In a night filled with tributes to educators and the emcee making a grand entrance dressed as the Queen of England, the SCV Education Foundation hosted the 35th annual Teacher Tribute Tuesday.
This year’s event, at The Canyon at the Westfield Valencia Town Center, honored 53 teachers representing the 53 schools across five local school districts – who have shown “outstanding service and contribution in the classroom.”
“This is basically the Oscars of K-12,” said Renee Marshall, an SCV Education Foundation member. “We’re one of the only communities across the nation that does this to this extent. It’s really common that you might celebrate at a school level or at a district level, but to bring five districts together that serve over 55,000 students and to honor all the teachers makes for a really exciting night.”
Over the course of the evening, a rock n’ roll band made up purely of teachers from the districts performed, tote bags filled with gift cards totaling $300 were distributed and the master of ceremonies Dave Caldwell, who is also the public relations officer for the William S. Hart Union High School District, entered the building dressed as Queen Elizabeth in the spirit of the evening’s theme of “Royalty.”
“Every teacher (of the year) is here, and they’re our royalty,” said Marshall. “Every single school site determines who their teacher of the year is for the school. And then what happens is then you compete against each other district-wide and you have teachers of the year for the district. And every once in a while our teachers of the year get on to compete at the county level and the state level.”
The teacher honorees, plus every principal, assistant superintendents, superintendents and Santa Clarita leadership were present during the event, making it the “who’s who of Santa Clarita Education,” Marshall said.
In addition to having drinks visiting with their colleagues, the 2019 teacher honorees — who had been recognized earlier in the year by their peers, and later celebrated by their districts’ respective boards — were brought on stage by their districts’ superintendents and then presented with a medal.
“This is not just my career, it’s my life. I love teaching, working with children and so to be recognized for all my hard work means the world to me,” said Bonnie Russon, a Fair Oaks Ranch 5th grade teacher, who added she has been teaching for 12 years, but this was her first teacher tribute nomination. “For me, it’s a dream come true.”
“Teachers spend countless hours, huge amounts of money on our classrooms,” said Marshall. “And to take a minute and say, ‘You’re stellar and thank you for contributing to our community,’ is what this night gives us an opportunity to do.”