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2018 Alameda County Teacher of the Year Awards October 4, 2018

This is one of my favorite events of the year, the opportunity to honor and celebrate the heroes who work in our classrooms every day.

As the daughter of a teacher, and as someone who spent the early years of my career in the classroom, I know well the work, the commitment, the dedication required. It is why we admire our teachers so much. We know how much they give, and how much we all gain by their remarkable efforts on behalf of students.

These outstanding educators are role models, not only for the children they teach, but for their colleagues, their communities and for all of us.

Our theme for 2018 is “Together We Rise” because we know it takes many hands and hearts to set our children up for success in this dynamic, fast-changing world. But no one is more impactful than the teacher in the classroom, who spends day after day inspiring, motivating and modeling the benefits of lifelong learning.

The 19 examples of educational excellence you will see in this presentation are rays of light. Celebrating them is our honor. Thank you for being a part of it.

Opening Reception

Staff Volunteers from the Alameda County Office of Education

The Program

Wells Middle School Jazz Band, Dublin Unified School District
Alameda County Superintendent of Schools L. Karen Monroe
Parvin Ahmadi, Superintendent, Castro Valley Unified School District
Micaela Morse, kindergarten teacher at International Community School (Oakland USD), has more than a decade of experience teaching, and is currently leading a dual language classroom program which she was instrumental in developing and implementing. Ms. Morse also piloted a family literacy program with Raising a Reader to increase family access to literature and support child bonding.
Elizabeth Perez, a 1st grade teacher at Arroyo Seco Elementary (Livermore Valley Joint USD), has been an educator for 15 years. She teaches all subject areas – including reading, writing, mathematics, science, social studies, and physical education, as well as extracurricular subjects such as art and music. Mrs. Perez started her school’s makerspace and has secured several grants to add resources to the lab.
Catherine Brown has been a first-grade teacher at Frederiksen Elementary School (Dublin USD) for 13 years and an educator for 28 years. She places a great deal of focus on building community in her classroom - teaching empathy, independence and accountability through “Capturing Kids’ Hearts” strategies. Mrs. Brown’s goal is to help each student shine and make them feel heard.
Cassandra Chen has been a math and science teacher at United for Success Academy (Oakland USD) for more than a decade. Ms. Chen’s vision for education includes but expands beyond preparation for and access to college – she wants her students to recognize their own agency and feel empowered to have an impact on their community and the world.
Tiffany Johnson has been an educator for more than 13 years. She began her career teaching 4th, 5th, and 6th grade at Tyrrell Elementary School in Hayward, before moving into her current role at Anna Yates Elementary School in Emeryville (Emery USD).
Ann Villegas has been a teacher for 16 years following her experiences as a foster parent, which inspired her to promote educational attainment for all children. She drove efforts to bring transitional kindergarten to Hillside Elementary School (San Lorenzo USD), and was part of the team that developed the instructional program.
First grade teacher Arlene Simpelo has been an educator for more than 26 years. As a Google Certified Innovator, she helped bring computer science to her school, Lydiksen Elementary (Pleasanton USD) and will help lead a district-wide program next year. Ms. Simpelo was selected to be a pilot teacher for a 21st century classroom space which will set the standard for all new classrooms in the district.
Barbara Andersen has been leading the German program at Castro Valley High School (Castro Valley USD) for more than 15 years. Mrs. Andersen encourages her classes to get involved in the Bay Area’s German community to enhance their classroom learning. Over the last 10 years, her students have completed more than 2,500 hours of volunteer service for the community.
Dr. Dhana Uppula teaches 11th & 12th grade Medical Occupations at James Logan High School (Mission Valley ROP). She has been a health and medical instructor for 14 years and has developed curricula for health professions including courses in premedical nursing, anatomy and physiology, and EKG. Every year, Dr. Uppula places students in medical externships, and she’s focused on helping her students achieve their career goals.
Michelle Stephens teaches 10th - 12th grade Marketing and Business at Castro Valley High School (Eden Area ROP). She has been an educator for more than 16 years. Mrs. Stephens focuses on helping students understand how marketing works and how to market themselves in the world. She views her job as facilitating an environment for student learning with a focus on the bigger picture and how to make a difference.
Timothy Hess has been an educator for Newark USD for more than 30 years. Mr. Hess has taught health, physical education, and biology, and has coached the wrestling and football teams at Newark Memorial High School (Newark USD).
Jah-Yee Woo has been an educator for 18 years and currently teaches 11th grade English and history at Oakland Technical High School (Oakland USD). Ms. Woo was inspired to enter the teaching profession by her mother, who taught elementary school, and by the visionary teacher-leaders she worked with during her time in AmeriCorps.
Albany High School Choir, Albany Unified School District
George Hoss has been teaching for the Alameda County Office of Education for 22 years. During the spring and summer of 2017, Mr. Hoss served as acting principal and lead teacher at Butler Academic Center. He enjoys helping fellow teachers, paraprofessionals, and school partners brainstorm solutions to a variety of school issues.
Wells Middle School Jazz Band, Dublin USD
Kyle Howard has been an AP English Literature instructor at Hayward High School (Hayward USD) since 2014. He enjoys presenting material to students in ways that allow them to see themselves in the lesson -- and discover new things about themselves and the world. From a young age, Mr. Howard had his heart set on becoming a teacher, and he often provides extra support to students who need it during lunch and after school.
Mary Otieku (left) has been an educator for more than two decades. She currently teaches a grade 4/5 combination class at Bay Farm Elementary (Alameda USD), where she not only teaches multiple subjects, but also helps her students understand how they learn best. Mrs. Otieku believes that teaching is not a scripted profession - she constantly shifts her approach to meet the unique needs of each student.
Sherea Westra teaches 3rd & 4th graders at Niles Elementary School (Fremont USD) and has been a teacher for 19 years. Since 2015, Ms. Westra has helped establish Professional Learning Communities (PLC) at 42 school sites across her district. As she returned to the classroom this year, Mrs. Westra participated in her own PLC with her partner teacher, resulting in increased academic achievement for her students.
Legratta Banks has been a science educator for 27 years and currently teaches TK-5th grade Science at Tom Kitayama Elementary (New Haven USD). Mrs. Banks pioneered a cutting-edge science curriculum for her students, introducing her classroom to coding, robotics, and Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) lessons. She also hosts an annual science fair each spring, showcasing her students’ abilities as scientists and researchers.
Kelly Mogilefsky is the founding teacher of Tri-Valley ROP’s Middle College Program at Las Positas College. She has been instrumental in building a culture of success in the program by providing strong instructional practices in the high school English courses with a focus on academic literacy and college and career readiness.
Joanna Chapman has been an educator for 13 years. She spent her first five years teaching 3rd grade prior to moving into special education at McKinley Elementary School in San Leandro (San Leandro USD). Mrs. Chapman feels that working with students in special education is incredibly rewarding, and she is dedicated to making sure every student feels safe and excited about coming to school.
Board Trustee Joaquin Rivera announcing the county winners.

