Local Teacher of the Year
updated: Oct 16, 2013, 12:00 PM
Source: Cox Communications
Saturday evening, October 12, at the Bacara Resort, seven local educators were honored, including the
Santa Barbara County Teacher of the Year, Kelly Choi, during "Cox Presents: A Salute to Teachers" in
partnership with the Santa Barbara County Education Office. The inaugural event honored Santa Barbara
County's public school teachers and will be televised on Cox8.
Teachers Awarded Include:
• 2014 Santa Barbara County Teacher of the Year
Kelly Choi, Dos Pueblos High School (Santa Barbara Unified School District)
Kelly, a true teacher-leader, is the director and co-founder of the Dos Pueblos Charger Academy, which
gives intensive attention to students who are most at risk of not graduating from high school. She is
also a math teacher and serves as technology coach for the Santa Barbara Unified School District,
helping colleagues leverage technology to boost student achievement. Kelly earned her B.A. from
California State University, Sacramento and began teaching 17 years ago. She is truly dedicated to her
students and their success doing whatever it takes to ensure their success and achievement.
• DISTINGUISHED NEW EDUCATORS
The Distinguished New Educators are teachers who are new to the profession and are participating in
the SBCEO Teacher Induction Program. Selected from a large pool of nominees, these individuals exhibit
exemplary instructional practice, inspiration, innovation, and tremendous potential as future leaders in
their schools and districts.
• Cheryl Lastra, Solvang School (Solvang School District)
A graduate of Santa Ynez Valley schools, Cheryl earned her teaching credential at Chapman University.
She began working with students with special needs in 2007 at Solvang School and later at Jonata
Middle School. Returning to Solvang School this year, Cheryl is working to increase student engagement
by integrating technology into her students' learning opportunities. Cheryl is a passionate new teacher,
demonstrating tremendous potential for continually evolving her professional practice as an educator.
• Tyler Wilkes, Hollister School (Goleta Union School District)
Now in his fourth at Hollister Elementary School, Tyler graduated from Chapman University and earned
his credential and M.A. from Azusa Pacific. His numerous volunteer experiences serving youth and the
homeless galvanized his interest in becoming a teacher. Tyler describes working with young people as
the place where he feels "at home and in his element." With a positive and caring attitude, Tyler brings
integrity and fervor to his professional practice.
• Jessica Zambrano, Pioneer Valley High School (Santa Maria Jt. Union High School District)
Now in her fourth year at Pioneer Valley High School in the Santa Maria Joint Union High School District,
Jessica earned her B.A. in French from UC Irvine and credential from Cal State Long Beach. For two years
she taught English in France, where she discovered her passion for teaching. That experience convinced
her that she was a natural for the teaching profession. A truly gifted teacher, Jessica's love of learning is
infectious and inspires her students every day.
• DISTIGUISHED MENTORS
The Distinguished Mentors are teacher leaders who support new educators within the SBCEO Teacher
Induction Program. Selected from a large pool of nominees, these individuals demonstrate an undying
commitment to professional growth, exemplary instructional practice, inspiration leadership, and a
dedication to maximizing student learning.
• Amanda Sweigart, Ellwood School (Goleta Union School District)
Amanda has taught all eight years of her professional career in the Goleta Union School District. The
daughter of a special education teacher, she always knew she wanted to teach. Earning her B.A. and
credential at UCSB, Amanda is a natural leader in the teaching profession constantly seeking new
opportunities to build her expertise while inviting others, including new teachers, to learn from her
experience. Amanda is an outstanding mentor, dedicated to supporting those who seek to improve their
• Michelle Poquette, Cabrillo High School (Lompoc Unified School District)
An alumnus of Cabrillo High School where she has taught for 12 years, Michelle combines her love of
the natural world with her passion for teaching. She earned her B.S. and credential from Cal Poly San
Luis Obispo. Michelle is an innovative teacher who is dedicated to instruction that is authentic,
engaging, and effective. She thoroughly enjoys sharing her expertise with new teachers and believes in
helping them become successful while learning from the fresh enthusiasm they share with her.
• Megan Cotich, La Colina Jr. High School (Santa Barbara Unified School District)
Ten years ago, Megan began teaching 7th grade Life Science at La Colina Junior High School, after
earning her B.A. and credential at UCSB. Her mother was "an exemplary teacher role model" who
imparted the importance of building a community in the classroom. A highly regarded teacher-leader,
Megan now mentors new teachers in the Teacher Induction Program and UCSB students, instilling the
values of collaboration, collegiality, and excellence in teaching.
Highlights from "Cox Presents: A Salute to Teachers" will be available to watch on Cox8tv.com and Cox8
Salute to Teachers Airings on Cox 8:
11/4 - 12/27
Mon, Wed, Fri @ 2pm
Fri, Sat Sun @ 7pm
Sponsors of "Cox Presents: A Salute to Teachers" included presenting sponsors Montecito Bank & Trust,
Village Properties, Bacara and Fielding Graduate University. Other sponsors include Boone Graphics,
Nico Cervantes, Anthem Blue Cross, Noozhawk and Curtis Winery.
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