County Superintendent of Schools, Dr. Judy D. White travelled the highways and byways of Riverside County to surprise four teachers with news they had each been selected as 2020 Riverside County Teacher of the Year. Included among the honorees were kindergarten teacher Brenda Barreras from Palms Elementary in the Perris Elementary School District; 4th grade teacher Tracy Waters from Starlight Elementary in the Beaumont Unified School District; Jodi Fecera, a family and consumer sciences teacher at Palm Desert Charter Middle School in the Desert Sands Unified School District; and digital media career and technical education teacher Tom Buck at Indio High School, also part of the Desert Sands Unified School District.
Each year the Riverside County Superintendent of Schools selects Teachers of the Year from about 20,000 in the county. Candidates are selected based on nominations by teachers, principals, and school district administrators throughout the county following a demanding application process which requires reflection and careful definition of their specific teaching philosophy. The applications are next submitted to the Riverside County Office of Education, where an outside selection committee determines the semi-finalists. Semi-finalists are interviewed and subjected to classroom visits before the finalist are selected, notified and announced by the Superintendent of Schools.
Barreras, Waters, Fecera and Buck will be honored at the Riverside County Office of Education’s annual Celebrating Educators luncheon next March. They will also represent Riverside County in the 2020 California Teacher of the Year (TOY) competition. TOY is sponsored by the California Department of Education, the California Teacher of the Year Foundation, and California Casualty, to honor the profession chosen by over 300,000 people in the state and to heighten interest in teaching as a career. The program brings attention to teachers who successfully employ strategies to increase academic success and narrow the achievement gap among a range of students while also preparing them for twenty-first century college and careers.
According to the California Department of Education, TOYs are frequently called upon to deliver brief, inspirational messages and serve as ambassadors for the teaching profession. Considering the state’s persistent teacher shortage, the role teachers play in shaping the future of California has assumed an added measure of importance. By sharing their experiences and success, the hope is they can help elevate public opinion of the teaching profession and perhaps inspire more people to become teachers.
Header Photo: Jodi Fecera (center), a family and consumer sciences teacher at Palm Desert Charter Middle School, is named a 2020 Riverside County Teacher of the Year during a surprise visit from Dr. Judy D. White, Riverside County Superintendent of Schools.