Teachers of the Year from each school were recognized and honored by the Board of Trustees at Wednesday’s public meeting (Sept. 12). Each recipient received a commemorative plaque while family, friends and co-workers watched. Then a brief reception was held in their honor at the Ed Center.
This year’s school-by-school winners are Paul Baker, Natomas Middle; Amanda Garcia, Bannon Creek; Selene Jacobs, H. Allen Hight; Nicholas Juri, Natomas High; Katie Kim, Heron; Lorrie Lewis, Two Rivers; Kristen Martin, Paso Verde; Laurelle Mathison, Discovery High; Melissa Mathews, Inderkum; Vanessa Mercado, American Lakes; Ramandeep Bains, Natomas Park; Jennifer Jones, Witter Ranch; Erin Juneau, Leroy Greene Academy; Fernando Cruz, Natomas Gateways Middle; and Stephanie Schulzkump, Jefferson’s winner and district-wide Teacher of the Year as well. The recipients were chosen last spring and not all currently work at the school listed above.
Here is how Asst. Supt. Angela Herrera introduced each winner at Wednesday’s Board meeting:
The Board of Trustees is proud to recognize the Teachers of the Year and the 2019 District Teacher of the Year. As you may know, our Board of Trustees and District is committed to ensuring that each of our staff members be committed, collaborative, caring and exemplary. We ask that staff demonstrate caring through responsive and quality customer service. Each of our Teachers of the Year share our commitments and have contributed to the growth and success of Natomas Unified and I am honored to formally introduce each of them.
This evening I will introduce each teacher who will then be presented with a plaque from the Board of Trustees and Superintendent Evans. At the end, there will be an opportunity for a group photo with the Board of Trustees. At this time, I would like to invite NTA President Brenda Borge to join me while we celebrate our teachers.
1. Paul Baker – Paul Baker was selected as Teacher of the Year at Natomas Middle School. Mr. Baker, a Social Science teacher, has worked for the District since 2014. Mr. Baker has been instrumental in leading the positive culture shift at Natomas Middle School. He not only teaches history, but he works with design and leadership as well. Overall, Mr. Baker goes above and beyond to ensure that the students of Natomas Middle School feel safe, welcomed and connected. Congratulations and thank you Mr. Baker!
2. Amanda Garcia – Amanda Garcia was selected as Teacher of the Year at Bannon Creek School. Ms. Garcia, now TK teacher at Paso Verde School, has worked for the District since 2014. Ms. Garcia is deserving of this recognition by consistently increasing her students’ academic and social achievement by promoting critical thinking through inquiry, problem solving, and reflection strategies. While at Bannon Creek, Ms. Garcia regularly planned STEM project-based learning activities and used a variety of other instructional strategies to challenge and meet her students’ diverse learning needs. Ms. Garcia does a fantastic job developing instructional plans and she remains motivated and committed to all NUSD students. Congratulations and thank you Ms. Garcia!
3. Selene Jacobs – Selene Jacobs was selected as Teacher of the Year at H. Allen Hight Elementary School. Ms. Jacobs, 2nd grade teacher, has worked for the District since 2004. Ms. Jacobs started her career as a conservation biologist, but felt the need to do more meaningful work. She is described as a quiet behind the scenes teacher who has an easy way about her with her students – building relationships with each child is a big key to her success. Ms. Jacobs is very supportive of her grade level and is all about the students and how to best meet their needs as young scholars. Congratulations and thank you Ms. Jacobs!
4. Nicholas Juri – Nicholas Juri was selected as Teacher of the Year at Natomas High School. Mr. Juri, a Social Science teacher, has worked for the District since 2016. Mr. Juri grounds his educational practice in the classroom, using creative lessons and varied instructional approaches that support all of his students in learning. He is an active force across campus that is ever optimistic and student-centered, whether guiding his students as peer mentors for the annual Field Day, leading the campus Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports Team, Mr. Juri is always willing to support connection and belonging on campus for students and staff alike. Congratulations and thank you Mr. Juri!
5. Katie Kim – Katie Kim was selected as Teacher of the Year at Heron School. Ms. Kim, a Special Day Class Teacher, has worked for the District since 2015. She is described as a team player who has exemplified the values and core beliefs of our District and because of her communication and relationship skills, she is trusted by families. She has led the inclusive practices at Heron by co-teaching in general education classrooms and working closely with general education teachers to ensure that students are receiving the tools they need to be successful in the classroom. She never gives up on any student, and she is the first one to celebrate every step of success along the way. Congratulations and thank you Ms. Kim!
6. Lorrie Lewis – Lorrie Lewis was selected as Teacher of the Year at Two Rivers Elementary School. Ms. Lewis, a 3rd grade teacher, has worked for the District since 2002. Ms. Lewis is described as a teacher who has transformed her third grade team into one that is focused on student achievement, is data driven, and is collaborative around student work and instructional practices. In Ms. Lewis’ classroom, students take ownership of the classroom and their learning, and challenge each other to deeper levels of knowledge. Congratulations and thank you Ms. Lewis!
