Erin Oxhorn-Gilpin honored at annual Teacher of the Year gala

From left to right, California Teachers of the Year Kristen Farrell, Jamie Brown, Gregory Gardiner, Erin Oxhorn-Gilpin and Brian McDaniel at the 2018 Teacher of the Year gala held in Sacramento on Monday, Feb. 12, 2017. Courtesy Photo

California Teacher of the Year and Northlake Hills Elementary School teacher Erin Oxhorn-Gilpin traveled to Sacramento this week to celebrate her recognition and discuss education policy with her fellow Teachers of the Year.

At the annual Teacher of the Year gala, Oxhorn-Gilpin and her four fellow Teacher of the Year honorees interacted with the public, shared their passion for education and discussed their own successes in the classroom.

It also was a time for Oxhorn-Gilpin celebrate her own nomination with Castaic Union School District Superintendent Steve Doyle, Northlake Hills Elementary School Principal Erin Augusta, her family and her in-laws.

“Every February, they hold a gala to introduce the Teachers of the Year to the general public and we have some professional development time and we give speeches and share what we’re passionate about and what our platform is,” Oxhorn-Gilpin said. “My message with my new role is focusing on sharing with our students that we’re passionate about education, and sharing with teachers that we get to do this job and to not take it for granted.”

Erin Oxhorn-Gilpin hugs her past student, nine-year-old Harmony Winslow, after she gives Gilpin flowers at the Castaic Union School District Board of Trustees meeting in Valencia on Thursday, Nov. 9. 2017. Gilpin was honored for being the 2018 California Teacher of the Year during the meeting. Nikolas Samuels/The Signal

Since she was named a California Teacher of the Year in October, Oxhorn-Gilpin has made the focus of her recognition about her fellow teachers, her school community, her support system and, most importantly, her students, she said.

The first- and second-grade multisubject teacher hopes her passion for education inspires her colleagues to also reinvigorate their love for the teaching profession.

“Teachers get so overwhelmed with new standards and new curriculum and everything that keeps getting thrown at teachers,” Oxhorn-Gilpin said.  “I want them to really see the glass half-full instead of half-empty and focus on the fact that we get to do this job and the impact we have on our students.”

Northlake Hills Elementary students shower Erin Oxhorn-Gilpin in confetti at her schoolwide celebration on Thursday, Oct. 12, 2017. Ryan Painter/The Signal

In addition to sharing her own story, Oxhorn-Gilpin had the chance to hear from other education leaders from across the state.

“I wish every teacher had this opportunity to be a part of it because it’s so inspiring to hear other teachers’ experiences and the programs they’re creating in schools and the difference they’re making,” she said.  “Now that I’m a part of this world, the opportunity for professional development and collaboration with other teachers is amazing.  I feel like you need to pinch me, I can’t imagine that I’m a part of this.”

As a Teacher of the Year, Oxhorn-Gilpin is asked to attend events throughout the state to recognize California Distinguished Schools, to speak at district and school events, and to participate in educational panels at places like Stanford University.

“I love being able to have that voice for elementary school teachers.  A lot of the time when you talk about Teacher of the Year, a lot of them are secondary teachers,” Oxhorn-Gilpin said.  “I’m honored to have that voice for elementary school teachers and students… It’s such an honor to represent so many.”

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