Sixteen Los Angeles County Teachers of the Year were named this weekend at a ceremony celebrating education excellence, the L.A. County Superintendent of Schools announced Saturday.
The 16 were selected from a field of 71 teachers who participated in the 31st Annual L.A. County Teachers of the Year competition. All participants had been recently selected as teacher of the year by their respective school districts.
The winning educators come from a diversity of school locales, including Arcadia, Covina, Culver City, Glendora, Lakewood, Long Beach, Los Angeles, Santa Fe Springs, Manhattan Beach, Hawthorne, Monrovia, Diamond Bar and South Pasadena.
The county competition, overseen by the county Office of Education, is the largest competition of its kind in the state and nation. County Superintendent of Schools Arturo Delgado said it is part of the oldest and most prestigious honors contest in the United States for public school teachers.
"These are dedicated women and men who everyday make the most of a precious opportunity to make a positive difference in the lives of their students," Delgado said at a banquet Friday at Universal City.
Last year's national teacher of the year, Burbank teacher Rebecca Mieliwocki, called teachers "the center of the quiet hurricane of empowerment and possibility. Every moment that you spend in the service of educating another human being is an opportunity to change the world and make it a better world," she said.
In addition to being interviewed, contestants submitted essays, lesson plans and other materials to judging panels comprised of education peers.
The 16 L.A. County winners automatically advance with other county titlists from around the state to the California Teachers of the Year competition this fall. The state is scheduled to announce its five winners in November. One of them will be chosen to represent California in the National Teacher of the Year contest next spring.
The 16 L.A. County Teachers of the Year received a $1,000 cash prize courtesy of the California Credit Union, the program's main sponsor. The other sponsors of the Teachers of the Year program were DigitalEdgeLearning and Lakeshore Learning.
This year's L.A. County Teachers of the Year are (alphabetical by district):
-- Daniel Johns, Dana Middle, Arcadia Unified School District;
-- Jennifer Felter, Merwin, Covina-Valley USD;
-- Kari Fretham, Culver City Middle, Culver City USD;
-- Lynda Okerson, Cullen Elementary, Glendora USD;
-- Jennifer Valencia, Lake Center Middle, Little Lake City School District;
-- Erin Brady, Holmes Elementary, Long Beach USD;
-- Kenneth Fisher, Cabrillo High, Long Beach USD;
-- Jeffrey Austin, Social Justice Humanitas Academy, LAUSD;
-- Stacey Joy, Baldwin Hills Gifted Magnet Elementary, LAUSD;
-- Veronica Marquez, Harmony Elementary, LAUSD;
-- Julie Borsari, Jordan Elementary, Lowell Joint School District;
-- Linda Gesualdi, Mira Costa High, Manhattan Beach USD;
-- Kyle McClure, Clifton Middle, Monrovia USD;
-- Maryann Nielsen, South Pasadena High, South Pasadena USD;
-- Sandra Davis, Diamond Bar High, Walnut Valley USD; and
-- Sheila LaCour, Richard Henry Dana Middle, Wiseburn School District.