The County Office of Education honored 16 teachers, who overcame the challenge of teaching amid a pandemic to touch the lives of students.
AP English teacher Andrea Caruso, of Northridge, has been named a Los Angeles County’s Teacher of the Year for helping her students thrive during the challenging 2020-21 pandemic school year.
Caruso, who teaches language arts at Grant College Prep & Digital Arts Magnet High School in North Hollywood, encourages her students to boldly seek learning opportunities throughout life and not just in the classroom. She’s been teaching for 24 years and was honored among 16 teachers countywide for being extraordinary educators working under extraordinary circumstances during the last school year.
“When her students leave her class after their year together, Andrea wants them to understand that “learning takes place wherever they are,” and that no matter what their future holds, they should feel “ready and emboldened for the next adventure,” The Los Angeles County Office of Education noted.
One students praised her for challenging her students.
“AP English was a rigorous course,” one student wrote, “but with Mrs. Caruso’s guidance, I was able to finish the class with so much more than I started.”
The Los Angeles County Office of Education announced the honorees Friday at its annual awards banquet held in-person for the first time in almost two years. The county’s teachers of the year program is the largest local competition in the state and nation and is part of the oldest and most prestigious honors contest in the country for public school teachers. The 16 teachers honored were selected from a field of 56 teachers representing the 52 school districts that participated in the 40th annual competition.
The 16 honorees are:
- Alhambra Unified School District — VIRGINIA VASQUEZ
- San Gabriel High School — AP Language & Composition; Years Teaching: 10; Residence: Downey
- Bellflower Unified School District — KIMBERLY ASHTON
- Ernie Pyle Elementary School — Kindergarten; Years Teaching: 26; Residence: Cypres
- Burbank Unified School District — AMELIA CHEATUM
- John Muir Middle Schoo l— History/Social Studies; Years Teaching: 8; Residence: Lake Balboa
- Covina Valley Unified School District — YEMINA ARELLANES
- Northview High School — American Government/Economics/ELD; Years Teaching: 20; Residence: Glendora
- Duarte Unified School District — LESLIE BARTLETT
- Duarte High School & Duarte Arts Academy — Drama; Years Teaching: 19; Residence: Monrovia
- East Whittier City School District — BRITTNEY GUERRA
- Leffingwell Elementary School — Fifth Grade; Years Teaching: 11; Residence: Whittier
- Keppel Union School District — AMANDA MONTGOMERY-SNELL
- Pearblossom Elementary School — Fourth Grade; Years Teaching: 9; Residence: Palmdale
- Los Angeles Unified School District — ANDREA CARUSO
- Grant College Prep & Digital Arts Magnet High School — English; Years Teaching: 24; Residence: Northridge
- Los Angeles Unified School District — RAFAEL CRUZ
- Hollenbeck Middle School/STEMM Magnet — Forensics/Robotics; Years Teaching: 16; Residence: Pasadena
- Los Angeles Unified School District — JASON MYUNG
- Franklin Dual Language Academy Magnet — Math/Algebra; Years Teaching: 17; Residence: Los Angeles
- Pasadena Unified School District — JULIE SILK
- Jackson STEM Dual Language Magnet Academy — First Grade; Years Teaching: 19; Residence: Pasadena
- Redondo Beach Unified School District — SARAH ROBINSON
- Redondo Union High School — Spanish; Years Teaching: 15; Residence: Torrance
- South Whittier School District — AMANDA RIISAGER
- Graves Middle School — English/Coding; Years Teaching: 15; Residence: Fullerton
- West Covina Unified School District — LAURIE SAN MIGUEL
- Cameron Elementary School — Third Grade; Years Teaching: 25; Residence: Pomona
- William S. Hart Union High School District — SHELLEY TURSKI
- La Mesa Junior High School — Physical Science/Special Education; Years Teaching: 34; Residence: Stevenson Ranch
- Wilsona School District — JOAN HAMMOND
- Vista San Gabriel Elementary School — Fourth Grade; Years Teaching: 19; Residence: Lancaster
“During this time of extraordinary challenges to our school communities, it is especially important that we pay tribute to our outstanding teachers who, over the past year and a half of this pandemic, have been bringing care, compassion and ingenuity to both their virtual and in-person classrooms,” Superintendent of Schools Debra Duardo said. “I am truly impressed by their innovative practices and the partnerships they have created to keep students learning and thriving.”