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San Diego County Teachers of Year Honored, Including Language, Science, PE Instructors

EducationSan Diego County Teachers of Year Honored, Including Language, Science, PE Instructors

Teachers of the yearFrom left, Teachers of the Year Aimee McCoy, Stephanie Cluxton, Juanita Nunez, Melissa Rains and Jacqueline Ma. Photo by Terri Rippee

Five local educators representing schools in San Diego and North and South County have been named San Diego County Teachers of the Year.

Officials named the honorees Friday as part of the 32nd annual “Cox Presents: Salute to Teachers” presented in part by the San Diego County Office of Education (SDCOE).

The 2022-23 Teachers of the Year:

  • Stephanie Cluxton, Torrey Hills School, San Diego, part of Del Mar Union School District, described an educator who “strives to create a classroom environment where students take ownership of their learning, deepen their curiosity, and discover their gifts.”
  • Jacqueline Ma, Lincoln Acres Elementary, National City, National School District. She has spearheaded a schoolwide STEM improvement plan, bringing in outside organizations – including the Salk Institute, Scripps Institute of Oceanography and the San Diego Zoo – and providing opportunities for students to interact with professionals.            
  • Aimee McCoy, Mesa Verde Middle School, Poway Unified School District, who believes that allowing students to “feel valued by sharing and asking questions” is essential to the success of the whole class.
  • Juanita Nuñez, Ocean View Hills, Sunset, Smythe, Willow, and La Mirada elementary schools, San Ysidro School District. Nuñez, the daughter of farm workers, engages 370 students each week in 80-minute “Sci-Phy” classes, combining science and physical education instruction.
  • Melissa Rains, Castle Park Middle School, Chula Vista, Sweetwater Union High School District, who greets science students with a “Question of the Day” designed to gauge how they are feeling. The answers guide the first topic of conversation as class begins, and the group segues into a “mindful moment” before the first lesson. 

“The teachers we are celebrating here tonight are innovative in what they do and passionate about the students they serve,” said Dr. Paul Gothold, San Diego County superintendent of schools. “It’s an honor to be recognizing these amazing educators and individuals.”

The five Teachers of the Year will represent the county in the California Teacher of the Year program. The state winners will be announced next month.

In partnership with SDCOE, Cox will produce a one-hour television special to recognize local teachers, spotlight the Teachers of the Year, and share highlights from the reception. The show, hosted by Food Network personality and San Diego Magazine owner Troy Johnson, will air at 9 p.m. Oct. 2 on YurView Network (Cox Channel 4) and will be replayed several times in October and November.

The honorees were chosen from among 40 teachers nominated by their school districts. The winners were selected based on a review of their applications and interviews by a panel made up of former County Teachers of the Year, district and county office of education administrators, and a PTA representative.

They were chosen based on school and community involvement, teaching philosophy, knowledge of current educational issues and trends, promotion and development of the teaching profession, school culture and ability to serve as ambassadors of education.

Since 1974, 191 teachers have been named county Teachers of the Year. Of those, 23 went on to become California Teacher of the Year, and three were named National Teacher of the Year.

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