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Teacher of the Year

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

2016-2017 County
Teachers of the Year

Shawna Hawes

Shauna Hawes
Mt. Diablo Unified SD
Valley View Middle

Gina Minder-Maldanado

Gina Minder-Maldonado
Oakley Union Elementary SD
Oakley Elementary

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

Erin Flanigan

Erin Dinday
Martinez Unified SD
Alhambra High

Krystal Figaroa

Krystal Figaroa
Pittsburg Unified SD
Stoneman Elementary

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 Contra Costa 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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2016-17 Teacher of the Year Selection Committee

Hon. Steve Austin, Contra Costa County Superior Court

Dr. Helen Benjamin, Contra Costa Community
College District

Fire Chief Jeff Carmen, Contra Costa County
Fire Protection District

Barbara Diskowski, Diablo Vista Retired Teachers Association #52

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

Jessica Hudson, Contra Costa County Library

Mary Knox, Contra Costa County District Attorney's Office

Jessica Leal, Travis Credit Union

Annette Lewis, 32nd PTA

Robin Lipetzky, Contra Costa County Office of the
Public Defender

Aimee Lohr, Philips 66

Maria McCullough, Pittsburg Unified School District (ret.)

Aminta Mickles, Contra Costa College

Dr. Diane Mukerjee, California State University, East Bay

Elizabeth Nardi, Lindsay Wildlife Experience

Hon. Dan O'Malley, (ret.) O'Connor, Runckel, & O'Malley, LLP

Dr. Heidi Rambo, St. Mary's College

Vera Rowsey, West Contra Costa Retired Teachers' Assoc.

Matthew Schuler , Contra Costa Co. Office of the Sheriff

Denise Schreiner, Contra Costa County Insurance Group

Melissa Stone, Chevron USA, Inc.

Marsha Tokuyoshi, Contra Costa Co. Office of Education

Michael Wasilchin, West Contra Costa Unified School District

Steve Woodhead, Chevron USA, Inc.

Susan Yamashita, Lafayette School District (ret)

Dr. Rona Zollinger, 2013 Contra Costa County
Teacher of the Year

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 2016–17 donors who made our program a success!

Chevron, Title Sponsor



Contra Costa County Office of Education

Bay Area Newspaper Group

Dean and Margaret Lesher Foundation

The Oakland's

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

Mechanics Bank

Office Depot

Phillips 66

Pleasant Hill Rotary Foundation

Shell Martinez Refinery

Travis Credit Union

USS POSCO Industries


ACSA Region 6

Broadway Plaza Shopping Center

Keenan & Associates

Mike and Shari Maxwell

Santiago and Associates



CSAA Insurance Group, a AAA Insurer

Bloomfield Vineyards

Capitol Advisors

Cole Supply Company, Inc.

Dan Hanel

Dannis, Woliver and Kelley Attorneys at Law

Denalect Alarm, Inc.

Hein Lighting & Electric

Hilton Concord

1st Northern California Credit Union

O'Conner, Runckel, and O'Malley, LLP

Pete's Coffee, Pleasant Hill

Pleasant Hill Florist

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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