With piles of confetti, flowers, hugs and cheers, Northlake Hills Elementary celebrated the success of first and second grade teacher Erin Oxhorn-Gilpin Thursday morning after she was named a 2018 California State Teacher of the Year.
“I wanted to congratulate Mrs. Oxhorn-Gilpin on becoming the California State Teacher of the Year, it is such a big accomplishment,” said Suzanne Graff, a second grade teacher at Live Oak Elementary and president of the Castaic Teachers Association. “We’re thrilled and so proud of you.”
On Wednesday, Oxhorn-Gilpin was one of five teachers selected by the California Department of Education and State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson to represent the state of California as a 2018 Teacher of the Year.
“There are 300,000 teachers in the state of California and Mrs. Oxhorn is one of the top teachers in the whole entire state,” Principal Erin Augusta said. “What I love is the state recognized what an awesome teacher she is. We are super proud of you.”
During the school-wide celebration, colleagues and friends were moved to tears as they reveled in the success of one of their own.
“As a co-worker Erin truly, truly exemplifies what a teacher is and why the kids love coming to school,” fellow Northlake Hills Elementary Teacher Jennifer Flores said. “I’m constantly learning from her. It’s such a pleasure to work with her and she truly is a blessing to this school and a blessing to her students.”
Janene Maxon, the district’s Assistant Superintendent of Educational Services, presented Oxhorn-Gilpin with a bright yellow, smiley face balloon which she said represented the spirit of Oxhorn-Gilpin.
“I found this balloon and it totally exemplifies Mrs. Oxhorn,” Maxon said. “In even some of the most difficult struggles or challenges you will always see a smile on her face because she knows what she does makes a difference.”
Former students also celebrated Oxhorn-Gilpin, whose creativity and hands-on lessons made learning the basics of reading and writing fun.
“She changed by view of learning Whenever I was in her classroom I wanted to learn something, I wanted to know something new and she made that fun. She made a great year out of learning,” fifth grade student Michael Schubert said. “I think she won this award not just because she is an amazing teacher, but she gets students excited to learn and they stay excited to learn throughout all their years of school.”
Oxhorn-Gilpin credited her own success to the support she received from “her village” that included district personnel, the CUSD Governing Board, Northlake Hills Elementary staff, her fellow teachers, Mrs. Augusta, her family and her students.
“Being teacher of the year means I get to talk a lot about being a teacher and what makes my heart happy as a teacher,” she said. “When I talk about teaching and what it means to me and what I say is to be a teacher, and to be a good teacher, you need a strong village to support you.”
The Teacher of the Year was also happy that her recognition also put the Castaic District, and Northlake Hills Elementary, on the map.
“There’s about 6,000 schools in California that are elementary schools and there is one elementary school today that gets to celebrate and it’s us,” Oxhorn-Gilpin said. “Today our little dot on the map as Castaic grew really big.”
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