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Teacher of the Year

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2017-2018 Contra Costa County
District Teacher of the Year Representatives

2017-2018 County Teachers of the Year

Paula Raj

Paula Raj
West Contra Costa Unified SD
De Anza High

Marissa Ware

Marissa Ware
San Ramon Valley Unified SD
John Baldwin Elementary

2017-2018 County Teacher of the Year Finalists

Paula Raj

Paula Raj
West Contra Costa
Unified SD
De Anza High

Kari Stewart

Kari Stewart
Walnut Creek SD
Tice Creek Elementary

Tom Trowbridge

Tom Trowbridge
Mt. Diablo Unified SD
Concord High

Marissa Ware

Marissa Ware
San Ramon Valley
Unified SD
John Baldwin Elementary

Shawna Borba

Shawna Borba
Brentwood Union SD
Bristow Middle

Susan Boudreau

Susan Boudreau
Orinda Union SD
Orinda Intermediate

Tiffany Chieudjui

Trina Bradshaw
Liberty Union High SD
Liberty High School

Tiffany Chieudjui

Tiffany Chieudjui
West Contra Costa
Unified SD
Grant Elementary

Paige Colburn

Paige Colburn
Oakley Union
Elementary SD
Gehringer Elementary

John Freytax

John Freytag
Contra Costa Community College District
Diablo Valley College

Kelly Giotta

Kelly Giotta
San Ramon Valley
Unified SD
Gale Ranch Middle

Paula Gonzalez

Paula Gonzalez
Knightsen Elementary SD
Knightsen Elementary

China Harvey

China Harvey
Acalanes Union High SD
Las Lomas High

Michael Haase-Whitaker

Michael Haase-Whitaker
Pittsburg Unified SD
Highlands Elementary

Margaret Honey

Margaret Honey
Mt. Diablo Unified SD
Northgate High

Erica Hornnes

Erica Hornnes
Byron Union SD
Excelsior Middle

Amanda Lorie

Amanda Lorie
Moraga SD
Donald L. Rheem Elementary

Linda Mara

Linda Mara
Lafayette SD
Stanley Middle

Julie Quinn

Julie Quinn
Martinez Unified SD
Las Juntas Elementary

Jacey Renfroe

Jacey Renfroe
Antioch Unified SD
Marsh Elementary

Rhuepell Stroud

Rhuepell Stroud
Court Schools

David Taylor

David Taylor
John Swett Unified SD
Rodeo Hills Elementary

2017-2018 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 Diablo Valley 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.

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2017-18 Teacher of the Year Selection Committee

Phil Arnold, Government Alliance on Race & Equity

Steve Austin, Contra Costa County Superior Court

Anne Battersby, Piedmont School District (ret.)

Michael Casten, Office of the Sheriff David O. Livingston

Rena Cutright, West Contra Retired Teachers Assoc.

Barbara Diskowski, Diablo Vista Retired Teachers Assoc.

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

Jill Fannin, Contra Costa County Superior Court

Karl Fischer, Contra Costa Health Services

Lori Herington, Comcast

Karen Hurd, Contra Costa County Schools Insurance Group

Emily Justice, Contra Costa County Office of Education

Jessica Leal, Travis Credit Union

Annette Lewis, 32nd PTA

Robin Lipetzky, Contra Costa County Public Defenders' Office

Aimee Lohr, Phillips 66

Eric Maldonado, Travis Credit Union

Alison McKee, Contra Costa County Library

Dr. Diane Mukerjee, California State University, East Bay

Dan O'Malley, O'Connor, Runckel & O'Malley, LLP

Dr. Heidi Rambo, St. Mary's College

Marsha Tokuyoshi, Contra Costa County Office of Education

Michael Wasilchin, West Contra Costa Unified School District

Erica Williamson, CCCSIG

Susan Yamashita, Lafayette School District (ret.)

Nicholas Zefeldt, Contra Costa County Office of Education

Dr. Rona Zollinger, Martinez Unified School District


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 schools who teach pre-kindergarten through college. 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 31, 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, four teachers were selected to advance to the next phase as semifinalists.

II Classroom Observation and Interview:

In 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 July, 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 28, 2017, 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 her 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 July) to the filled banquet room. The excitement-filled evening will come to a dramatic close with the announcement of the 2017-2018 Contra Costa County Teachesr of the Year.

The County representatives are 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; Chevron, 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 Diane Morrell at

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

Chevron, Title Sponsor


  • Bay Area Newspaper Group
  • Contra Contra Costa County Office of Education
  • Dean and Margaret Lesher Foundation
  • Diablo Magazine
  • Saint Mary's College, Kalmanovitz School of Education
  • Wells Fargo Bank


  • 4Imprint
  • Allegro Print and Copy
  • C. Overaa
  • Center REPertory Company
  • Fagen, Friedman & Fullfrost, LLP
  • Gillin, Jacobson, Ellis, Larsen & Lucey Accident Attorneys
  • Kaiser Permanente
  • Mechanics Bank
  • Mike & Shari Maxwell
  • Phillips 66
  • Pleasant Hill Rotary Foundation
  • Shell Martinez Refinery
  • Sunset Development Company
  • The Oakland A's
  • Travis Credit Union
  • USS POSCO Industries


  • ACSA Region 6
  • Barrett Rodda, Story Short Films
  • Broadway Plaza Shopping Center
  • California Symphony
  • Denalect Alarm
  • Keenan & Associates
  • Office Depot
  • Sunvalley Shopping Center, Concord


  • 1st Northern California Credit Union
  • Capitol Advisors
  • CCCSIG Cole Supply Company, Inc.
  • Contra Costa County Special Districts Association
  • CSAA Insurance Group, a AAA Insure
  • Dannis, Wolliver, and Kelley Attorneys at Law
  • Lakeshore Learning
  • O'Connor, Runckel & O'Malley, LLP
  • Peet's Coffee, Pleasant Hill
  • Sloat Garden Center

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Teacher of the Year Contact
Communications Specialist/
Teacher of the Year
FAX, Communications   925.942.3454

Page updated on: December 20, 2017

Rev: 0.4-010514-BETA4