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Teacher of the Year

Teachers of the Year Dinner Celebration
Thursday, September 22, 2016

RSVP early to guarantee seating Reservation and payment deadline: Tuesday, September 13th

For more information and to register online, click on the button below, or visit:

Eventbrite - Teachers of the Year Dinner Celebration

For registration questions, please contact or call (925) 942-3325

Quick Links

2016-2017 Contra Costa County
District Teacher of the Year Representatives

2016-2017 County Teacher of the Year Finalists

Shauna Hawes

Shauna Hawes
Mt. Diablo Unified SD
Valley View Middle

Gina Minder-Maldonado

Gina Minder-Maldonado
Oakley Union Elementary SD
Oakley Elementary

Summer Rodriguez

Summer Rodriguez
Liberty Union High SD
Liberty High

Joyce Rooks

Joyce Rooks
San Ramon Valley
Unified SD
Creekside Elementary

Jamie Cackler Bennetts

Jamie Cackler Bennetts
Knightsen Elementary SD
Knightsen Elementary

Cynthia Boyko

Cynthia Boyko
Acalanes Union High SD
Miramonte High

Rachael Byron

Rachael Byron
San Ramon Valley
Unified SD
Dougherty Valley High

Krystal Figaroa

Krystal Figaroa
Pittsburg Unified SD
Stoneman Elementary

Erin Flanigan

Erin Flanigan
Martinez Unified SD
Alhambra High

Daniel Yoshio Haley

Daniel Yoshio Haley
Mt. Diablo Unified SD
El Dorado Middle

Judy Jernigan

Judy Jernigan
Lafayette SD
Lafayette SD Schools

Kristyn Loy

Kristyn Loy
West Contra Costa
Unified SD
Stewart Elementary

Judy Mazur

Judy Mazur
Walnut Creek SD
Buena Vista Elementary

Vicki McGuire

Vicki McGuire
Antioch Unified SD
Sutter Elementary

Aminta Mickles

Aminta Mickles
Contra Costa Community College District
Contra Costa College

Dayle Okamitsu

Dayle Okamitsu
Orinda Union SD
Wagner Ranch Elementary

Lawrence Pang

Lawrence Pang
West Contra Costa
Unified SD
El Cerrito High

Deborah Guillén Rocchild

Deborah Guillén Rocchild
John Swett Unified SD
John Swett High

Juliet Simens

Juliet Simens
Brentwood Union SD
Pioneer Elementary

Angela Taylor

Angela Taylor
Parole Education


Sarah Vieira

Sarah Vieira
Byron Union SD
Timber Point Elementary

2016-2017 County District Teachers of the Year

Note regarding eligible participants:

  • Seventeen of the eighteen Contra Costa County school districts represented (plus the CCCOE) are participating in this year’s TOY program.
  • Each year, one instructor from Contra Costa Community College District is submitted to the TOY program for his/her outstanding body of work with their designated college. The colleges rotate each year between Diablo Valley, Los Medanos, and Contra Costa. This year, it is Los Medanos College's turn. (These instructors do not compete in the State Teacher of the Year competition.)
  • Due to the larger number of students in their districts, West Contra Costa USD, Mt. Diablo USD, and San Ramon Valley USD are allowed to select two TOY candidates.

2015 Teacher of the Year Awards Dinner VideoyouTube logo

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2015-16 Teacher of the Year Selection Committee

Damian Alacon, Travis Credit Union

Hon. Steve Austin, Contra Costa County Superior Court

Evelyn Bachelor, Brandman University

Tom Barnidge, Contra Costa Newspapers, Inc.

Daniel Cabral, Contra Costa Co. District Attorney's Office

Fire Chief Jeff Carmen, Contra Costa County
Fire Protection District

Pete Crooks, Diablo magazine

Hilary Dito, Contra Costa County Office of Education

Luke Ellis, G.J.E.L. Accident Attorneys

Hon. Jill Fannin, Contra Costa County Superior Court

Karl Fischer, Contra Costa Health Services

Lori Herington, Comcast

Mary Knox, Contra Costa County District Attorney's Office


Robin Lipetzky, Contra Costa Co. Office of the Public Defender

Aimee Lohr, Philips 66

Maria McCullough, Pittsburg Unified School District (ret.)

Dr. Diane Mukerjee, California State University, East Bay

Dr. Heidi Rambo, St. Mary's College

Nicole Rigg, Chevron USA, Inc.

Vera Rowsey, West Contra Costa Retired Teachers' Assoc.

Matthew Schuler , Contra Costa Co. Office of the Sheriff

Marsha Tokuyoshi, Contra Costa Co. Office of Education

Nancy Vandel, 32nd PTA

Michael Wasilchin, West Contra Costa Unified School District

Erica Williams, Contra Costa Co. Schools Insurance Group

Susan Yamashita, Lafayette School District (ret)

About the Teacher of the Year Program

In 1972, California began recognizing outstanding teachers, establishing the Teachers of the Year Program. This program is open to all teachers in public & private schools who teacher pre-kindergarten through twelfth grade. Contra Costa County has participated in the program since its beginning, when Joseph E. Davis, Jr., of the Acalanes Union High School District, was named the county's first representative.

