sacramento (Sacramento County).

Kelly Kovacic with President Obama (California Web/

Here at Accomplished California Teachers, we’re focused on teacher leadership, and naturally very interested in learning more about these teachers, and learning from them in 2011.  Teachers of the Year are educators who have put themselves and their practices under great scrutiny, in exchange for the opportunity to serve as teacher leaders in a unique capacity.  We started this group blog, InterACT, in March of 2010, and we’ve had the honor of having 2010 California Teacher of the Year Kelly Kovacic as one of the featured writers on this blog.  Kelly represented our state in the national Teacher of the Year program, and has consistently spoken out and written about the possibility and the urgency of providing the highest quality education for all of California’s students.  Along with ACT’s Anthony Cody, Kelly also co-authored an opinion piece for the Sacramento Bee, highlighting the ACT report on teacher evaluation reforms.

Another member of the 2010 California Teacher of the Year cohort is Valerie Ziegler.  We’re glad to have Valerie in San Francisco, a little closer to ACT headquarters at Stanford.  In fact, Valerie and I had the opportunity to address National Board candidates at a Stanford-based and ACT-organized event last spring.  (You can find videos of our remarks on the Accomplished California Teachers YouTube channel).  Valerie has also contributed to InterACT, writing about how her students, high-schoolers considering careers in teaching, reacted to Waiting for Superman.  And most recently, Valerie had an opinion piece in today’s San Francisco Chronicle, co-authored with ACT Director Sandy Dean (again, discussing the ACT teacher evaluation report).  Valerie, Kelly, and their fellow California Teachers of the Year also blogged their own Journals from Japan during their educational and cultural exchange visit to Japan, and we featured two of Valerie’s posts on InterACT as well (here, and here).

In 2009, California’s Teacher of the Year representative in the national program was Alex Kajitani, who has also become a friend and supporter of ACT (thanks to an introduction by our friend, another former Teacher of the Year, Cindi Rigsbee of North Carolina).  Alex has been kind enough to co-author two newspaper opinion pieces with me (EDIT 11/14 added link) most recently in the San Diego Union-Tribune, and he has also brought the work of ACT into local discussions in his district, putting our evaluation report to practical use, hopefully to the benefit of teachers and students.

Congratulations to the 2010 Teachers of the Year, now nearly done with their time in the spotlight.  (Wells Fargo ATM users have seen these five teachers on a regular basis!).  Thank you for your extra effort and work as teacher leaders.  And congratulations once again to Shannan, Darin, Beverly, Jennifer, and Khadir!  We look forward to hearing what you have to say, and welcome all the help we can get in advancing teacher leadership for better education in California.

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