Santa Clarita’s top teachers honored at annual Teacher Tribute

By Christina Cox

Last update: Tuesday, April 11th, 2017

Some of the Santa Clarita Valley’s most celebrated teachers were recognized Tuesday for their leadership and excellence in classrooms at all school sites in the area’s five public school districts.

The Santa Clarita Valley Education Foundation honored these 54 teachers with fanfare, cheers and awards at the 33rd annual Teacher Tribute at the Performing Arts Center at College of the Canyons.

“It’s a wonderful community event for all the teachers to be honored,” said Alexis Yannich, board member of the SCV Education Foundation and Newhall School District’s assistant superintendent for human resources. “They work so hard and are so committed to what they do.”

To receive the honor, teachers must meet a list of criteria set by the SCV Education Foundation and be nominated by their colleagues. This criteria includes inspiring students and teachers to achieve excellence, displaying professionalism, supporting all students in learning and demonstrating a passion to help children.

“We are here to celebrate champions,” said Dave Caldwell, the Teacher Tribute Master of Ceremonies and public information officer for the Hart District. “No kind of career has an impact on society like teachers… no one can be productive without teacher and no one can have a great life without teachers.”

In total four Castaic Union School District (CUSD) teachers, 10 Newhall School District (NSD) teachers, nine Sulphur Springs Union School District (SSUSD) teachers, 15 Saugus Union School District (SUSD) teachers and 16 William S. Hart Union High School District teachers were honored during the event.

“I was really surprised,” said Krysti Simmons, a Live Oak Elementary School teacher who has been at the school for 15 years and part of CUSD since 1995. “It’s an honor and a really wonderful thing that they do for the teachers. I sincerely appreciate that the SCV Education Foundation does this.”

Jennifer Klipfel, a seventh grade science teacher at Arroyo Seco Junior High School, was honored with a similar award, Hart District Teacher of the Year, 20 years ago.

“It reminds me that the efforts I put in to serve my students are recognized by the colleagues I work with and I hope I can be a role model to them at my site,” said Klipfel, who has been with the Hart District since 1993.

Gail Knipp, right, smiles as she accepts her 2017 Teacher Honoree at the Teacher Tribute on Tuesday, April 11, 2017 at College of the Canyons. Knipp, who teaches at Highlands Elementary, will retire this year after 38 years of teaching. Katharine Lotze/The Signal

Many of this year’s recipients expressed their gratitude that their colleagues nominated them for the honor from the SCV Education Foundation.

“I’m very appreciative of my colleagues for giving me this honor and for recognizing the work that I do,” said Kellie Konti, an eighth grade teacher Sierra Vista Junior High School who has been with the Hart District for 18 years.

Ken Newton, a sixth grade teacher at Fair Oaks Ranch Community School, was the only male elementary school teacher recognized at the event. He has spent 21 years as an elementary school teacher.

“It makes me feel honored. I love what I do and I’m passionate about what I do,” he said. “It’s the utmost compliment to be honored by your peers.”

With the theme of “Celebrating Champions” in the classroom, the Teacher Tribute promoted a greater appreciation for public school teachers and excellence in public education.

“Teachers are the unsung heroes of society so it’s nice to get a pat on the back,” Newton said.

In addition to the teacher tributes, seven students received $10,000 in scholarships from the foundation. Each of the student recipient plans on pursuing careers related to education.

Erin Oxhorn-Gilpin, right, smiles after accepting her 2017 Teacher Honoree award along with her fellow Castaic Union School District at the Teacher Tribute at College of the Canyons on Tuesday, April 11, 2017. Katharine Lotze/The Signal

ccox@signalscv.com
661-287-5575
On Twitter as @_ChristinaCox_

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Santa Clarita’s top teachers honored at annual Teacher Tribute

Mary Ann Walker, a teacher at Plum Canyon Elementary, feigns relief after accepting her 2017 Teacher Honoree award at the Teacher Tribute at College of the Canyons on April 11, 2017. Walker will retire this year after 40 years of teaching. Katharine Lotze/The Signal

Some of the Santa Clarita Valley’s most celebrated teachers were recognized Tuesday for their leadership and excellence in classrooms at all school sites in the area’s five public school districts.

