Surprise Visits Reveal First Two 2017 Riverside County Teachers of the Year
Teachers in Eastvale and Lake Elsinore are first of four teachers who will represent
Riverside County at 2017 California State Teacher of the Year competition
RIVERSIDE – Two unsuspecting teachers were surprised today by the news that they were selected by Riverside County Superintendent of Schools, Kenneth M. Young, as 2017 Riverside County Teachers of the Year. At each of the campuses, the honorees were taken by surprise with balloons, flowers, and hearty congratulations from students, conspiring colleagues, and family members.
The first two 2017 Riverside County Teachers of the Year are:
- Amanda Sandoval – U.S. history teacher – Eleanor Roosevelt High School, Corona-Norco Unified School District
- Veronica Mondragon - 6th grade language arts/social studies/AVID teacher, Canyon Lake Middle School, Lake Elsinore Unified School District
At Roosevelt High School in Eastvale, Sandoval was surprised by hundreds of cheering students in the performing arts center. During the announcement, Superintendent Young shared student feedback from Sandoval’s application process that revealed how one of her students expressed a desire to become a history teacher like her. “There is no greater honor you can give a teacher,” Superintendent Young said.
Following the surprise, Sandoval shared: “I love my coworkers and my principal. It’s easy to be good at the job with so much support.”At Canyon Lake Middle School, hundreds of students, staff, and family members gathered in the outdoor quad for the surprise. Mondragon was giving awards to students in a separate awards ceremony and was called out of the event for the surprise.
"She's the best teacher," said sixth grade student, Amen Temesgen.
Seventh grade student Ashlee Ratliff and eighth grade student Benjamin Gotoski both said she was just like their moms.
"She even reminded me to take socks to science camp," Gotoski said.
The final two teachers of the year will be announced later this week. Once named, the four teachers of the year will represent Riverside County at the state competition where all four 2016 Riverside County Teachers of the Year were honored earlier this year—including 2016 California State Teacher of the Year, Michelle Cherland, from Carrillo Ranch Elementary School in the Desert Sands Unified School District. In May of 2017, the newly-named teachers of the year will be honored at the Riverside County Office of Education’s annual Celebrating Educators luncheon.
Amanda Sandoval – Corona-Norco USD
Amanda Sandoval has taught U.S. history at Eleanor Roosevelt High School in Eastvale since first becoming a teacher in 2007. She creates opportunities for her students to engage with history in their own community, is a sought-after presenter on topics related to English language learners and technology, and has been described as having “an unquenchable thirst to maximize her instruction.”
Ms. Sandoval’s approach to helping students understand history includes assigning projects that propel her students into historical moments in time so they can envision history happening as if they were an actual character in the story. Not only does Ms. Sandoval promote positive praise and digital literacy in her classes, she shares her social studies lessons online with other teachers and regularly receives feedback from teachers around the country who are successfully utilizing her ideas in their classrooms. She earned a bachelor’s degree from California State Polytechnic University, Pomona, and is a resident of Corona.
Veronica Mondragon – Lake Elsinore USDMs. Mondragon teaches 6th grade language arts/social studies and AVID elective courses for 6th/8th grade students at Canyon Lake Middle School in the Lake Elsinore Unified School District. Her interest in teaching started at an early as she recalled taking on the pretend role of teacher while persuading her sister and cousins to play the role of students. Ms. Mondragon’s creativity and sense of collaboration is on full display in her real classroom today with activities like “Props to Peeps”, “Friday Battles”, “Mom/Daughter Club”, and “Compassion Bags” that promote camaraderie, improve self–esteem, and help students address inequities they observe in their world. Additionally, she has partnered with special educators and the English language learning program coordinator on campus to provide opportunities for their students in conjunction with her AVID students.
In her application, Ms. Mondragon shared how “there are too many uncertainties in the daily life of any student, so I firmly believe that it is my job to make sure they feel secure and loved before any learning can be expected.” Ms. Mondragon earned a bachelor’s degree from California State University, San Marcos. She has taught at Canyon Lake Middle School since she became a teacher in 2007 and is a resident of Murrieta.
The Riverside County Teachers of the Year are selected from nearly 20,000 educators in the county. The rigorous application process requires candidates to spend time reflecting on, and carefully defining, their teaching philosophy. The county teachers of the year are selected on the basis of nominations by teachers, principals, and school district administrators throughout the county. Applications are then submitted to the Riverside County Office of Education, where an outside selection committee reviews the applications on each district candidate and selects the four finalists. The selection committee then conducts on-site classroom visitations for each finalist before the county superintendent announces the Riverside County Teachers of the Year.
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