San Diego Unified Teachers of the Year for 2015 are (from left)  Michelle Yepiz, Brenda Mueller and Ronald Lancia. Images from SDUSD
San Diego Unified Teachers of the Year for 2015 are (from left) Michelle Yepiz, Brenda Mueller and Ronald Lancia. Images from SDUSD

One puts on a schoolwide musical, another teaches science to seventh-graders and a third guides young filmmakers while teaching yearbook and AVID.

Meet your San Diego Unified School District Teachers of the Year.

Michelle “Miki” Yepiz of Zamorano Fine Arts Academy, Brenda Mueller of De Portola Middle School and Ronald Lancia of Mission Bay High School will receive honors for 2015 at the Day of the Teacher celebration.

Set for 4:15 p.m. Tuesday, May 5, at Madison High School, the event also will salute more than 140 Teachers of the Year from individual school sites and District Teacher of the Year runners-up. Future Educator Scholars and Mashin and STEM scholarship winners will also be recognized.

“Great teachers make a positive impact on students by consistently creating learning conditions that allow students to meet success,” said schools Superintendent Cindy Marten.

“These three individuals are skillful and passionate professionals who are not only dedicated to improving their own skills but also collaborating with colleagues to create the best learning environment for students. With enthusiasm and purpose, they make a difference every day in the lives of their students and in their school community.”

Yepiz, who teaches fifth grade, has been at Zamorano Elementary for 11 years. Her teaching method is an active and engaging style, and her enthusiasm to teach helps encourage her students to learn.

Yepiz also organizes an after-school theater class to expose students to the arts and coordinates an annual schoolwide musical.

“I firmly believe in educating the whole child,” Yepiz wrote in her application essay. “My philosophy centers on the idea that the arts are an integral part of education. The arts must be integrated into the curriculum, not as an addition, but as an enhancement to learning.”

Mueller, a teacher for more than 15 years, has taught science to seventh-graders at De Portola Middle for 11 years.

She is a Noyce Master Teaching Fellow at San Diego State University, the district said. Mueller’s main focus in the classroom is to foster a safe environment in which students can take part in productive discussions and talk about their ideas.

“She is able to build strong relationships with her students while simultaneously commanding their best effort,” wrote De Portola Principal Ryan Brock.

“Students flock to Mrs. Mueller and often speak of her friendly demeanor. Class observations show a high level of rigorous and demanding instruction. Brenda offers the best of both worlds (rigor and relationship), which makes for an incredibly powerful educational environment.”

Lancia has been teaching for 16 years, 11 at Mission Bay High where he handles language arts, film, yearbook and AVID.

He developed a program called ACES, or the After-school Center for Excellence and Support, which offers students academic support across curriculum. For Lancia, the program represents four distinct areas of personal commitment.

“Hearts represents the importance of mentorship and service,” Lancia wrote in his application essay. “Clubs represents the club/community effect I deeply value. Diamonds signifies a balanced approach to academics, a notion I’ve appreciated since studying multiple intelligences. And finally, spades represents digging deeper one-on-one and building relationships.”

This year’s three runners-up are Mary Lou Baranowski of Lindbergh Schweitzer Elementary School, Simone Kincaid of Creative Performing and Media Arts Middle School and Shirley Miranda of Morse High School.

All six candidates will go on to the countywide Teacher of the Year competition, and will be recognized by the San Diego County Office of Education in October.

Every year, one teacher at each level — elementary, middle and high school — is selected as District Teacher of the Year along with a runner-up at each level. Nominees are first selected by their school sites, and then have the option to go through the application process, which includes writing essays, an interview and a classroom observation.