7. Kristen Martin – Kristen Martin was selected as Teacher of the Year at Paso Verde School. Ms. Martin, a TK teacher, has worked for the District since 2006. Ms, Martin is described as a teacher of all students as well as a teacher of teachers. She has dedicated herself to the growth and excellence of not only her students but the students throughout the school. She is innovative in bringing IB and STEAM frameworks into her classroom and has built and expanded the very culture that Paso Verde School is built on. Congratulations and thank you Ms. Martin!
8. Laurelle Mathison – Laurelle Mathison was selected as Teacher of the Year at Discovery High School. Ms. Mathison, a Counselor, has worked for the District since 2016. She is described as someone who embodies Discovery High School’s mantra of “heal, hope and inspire” when it comes to supporting students. In addition, she has been a valuable partner in bringing the Discovery/American River College program to fruition and has designed a program to meet with each 11th grade student to review their graduation plan and conduct an interest survey to best inform her on her guidance program for each student during their senior year. Congratulations and thank you Ms. Mathison!
9. Melissa Mathews – Melissa Mathews was selected as Teacher of the Year at Inderkum High School. Ms. Mathews, English Teacher, has worked for the District since 2005. Ms. Mathews embodies the Inderkum High School culture in every way. As a teacher, senior project coordinator, class advisor and WASC facilitator, Ms. Mathews guides both students and staff alike and has earned this honor for her hard work both in and out of the classroom. According to collegues, this honor is long awaited for Ms. Mathews. Congratulations and thank you Ms. Mathews!
10. Vanessa Mercado – Vanessa Mercado was selected as Teacher of the Year at American Lakes School. Ms. Mercado, Resource Specialist Teacher, has worked for the District since 2016. Over the course of the 17-18 school year, Ms. Mercado demonstrated her competency, compassion, reliability and dedication to improving the educational outcomes for all students, not just her students. Ms. Mercado understands the needs of the American Lakes community and meets them with understanding and compassion. As a result, she has established herself as a leader on campus and has built a positive rapport with students, staff and the community. Congratulations and thank you Ms. Mercado!
11. Ramandeep Bains – Ramandeep Bains was selected as Teacher of the Year at Natomas Park Elementary School. Ms. Bains, who was unable to attend this evening, is a Kindergarten teacher that has worked for the District since 2002. Ms. Bains is described as a very comprised teacher with a commitment to giving her students a strong foundation to last a lifetime. She encourages all of her students to succeed through the journey that is named kindergarten and motivates them to continue having goals for the rest of their education. Congratulations and thank you Ms. Bains!
12. Jennifer Jones – Jennifer Jones was selected as Teacher of the Year at Witter Ranch Elementary School. Ms. Jones, who was unable to attend this evening, is a Kindergarten teacher and has worked for the District since 2004 . Mrs. Jones is described as a teacher that is patient, creative, flexible, respectful, and passionate; in fact, the passion she has for teaching is contagious. When it comes to school climate, Mrs. Jones is an important part of the Witter Ranch team and her efforts produce positive changes to the school. Congratulations and thank you Ms. Jones!
13. Erin Juneau – Erin Juneau was selected as Teacher of the Year at Leroy Greene Academy. Ms. Juneau, who was unable to attend this evening, is an Art Teacher and has worked for the District since 2016. Ms. Juneau is described as a teacher who not only takes into account all the individual learning styles of each of her students and finds way to have them achieve academically, but also builds trusting and lasting relationships that are meaningful. She welcomes everyone into her creative world and students leave with a better understanding of how their artistic process will make the world a better place. Congratulations and thank you Ms. Juneau!
14. Fernando Cruz – Fernando Cruz was selected as Teacher of the Year at Natomas Gateways Middle School. Mr. Cruz, Math teacher, recently accepted a promotional opportunity in another District. We wish Mr. Cruz well in his new position and thank him for his 10 years of service and commitment to Natomas Unified students.
15. Stephanie Schulzkump – I am extremely proud to introduce Stephanie Schulzkump as our District Teacher of the Year. Ms. Schulzkump was selected as Teacher of the Year at Jefferson School. Ms. Schulzkump, now a Teacher on Special Assignment, has worked for the District since 2014. Ms. Schulzkump has tremendous initiative, a desire to continue to learn, a reflective practitioner outlook and knows how to work hard with a positive attitude each day. This promotes that positive learning environment and motivates students and others to do their best. She is an active participant in many focus groups within the district and is not only dedicated to her students, but the entire Natomas community. Ms. Schulzkump lives and breathes excitement and the desire to continue to learn. In Ms. Schulzkump’s current role as a Teacher on Special Assignment, she is working with outside partners to create a network for future teachers, making sure interns have a support network and is focusing on new teacher development. Congratulations and thank you Ms. Schulzkump!