The Santa Clarita Valley Education Foundation honored these 54 teachers with fanfare, cheers and awards at the 33rd annual Teacher Tribute at the Performing Arts Center at College of the Canyons.

“It’s a wonderful community event for all the teachers to be honored,” said Alexis Yannich, board member of the SCV Education Foundation and Newhall School District’s assistant superintendent for human resources. “They work so hard and are so committed to what they do.”

To receive the honor, teachers must meet a list of criteria set by the SCV Education Foundation and be nominated by their colleagues. This criteria includes inspiring students and teachers to achieve excellence, displaying professionalism, supporting all students in learning and demonstrating a passion to help children.

“We are here to celebrate champions,” said Dave Caldwell, the Teacher Tribute Master of Ceremonies and public information officer for the Hart District. “No kind of career has an impact on society like teachers… no one can be productive without teacher and no one can have a great life without teachers.”

In total four Castaic Union School District (CUSD) teachers, 10 Newhall School District (NSD) teachers, nine Sulphur Springs Union School District (SSUSD) teachers, 15 Saugus Union School District (SUSD) teachers and 16 William S. Hart Union High School District teachers were honored during the event.

“I was really surprised,” said Krysti Simmons, a Live Oak Elementary School teacher who has been at the school for 15 years and part of CUSD since 1995. “It’s an honor and a really wonderful thing that they do for the teachers. I sincerely appreciate that the SCV Education Foundation does this.”

Jennifer Klipfel, a seventh grade science teacher at Arroyo Seco Junior High School, was honored with a similar award, Hart District Teacher of the Year, 20 years ago.

“It reminds me that the efforts I put in to serve my students are recognized by the colleagues I work with and I hope I can be a role model to them at my site,” said Klipfel, who has been with the Hart District since 1993.

Gail Knipp, right, smiles as she accepts her 2017 Teacher Honoree at the Teacher Tribute on Tuesday, April 11, 2017 at College of the Canyons. Knipp, who teaches at Highlands Elementary, will retire this year after 38 years of teaching. Katharine Lotze/The Signal

Many of this year’s recipients expressed their gratitude that their colleagues nominated them for the honor from the SCV Education Foundation.

“I’m very appreciative of my colleagues for giving me this honor and for recognizing the work that I do,” said Kellie Konti, an eighth grade teacher Sierra Vista Junior High School who has been with the Hart District for 18 years.

Ken Newton, a sixth grade teacher at Fair Oaks Ranch Community School, was the only male elementary school teacher recognized at the event. He has spent 21 years as an elementary school teacher.

“It makes me feel honored. I love what I do and I’m passionate about what I do,” he said. “It’s the utmost compliment to be honored by your peers.”

With the theme of “Celebrating Champions” in the classroom, the Teacher Tribute promoted a greater appreciation for public school teachers and excellence in public education.

“Teachers are the unsung heroes of society so it’s nice to get a pat on the back,” Newton said.

In addition to the teacher tributes, seven students received $10,000 in scholarships from the foundation. Each of the student recipient plans on pursuing careers related to education.

Erin Oxhorn-Gilpin, right, smiles after accepting her 2017 Teacher Honoree award along with her fellow Castaic Union School District at the Teacher Tribute at College of the Canyons on Tuesday, April 11, 2017. Katharine Lotze/The Signal

ccox@signalscv.com
661-287-5575
On Twitter as @_ChristinaCox_

About the author

Christina Cox

Christina Cox

Christina Cox is a multimedia journalist covering education, community and breaking news in the Santa Clarita Valley. She joined The Signal as a staff writer in August 2016.