16 LA County teachers make state's honors list

A total of 16 winners were named today as the 2010-11 Los Angeles County "Teachers of the Year,'' in the state's largest honors competition for K-12 educators.

The winning educators — 10 women and six men — teach a range of grades and subjects at a diversity of school locales, including Arcadia, Baldwin Park, Canoga Park, Culver City, Downey, Los Angeles, Long Beach, Manhattan Beach, Paramount and Pasadena.

The entire field of 81 teachers who participated in the competition had all been recently selected as teacher(s) of the year by their respective school districts, according to the Los Angeles County Office of Education.

Los Angeles County Interim Superintendent of Schools Jon R. Gundry announced the "Sweet 16'' at a morning ceremony at a Universal City hotel. Each winner received a $1,000 cash prize courtesy of the California Credit Union, the program's main sponsor.

The largest local competition of its kind in the state and nation is part of the oldest and most prestigious honors contest in the U.S. for public school teachers.

The number of winners is determined by program rules based on the total number of school teachers — 80,000 in L.A. County.

"These hard-working teachers have been judged by their colleagues as exemplifying the very best in this wonderful profession of public education,'' Gundry said. "Every day in the classroom they make the most of a precious opportunity — to make a positive difference in the lives of their students."

In addition to being interviewed, contestants submitted essays, lesson plans and other materials to judging panels comprised of their peers.

At all levels, "Teacher of the Year'' contests are "designed to focus public attention on teaching excellence and to honor exemplary dedication, compelling classroom practices, positive accomplishments and professional commitment,'' according to LACOE.

The 16 local winners automatically advance with other county finalists from around the state to the "California Teachers of the Year'' competition this fall. The state is scheduled to announce its five co-winners in November, and one of those five will be chosen to represent California in the "National Teacher of the Year'' contest next spring.

The 2010-11 L.A. County Teachers of the Year, listed alphabetically by district, are:

  • ARCADIA UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT - Kelsey Brown; Holly Avenue Elementary School, fifth grade; Years Teaching: 13;
  • AZUSA UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT - Kimberly Opel; Foothill Middle School, seventh grade; Years Teaching: 6;
  • BALDWIN PARK UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT - Beverly Gonzalez; Santa Fe School, fourth grade; Years Teaching: 15;
  • CULVER CITY UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT - Patty Eskridge; Farragut Elementary School, first grade;
    Years Teaching: 34;
  • DOWNEY UNIFIED SCHOOL DISRICT - Allison Israwi; Williams Elementary School, K-thru-third grade;
    Years Teaching: 6;
  • HACIENDA LA PUENTE UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT - Andrew King; La Puente High School, U.S. History;
    Years Teaching: 3;
  • LONG BEACH UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT - Nicole Jackson; MacArthur Elementary School, Kindergarten;
    Years Teaching: 17;
  • LOS ANGELES UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT - Josie Torres-Saffie; John Sutter Middle School, English;
    Years Teaching: 11;
  • LOS ANGELES UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT - Robert Jeffers; Dorsey High School, English; Years Teaching: 8;
  • LOS ANGELES UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT - Allison Rief; Virginia Road Elementary School, Pre-K; Years Teaching: 8;
  • LOS ANGELES UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT - Brian Morita; El Sereno Elementary School, sixth grade; Years Teaching: 8;
  • LOS ANGELES UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT - Antonia Guzman; International Studies Learning Center, English/Journalism; Years Teaching: 11;
  • MANHATTAN BEACH UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT - William Fauver; Mira Costa High School, U.S./World History; Years Teaching: 23;
  • PARAMOUNT UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT - David Balstad; Paramount Park Middle School, seventh grade;
    Years Teaching: 11;
  • PASADENA UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT - Tina Repetti Renzullo; McKinley School, Kindergarten; Years Teaching: 21;
  • SOUTH PASADENA UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT - Paul Groves; South Pasadena High School, Chemistry;
    Years Teaching: 32;