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2008 – 2009 Teacher of the Year

Tree with educational items

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2008-2009 Contra Costa County
District Teacher of the Year Representatives

2008-2009 County
Teacher of the Year

Photo of Mark Morello

Mark Morello
Brentwood Union School District
Bristow Middle School


2008-2009 County Teacher of the Year Finalists

photo of Mary Dietler

Mary Dietler
San Ramon Valley USD
Alamo Elementary School

photo of Andreas Kaiser

Andreas Kaiser
Pittsburg USD
Pittsburg High School

photo of Mark Morello

Mark Morello
Brentwood Union School District
Bristow Middle School

photo of Erin Caldwell

Erin Caldwell
Lafayette SD
Springhill Elementary

photo of Joanne Clark

Joanne Clark
John Swett USD
Willow High

photo of Cris Connaughton

Cris Connaughton
West Contra Costa Unified SD
Valley View Elementary

photo of Helen Coverdale

Helen Coverdale
Mt. Diablo Unified SD
Mt. Diablo Elementary

photo of Carol Elder

Carol Elder
Byron Union SD
Timber Point Elementary

photo of Dianne Furuya-Wong

Dianne Furuya-Wong
Moraga SD
Lost Perales Elementary

photo of Cathryn Griggs

Cathryn Griggs
Oakley Unified Elementary SD
Laurel Elementary

photo of Janet Howard

Janet Howard
Orinda Union SD
Wagner Ranch Elementary

photo of Jaime Lynch

Jaime Lynch
Antioch Unified SD
Sutter Elementary

photo of Chris Maters

Chris Maters
Acalanes Union HSD
Knightsen Elementary

photo of Jeffrey Newcomb

Jeffrey Newcomb
California State University, East Bay

photo of Jesse Ortega

Jesse Ortega
Liberty Union HSD
Liberty High

2008-2009 District Teachers of the Year

photo of Alison Perruso

Alison Perruso
Walnut Creek SD
Walnut Creek Intermediate

photo of Jacqueline Rosig

Jacqueline Rosig
CCC Office of Education
Mt. McKinley School

photo of Carolyn Seefer

Carolyn Seefer
Contra Costa Community College District, Diablo Valley College

photo of Melissa Stephenson

Melissa Stephenson
Martinez Unified SD
John Swett Elementary

photo of Cathy Templeton

Cathy Templeton
Knightsen School District
Knightsen Elementary

photo of Carol Wallis

Carol Wallis
Mt. Diablo Unified SD
Holbrook Elementary

photo of Natalie Wojinski

Natalie Wojinski
West Contra Costa Unified SD
Hercules Middle



Note regarding eligible participants:

  • 17 of the 19 Contra Costa County school districts represented
  • Due to the large student and teacher population, the West Contra Costa Unified School District and the Mt. Diablo Unified School District each present two TOY candidates
  • 1 community college (which does not compete in the State Teacher of the Year competition)

CCTV will broadcast the Awards Dinner.. More broadcast information can be found at

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About the Teachers 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.

With such a high caliber of teaching professionals to draw from, the county uses a three-stage selection process:

  1. Application Screening: In late April, a committee of educators and business partners carefully reviews the applicants that are submitted from the school districts. Members rate each application separately. The top five to six teachers selected then advance to the next phase.
  2. Classroom Observation: A committee observes the selected teachers interacting with students in the classroom & spends time interviewing them on their teaching philosophy and technique. The results of the two screening processes are then combined to determine the three finalists.
  3. In mid August, the three finalists each give a three-minute speech at a district new-teacher orientation, which is judged by a panel of educators and business representatives. All scores are then combined to determine the 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

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Many thanks to our generous donors who make this program a success!


Contra Costa County
Office of Education

Contra Costa Times



Dean and Margaret Lesher Foundation

Sports Basement

Wells Fargo Foundation

Tesoro Petroleum


Allegro Copy and Print


C. Overaa and Company

California Symphony

Center REP/Dean Lesher Regional Center for the Arts

Chapman University


Festival Opera

Fitzpatrick Chevrolet Hummer

George Miller Youth Foundation

Kaiser Permanente

Kelling, Northcross & Nobriga

Lakeshore Learning Materials

METRO 1 Credit Union

Shell Oil Products U.S./Martinez Refinery

USS POSCO Industries

Wahington Mutual

Willows Theatre Company


ACSA Region 6

Broadway Plaza Shopping Center

CD Federal Credit Union

Diablo Regional Arts Association

Dow Chemical Company

East Bay Municipal Utility District

Keenan & Associates

Lakeshore Learning Materials

Longs Drug Stores

Mechanics Bank

Mt. Diablo Recycling

Susan Stuart & Associates


Paul & Ginger Bonnar

Val and Patty Castro

Judith Collier

Milton and Jackie DeGroodt

Delta Diablo Sanitation District

Diablo Vista Retired Teachers’ Association

Hilton Concord

Pleasant Hill Florist

Ed and Gwen Regalia

Office Depot

Chris Rizzoli and Heather Haugen Rizzoli

Trinity Media, Inc.


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

Page updated on: December 20, 2017

Rev: 0.4-010514-BETA4