Contra Costa educators honored at the annual Teacher of the Year Dinner Gala

Contra Costa educators honored at the annual Teacher of the Year Dinner Gala
Posted on 10/02/2018

Two Mt. Diablo Valley Unified School District teachers earn top county honors 

TOY Group Picture

CONCORD, Calif., September 28, 2018 ­–
Last night’s annual Contra Costa County Teachers of the Year (TOY) Dinner Gala was filled with radiant inspiration, as 22 deserving county school district teachers were honored in front of a crowd of more than 400 attendees at the Hilton Concord. Contra Costa County Superintendent of Schools Karen Sakata concluded the festivities by announcing that Mt. Diablo Unified School District teachers Kelly Perkins and Rosie Reid were named the county’s 2018-19 Teachers of the Year. 

With the TOY program dating back to 1973, this is the first, and only other time, that the two county TOYs came from the same school district. The only other time was during the 1979-1980 school year, when both Joseph Hipple and Ann Rowe represented the Mt. Diablo Unified School District.

For the past 10 years, Kelly Perkins has been a special education teacher at Ygnacio Valley High School. Before her current assignment, she taught special education classes for 17 years at other Mt Diablo Unified School District schools, including Foothill Middle, Strandwood Elementary, and Woodside Elementary. In addition, she has been an adjunct professor at St. Mary’s College, since 1998, where she teaches a variety of special-education-related courses for current and soon-to-be educators.

I became a teacher because I enjoy interacting with students and supporting social and intellectual development,” says Perkins. “I also enjoy challenging students and guiding them toward becoming independent thinkers and learners. I chose special education simply because a summer school principal saw my potential in the area of special education and encouraged me to interview for an open special education position in the Mount Diablo Unified School District. Now, 27 years later, I can’t imagine doing anything else!”

Rosie Reid was certainly destined to teach English, with her enormous appetite to read books from an early age. Reid was the best customer when the book mobile would come to town, and she would always walk away with a new tower of books to take on. For the past two years, Reid has taught English/ELD at Northgate High School, in Walnut Creek. Her 16 years of instruction also includes teaching high school English courses at Piedmont High School and John O’Connell High School in San Francisco.

“Perhaps because of my fascination with books, teachers took an interest in me throughout my years of schooling, encouraging me, coaching me in ways my parents who hadn’t been to college didn’t always know how to,” remembers Reid. “I was the first in my family to go to college because of my caring teachers and coaches, so I know as well as anyone the impact educators can have on students’ lives. I became a teacher to pay this forward.”

Perkins and Reid’s pathways to becoming this year’s Contra Costa County Teachers of the Year were quite the endeavor. After both teachers were named Teacher of the Year by their school districts, last March, Perkins and Reid successfully proceeded, with the other 21, K-12 eligible county candidates, through a rigorous countywide selection process, including an application screening, classroom evaluation and interview, and speech presentation. Their two fellow finalists were Shanna Gagnon, San Ramon Valley Unified School District (California High School) and Andrea Salas, Martinez Unified School District, (Alhambra High School).

The evening’s sizable audience included the TOYs’ family members and friends, as well as numerous local educators, business partners, and elected-official representatives. Kicking off the festivities was a musical performance provided by the San Ramon Valley High School Choir. Their teacher, Ken Abrams, led the 25-voice choir of exceptionally talented singers. Abrams is a former San Ramon Valley Unified School District Teacher of the year.

The evening also offered a 15-minute video that featured a visit to each of the honored TOYs’ classrooms, and short interviews of their raving students. This was followed by Sakata introducing the TOY class of 2018-2019, individually on to the stage, where each teacher told the audience about which teacher inspired them to follow a career in education. Afterwards, the four TOY finalists each presented a short speech to the crowd, incorporating the topic: “What I have learned from my students.” The highly anticipated announcement of the two new county TOYs concluded the exciting festivities with a loud ovation.

Perkins and Reid will now participate with all the other California county representatives in the California State TOY competition. The California State Teachers of the Year are expected to be announced in early October. The county TOY program is coordinated by the Contra Costa County Office of Education.




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