Los Altos School District officials changed their selection process for Teacher of the Year this year to recognize an outstanding teacher at each school.
Superintendent Jeff Baier and former Los Altos Teachers Association President Nikki Mitchell implemented a process that highlighted a Teacher of the Year at every campus, in addition to selecting one recipient to represent the district at the Santa Clara County Office of Education level, as in the past.
The district recognized the Teacher of the Year from each of the Los Altos schools last week at a reception, where officials revealed their overall Teacher of the Year, who will be honored by the Santa Clara County Office of Education.
“Each of these 10 teachers is remarkable for what they do with and for children,” Baier said at the event as he introduced the Teacher of the Year from each school. The honorees include:
• Lisa Call, Almond. She has taught at Almond for nine years. Baier highlighted her involvement with the school chorus, leadership committee and the school’s annual play.
“She has a wonderful approach to teaching,” he said.
• Marron Honigman, Blach Intermediate. She has taught in the district for more than 10 years. Baier noted the mathematics instructor’s involvement in the school’s annual Washington, D.C., trip, student leadership program and track team. He praised her “energy and enthusiasm” and for always “doing what is best for students.”
• Eileen Cuzzi, Covington. Baier lauded Cuzzi’s participation on many district committees and thanked her for her “professionalism and sense of humor.” He said she is a “role model for teachers and students alike.” Cuzzi is scheduled to retire at the end of the school year.
• Anne Spector, Egan Junior High. Spector has taught in the district for 15 years. Baier recognized her “passion for students,” her “extraordinary impact” and her involvement with the music program.
• Krysta Muspratt, Gardner Bullis. Baier honored Muspratt, who has taught in the district for six years, for “consistently going above and beyond” and for “not being afraid to try new things.”
• Grace Choi, Loyola. Choi, the school’s STEM teacher, received recognition for her “vested interest in the whole child” and how she “embodies collaboration.”
• Janis Tjader, Oak Avenue. Tjader, who has been a teacher for 26 years, was described as an “amazing teacher who balances professionalism with humor” and exudes a “positive attitude.” She was praised for continuing to support the school, even during a recent medical leave.
• Kelly Rafferty, Santa Rita. A teacher at Santa Rita for 10 years, Rafferty stands out as a “true team player” who “brings innovative learning to the classroom,” according to Baier.
• Judi Hultberg, Springer. Hultberg, a teacher for 21 years, was praised for being “passionate and extremely thorough” and for her involvement with the district’s iLearn program and committees.
• Carol Raymond, District Office. The district selected Raymond, a new teacher mentor, as the overall recipient of Teacher of the Year to represent the district at the county level. Raymond, who has taught in the district for 27 years at every grade level, had many teachers singing her praises, Baier said.
“She has positively impacted hundreds of students,” he said. “She is caring and sensitive to the diverse needs of students, and she willingly shares her expertise.”
The teachers at each school nominated the candidate they felt most deserving of the award. The principal and one teacher at each site then interviewed the nominees and prepared information sheets shared with the rest of the staff, who voted for their school’s candidate.
The district appointed a small committee of teachers and principals to determine who among the 10 nominees would represent the district as one of the Santa Clara County Teachers of the Year.
“I think even the process was very rewarding for everyone involved,” Baier said. “Even if a site had six nominations, there were conversations about great work being done. In a way, everyone got to celebrate the fantastic work going on at all the school sites.”