Santa Barbara County Education Office to honor county teachers that excel

By Newsroom
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The Santa Barbara County Education Office (SBCEO) has announced the selection of three Distinguished Mentors and three Distinguished New Educators who will be honored at the ninth annual A Salute to Teachers gala in November.

The event will be hosted by the SBCEO and founding co-sponsor, Cox Communications. 

Each year, school administrators, colleagues, and others are invited to nominate mentor teachers who demonstrate exceptional instructional practices and leadership, and to nominate new teachers who demonstrate early career success and outstanding skill.

“At the SBCEO, we are committed to developing, supporting and honoring educators throughout their careers,” said County Superintendent of Schools Dr. Susan Salcido. Final winners are chosen by a selection committee made up of expert educators, administrators, business and community partners, and a previous county Teacher of the Year.

“This year, we are celebrating six distinguished mentors and new educators who bring wisdom and energy to their school communities, and talents and expertise to our students,” said Salcido.

The Superintendent stated this recognition amplifies the importance of investing in the next generation of teachers.

“It takes incredible new educators and mentor teachers to make that happen. We congratulate and thank them for their achievement and dedication,” she said. 

The Distinguished Mentors are docents from the School Districts from the cities of Santa Barbara, Goleta, Solvang, and Santa María. 

Cara Leach – Foothill Elementary School, Goleta Union School District

Mrs. Leach is a fourth-grade teacher at Foothill Elementary, where she is highly valued by her school community and throughout the entire district. 

Christina ‘Tina’ Roessler – Peabody Charter School, Santa Barbara

Roessler is described as an “expert teacher.” She teaches first grade and has developed a precise set of skills throughout her career as a professional educator. Her refined strategies for working with students from different backgrounds and experiences have resulted in a robust record of successful student outcomes, in both academics and social-emotional wellbeing.

Alyssa Spanier – Solvang School, Solvang School District

Spanier is a dynamic teacher and natural leader on the campus, where she teaches English Language Arts. Under her mentorship, new teachers benefit directly from Alyssa’s commitment to excellence and her drive to succeed.

Alyssa has played a critical role in her school’s success. In the face of the pandemic, she became a Google certified teacher and trained the staff on how to use Google Classroom as a means of providing remote instruction. 

The Distinguished New Educators are: 

Crystal Guzman – El Camino Junior High School, Santa Maria-Bonita School District

Guzman demonstrates skill and positivity in her role teaching English Language Arts and Leadership at El Camino Junior High. 

She has reignited school spirit on campus and was the winner of the Nicholson Hero Award for her tireless determination to improve El Camino and is said to be a “master” of teaching essay writing, and she implements skillful tricks and tools in the classroom with the grace of a veteran teacher. 

Elsy Mora – La Colina Junior High School, Santa Barbara Unified School District

Mora is a Math teacher who has fully immersed herself in the school within her first year of teaching. 

She fosters meaningful connections with students and is a hardworking, dedicated colleague, and was elected to represent the Math department in monthly site meetings and makes decisions on behalf of the math team.

Mrs. Mora also tutors students after school.

Kendall Stevens, La Cumbre Junior High, SB Unified School District

Stevens is a second-year teacher, teaching 8th grade Social Studies. She has quickly defined herself as an innovative, enthusiastic, and motivated educator. 

Mrs. Stevens stepped up to advise the leadership club and has organized more opportunities for student connection on campus, including costume contents, games, and dances. 

“These distinguished educators take part in a two-year Teacher Induction Program, which pairs new teachers with experienced mentors to improve practice, learn professional responsibilities, and focus on student learning,” said Ellen Barger, Assistant Superintendent, Curriculum & Instruction.