Across the Santa Clarita Valley, there are 54 public schools with 2,200 teachers and more than 50,000 students. The SCV’s public schools regularly rank among the top 10% in California.
To celebrate and honor the ones responsible for raising the next generation, the SCV Education Foundation held its 39th annual teacher tribute, themed “Academy of the Stars,” on Friday.
“The board of trustees, myself and the entire staff want to thank all of our teachers for being recognized this evening for the hard work and dedication that they exhibit every day for our children and their families,” said Catherine Kawaguchi, Sulphur Springs Union School District superintendent. “When thinking about teachers, we need to remember that they shape the minds of children and a teacher is like a compass that activates magnets of curiosity, knowledge and wisdom in our students. Thank you, teachers, for being role models and for making huge differences in the lives of our children every day.”
Fifty-four honorees were selected across the five school districts.
The selection process for the honorees varies from district to district.
Honorees were selected exhibiting the following attributes: Demonstrates leadership and a commitment to grow professionally and assist others to grow, inspires students and other teachers to achieve excellence, exemplary professionalism, creates and maintains effective environments for student learning, engages and supports all students in learning and has a passion to help all children.
Leading the ceremonies was Carrie Lujan, communications manager for the city of Santa Clarita.
“Tonight’s teacher tribute will recognize the truly exemplary work that each of you do, every day, to help shape the lives and grow the minds of future generations,” said Lujan.
Lujan presented superintendent honors to Bob Brauneisen (Castaic Union School District), Leticia Hernandez (Newhall School District), Kawaguchi (Sulphur Springs), Colleen Hawkins (Saugus Union School District) and Mike Kuhlman (William S. Hart Union High School District).
“Our jobs are not easy, but they are the most rewarding jobs that anybody could ever do,” said Hawkins. “Because we’re not only touching the future, but we’re actually making where we’re going to retire a pretty cool place to be, because that world that we’re creating right now is going to be awesome.”
The following teachers were honorees for the Castaic district: Dakota Barnes, Kate Boron, Mary Edison and Deborah Rupel.
The following teachers were honorees for the Newhall district: Holly Johnson, Lisa Johnson, Danielle Kline, Jennifer Lopez, Melissa Mercy, Leanne Mohr, Danielle Roth, Michelle Vasquez, Debbie Walsh and Melinda Zook.
The following teachers were honorees for the Sulphur Springs district: Susan Adachi, Tracy Ahart, Jada Dunn, Mary Giacoletto, Debbie Gilkey, Sheri Hanks, Anne Marie McKinley, Penny McRea and Kris Rightmyer.
The following teachers were honorees for the Saugus district: Megan Bean, Christine Denny, Shelley Dolder, Jennifer Ejinduaka, Kimberly Harada, Caitlin Hatchitt, Jacqueline Hines, Christine Ivey, Lisa Jensen, Liz Ketterl, Heather Michelson, Elizabeth Mills, Jessica Smith, Christine Walston and Erin Wiseman.
The following teachers were honorees for the Hart district: Paula Bae, Megan Botton, Heather Cruz, Dennis “Scott” Davidson, Laura Erickson, Ian Harper, Danielle Lahey, Desirée Love, Ryanne Meschkat, Traci O’Connell, Mikael Ohlsen, Laura Schultz, Michele Siner, Katrina Skaar, Angela Welch and David Williams.
As each honoree was presented, anecdotes about their teaching and career were shared.
From stories about twinning with students to putting on annual productions, each story showed how every teacher has a unique approach to teaching.
“We see you,” said Hernandez.
High school seniors with plans to be future educators were also recognized as being recipients of the Backer Family scholarship and SCV Education Foundation scholarship.