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LAKE COUNTY

Katherine Perkins

Katherine Perkins

First Grade Teacher, Burns Valley School, Konocti Unified School District


I became interested in teaching when I was in high school. I had the opportunity to work in a first grade classroom and receive high school credits. I enjoyed working with the students, even though at times they took advantage of me. I had discovered my calling. I went on to receive my teaching credential from California State University Sonoma. I have been teaching over 20 years in different cities: Petaluma, Oakland, Concord and Clearlake.

The aspect of teaching that appeals to me the most is change. Every year there are different students, and different lessons. Each child is different, and the energy they bring to the classroom melts with the energy from the other students to form a class. With teaching, no day is ever the same, and I embrace that aspect of the job.

MARIN COUNTY

Dr. Andrew Mecca

Dr. Andrew Mecca

President, California Mentor Foundation


My involvement in education has been through a non-traditional path. While I have taught students at all stages of education, it was for many years in the context of prevention and treatment for substance abuse. I have trained many others to work with students in this area all over the world. I published over eight books on effective strategies for youth development.

In my experience as Chief of Alcohol and Drug Services in Marin County and as Director of the California Department of Alcohol and Drug Programs, I began to see the importance of role models or mentors in the lives of young people struggling to overcome the problems of addiction. It was then that I founded the California Mentor Foundation and a program called Lifeplan using mentors to give kids a path to success. In these unconventional roles, I am a teacher and very proud to be one.
Dan Phillips

Dan Phillips

Speech and Language Pathologist, Marin County Office of Education


I am honored to be recognized as the Schoolmaster of the Year this year. As a teacher who has worked with the Marin County Office of Education for the past 21 years, I have had the pleasure of working with thousands of teachers, families and students throughout Marin from all ages and disabilities. I am continually inspired and humbled by the dedication and perseverance of those around me and feel like I learn something new each and every day. As technology continues to expand and evolve, I am excited for the future of education and look forward to many more years of growth!

MENDOCINO COUNTY

Leslie Barkley

Leslie Barkley

First Grade Teacher, Grace Hudson Elementary School, Ukiah Unified School District


I knew I wanted to be a teacher when I was five years old and never wavered from this desire throughout college. After leaving college to work and travel, I completed my degree in German Literature at UC, Davis. I went on to earn my multiple subjects teaching credential in 1979. Years later, I completed my Masters in Language and Learning in addition to becoming a National Board certified teacher.

To me, teaching is more than a job– it is a vocation. My passion is to open the world to my students through art, literature and multiple learning opportunities. I have taught all grades from Kindergarten to 5th grade, usually in a multiage setting. This has provided me with multiple opportunities to integrate the arts in all subject areas and experience the joy of children learning through doing. What better career could I have ever asked for?
Sandy Peters

Sandy Peters

Coordinator/Teacher, Mendocino County Office of Education Business School


Since 1975, I’ve taught business/computer courses at the high school and community college level. In 2000, I was hired at the Mendocino County Office of Education’s Business School to instruct computer and business courses. In 2003, I began co-teaching a medical assisting course, and in 2005, I became a Career Technical Education Coordinator.

In 2010, MCOE became a Certiport testing center, and I facilitated the Mendocino County Microsoft Elevate America program which enabled my students, local teachers, and community members to receive free testing vouchers to become Microsoft certified.

I’ve enjoyed mentoring 10 beginning teachers– a highlight of my teaching career. Although my course assignments have changed since my first shorthand class, the reason I became a teacher remains the same– making a positive difference one student at a time.
Donna Pierson-Pugh

Donna Pierson-Pugh

Principal, Anderson Valley Elementary School, Anderson Valley Unified School District


I was the middle child of five, raised in the San Francisco Bay Area. Spending two years as a teen in Europe with my sister, who was married to a Spaniard, allowed me to learn Spanish. I attended the Language Institute at the Sorbonne, got an AA degree at Diablo Valley College and then my husband and I moved to San Luis Obispo where I received my BA in Liberal Studies and a preliminary multiple-subject teaching credential from Cal Poly. We moved back to the Bay Area where I taught in Montessori Pre-K programs for two years. We then moved to Sonoma, where my husband was hired as a vineyard manager. During this time, I finished my clear credential at Sonoma State, and worked as a bilingual teacher in Santa Rosa and Sonoma. I was hired by Anderson Valley Unified School District where I have worked for the past 29 years as a teacher, grants coordinator and administrator. I feel grateful and blessed to have had the opportunity to work and learn with this amazing group of educators, parents and students.

NAPA COUNTY

Kimberly Douma

Christopher O’Connor

Science Teacher, St. Helena High School, St. Helena Unified School District 2015 California Teacher of the Year


Growing up on the waters of Cape Cod gave me a passion for adventure and exploration, and inspires me to bring relevance to my subject material as a science teacher.

At St. Helena High School, my mornings start early in the Biodiesel Shed, where students join me at 6:30 a.m. to make biodiesel fuel from waste vegetable oil. Throughout the other courses I teach (Anatomy & Physiology, Biology, Science and Media) you can see examples of my philosophy that learning occurs best when there is hands-on application. Beehive extraction and establishment, cat dissection, Catalina Island field trips and lively debate of current issues around science in our society today are examples of the ways I try to engage my students and instill a love for continued learning.

SOLANO COUNTY

Phillip Green

Phillip Green

Isolated Classroom Environment Supervisor, Benicia High School, Benicia Unified School District


“Phil has made an unbelievable difference in his work with the youth at Benicia High School. He is a skilled counselor who understands the challenges facing our youth. The students feel his concern for them and often seek his guidance and counsel. During his time at our school, discipline issues have declined. Phil is often called on to participate in parent conferences because of the calming presence he brings. Phil Green has a spirit that never wavers when it comes to students and their success. He believes in the kids and does whatever he can to help them succeed.”

— JoAnn Severson, Principal, Benicia Unified School District
Michelle Labelle-Fisch

Michelle Labelle-Fisch

6th Grade Teacher, K.I. Jones Elementary School, Fairfield-Suisun Unified School District


It’s been my pleasure to teach in the Fairfield-Suisun Unified School District for the past 27 years. I knew that teaching was my passion. I wanted to open the eyes of students to the world around them and to the power in their pencils and voices.

The question that we should ask ourselves is what influences us to stay? For me, the answer lies in empowerment. My 6th grade class was invited by Harvard to connect with a school in Shanghai, China to write a book. It was so successful that Harvard called again, this time for South Africa. Why was this experience so noteworthy? It reminded me of my original purpose as an educator– influence students as writers, thinkers, scientists, and learners to open their eyes to the world and find their voices.

To influence students is not enough; we must look for ways to empower them and empower ourselves as educators.