Since that time, four teachers from this county have been State finalists: Janet Neill, San Ramon Valley Unified (1975); David Eakin, John Swett Unified (1981); William Thomas, Mt. Diablo Unified (1982); and Janice Bergamini, Mt. Diablo Unified (1991). In addition, William Pence, San Ramon Valley Unified (1999), was selected to represent California at the National Teacher of the Year level. And, in the last two years, the County has had two other state representatives – Mary Allan, Antioch Unified (2001) and Janet Gower, Mt. Diablo Unified (2002). For a list of all of the Contra Costa County Teacher of the Year Representatives please click here.

The county's TOY program is directed by the CCCOE. With such a high caliber of teaching professionals to draw from, the CCCOE’s TOY program uses a three-stage selection process, with a point and percentage system to determine the final candidate as follows:

I Application Screening:

On March 20, a committee of 13, representing the county’s education, business, and public-sector partners meticulously reviewed the applications submitted by the school districts. This committee independently rated each application. After the application screening and scoring were completed, five teachers were selected to advance to the next phase as semifinalists.

II Classroom Observation and Interview:

During the weeks of late April and early May, a small committee of education specialists and business partners will observe the semifinalists interacting with their students. Immediately following, the committee interviews the candidates, discussing topics such as their teaching philosophy and techniques. The results of the two screening processes are then combined to determine the four finalists.

III Speech Presentation:

This coming August, the four TOY finalists will each give a three- to five-minute speech to another panel of a dozen educators, business, and public-sector representatives who will judge the finalists on their speech and presentation skills.

On the evening of September 24, 2015, all 22 TOYs, accompanied by their families, friends, and co-workers (an audience of approximately 400) will be honored at the annual Teacher of the Year Dinner Celebration, held at the Hilton Concord. Contra Costa County Superintendent of Schools Karen Sakata, who serves as master of ceremonies, introduces the TOYs by sharing a special story that reflects his classroom visits of each teacher during the recent spring and summer months. This will be followed by the four finalists giving their three- to five-minute speeches (same speeches given in August) to the filled banquet room. The excitement-filled evening will come to a dramatic close with the announcement of the 2015-2016 Contra Costa County Teacher of the Year.

The County representative is announced at the Awards Dinner in September at a gala affair that honors each district's Teacher of the Year. Local business and community organizations generously donate classroom grants, services and other items to each of the district winners.

Learn more about donating to the Teacher of the Year program.

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Honor Our Teachers: Donate to the Teachers of the Year Program

There are four major categories or levels for donating to the TOY Program:

  1. Visionaries: $5,000 to $10,000 range
  2. Benefactors: $1,000 to $4,999 range
  3. Sponsors: $500 to $999 range
  4. Contributors: $499 or below in amount or services

Most sponsors earmark their grants for the teachers' classrooms or schools; Contra Costa Newspapers, Inc. sponsors the dinner itself, and the cost of dinner for each of the Teachers of the Year and three of their guests.

For more information, or to donate to the Program, please e-mail Jonathan Lance at

Many thanks to our generous 2015–16 donors who made our program a success!

Chevron, Title Sponsor



Contra Costa County Office of Education

Contra Costa Newspapers, Inc.

Dean and Margaret Lesher Foundation

Saint Mary's College of California,
Kalmanovitz School of Education



Allegro Copy and Print

C. Overaa and Company

Center REP/Dean Lesher Regional Center for the Arts

Contra Costa County Special Districts Association

Fagen, Friedman and Fulfrost, LLP

Gillin Jacobson, Ellis, Larsen and Lucey
Accient Attorneys

The Oakland A's

Phillips 66

Pleasant Hill Rotary Foundation

Travis Credit Union

USS POSCO Industries


ACSA Region 6

Broadway Plaza Shopping Center

Cole Supply Company, Inc.

Contra Costa Federal Credit Union

Dannis, Woliver and Kelley Attorneys at Law

Denalect Alarm

Keenan & Associates

Mechanics Bank

O'Conner, Runkle, & O'Malley, LLP

Office Depot

Gary Sloan and Barbara Komas

Susan Stuart/Capitol Advisors



Brandman University

Hein Lighting & Electric, Inc.

Hilton Concord

Mike & Shari Maxwell

Pleasant Hill Florist

Trinity Media, Inc.

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Teacher of the Year Contact
Communications Specialist/Teacher of the Year/Media Relations 925.942.3429
FAX, Communications   925.942.3454

Page updated on: August 15, 2016

Rev: 0.4-010514-BETA4