Fremont and Oakland Educators Named County Teachers of the Year

(Left to Right) Alameda County Superintendent of Schools L. Karen Monroe; Alameda County Board of Education Vice President Joaquin Rivera; Alameda County Teacher of the Year Jah-Yee Woo, Oakland USD; Alameda County Teacher of the Year Sherea Westra, Fremont USD; and Alameda County Board of Education Trustee Aisha Knowles.
County honorees and administrators.
Area 1 (Trustee Joaquín Rivera) — (L-R) Alameda County Superintendent of Schools L. Karen Monroe; Teacher Jah-Yee Woo, Oakland Technical High School, Oakland USD; Teacher Tiffany Johnson, Anna Yates Elementary School, Emery USD; Board of Education Vice President Joaquín Rivera
Area 2 (Trustee Amber Childress) — (L-R) Alameda County Superintendent of Schools L. Karen Monroe; Teacher Mary Otieku, Bay Farm Elementary School, Alameda USD; Teacher Micaela Morse, International Community School, Oakland USD; Board of Education Vice President Joaquín Rivera
Area 3 (Trustee Ken Berrick) — (L-R) Alameda County Superintendent of Schools L. Karen Monroe; Teacher Cassandra Chen, United for Success Academy, Oakland USD; Board of Education Vice President Joaquín Rivera
Area 4 (Trustee Aisha Knowles) — (L-R) Alameda County Superintendent of Schools L. Karen Monroe; Teacher Ann Villegas, Hillside Elementary School, San Lorenzo USD; Teacher Barbara Andersen, Castro Valley High School, Castro Valley USD; Teacher Michelle Stephens, Castro Valley High School, Castro Valley USD; Board of Education Trustee Aisha Knowles; Board of Education Vice President Joaquín Rivera
Area 5 (Trustee Fred Sims) — (L-R) Alameda County Superintendent of Schools L. Karen Monroe; Teacher Dhana Uppula, James Logan High School, Mission Valley ROP; Teacher Kyle Howard, Hayward High School, Hayward USD; Teacher Legratta Banks, Tom Kitayama Elementary School, New Haven USD; Board of Education Vice President Joaquín Rivera
Area 6 (Trustee Eileen McDonald) — (L-R) Alameda County Superintendent of Schools L. Karen Monroe; Teacher Sherea Westra, Niles Elementary School, Fremont USD; Teacher Timothy Hess, Newark Memorial High School, Newark USD; Board of Education Vice President Joaquín Rivera
Area 7 (Trustee Yvonne Cerrato) — (L-R) Alameda County Superintendent of Schools L. Karen Monroe; Teacher George Hoss, Butler Academic Center, Alameda COE; Teacher Kelly Mogilefsky, Las Positas College, Tri-Valley ROP; Teacher Elizabeth Perez, Arroyo Seco Elementary School, Livermore Valley Joint USD; Teacher Catherine Brown, Frederiksen Elementary School, Dublin USD; Teacher Arlene Simpelo, Lydiksen Elementary School, Pleasanton USD; Board of Education Vice President Joaquín Rivera
Alameda County Teachers of the Year 2018

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Photos © Alameda County Office of Education

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