Paula Richardson of Wilson Middle School in City Heights reacts on a Zoom call after being named a teacher of the year. Image from video

Five teachers from across the region have been named a San Diego County Teacher of the Year and will be honored during the 30th Anniversary of “Cox Presents: A Salute To Teachers.”

Produced by Cox Communications, in partnership with San Diego County Credit Union and the San Diego County Office of Education, this year’s show will be a pre-recorded television special airing at 7 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 21, on Cox’s YurView Network (Cox Channel 4 and 1004 and Spectrum Channel 4).

The five honorees representing schools from Del Mar, Lakeside, Ramona, central San Diego and Valley Center, were chosen from a pool of 40 nominees countywide who are their respective school districts’ teacher of the year.

The five San Diego County Teachers of the Year were selected based on criteria including student progress, school-community involvement, teaching philosophy and commitment to lifelong learning. They were chosen by a panel of past Teacher of the Year honorees, education administrators and a parent representative.

The 2020-21 San Diego County Teachers of the Year are:

  • Arah Allard, Del Mar Hills Elementary School, Del Mar Union School District
  • Christine Hill, Ramona High School, Ramona Unified School District
  • Jose Melo, Valley Center Middle School, Valley Center-Pauma Unified School District
  • Paula Richardson, Wilson Middle School, San Diego Unified School District
  • Jay Tweet, El Capitan High School, Grossmont Union High School District

Since its inception in 1991, the Cox salute has been an in-person black-tie awards show with celebrity presenters and student performances, and televised live. For this anniversary, the show will instead air as a pre-recorded special honoring the Teachers of the Year as well as catching up with past winners as they navigate the challenges of a global pandemic, as well as social and political unrest.

The television special will also share stories from students and parents about the new-found appreciation they have for the teachers in their lives, and take a look back at the 30-year history of “Cox Presents: A Salute To Teachers,” which has received dozens of Emmys and other awards honoring the best in television.

“We’re excited to once again shine the spotlight on the amazing teachers we have in San Diego County, and their dedication to their students and their profession, especially during this challenging year of distance learning,” said Sam Attisha, senior vice president and region manager for Cox Communications. “Just as the classroom looks different this year due to the pandemic, so will our show. But we’ll still capture the passion, creativity, and innovation of San Diego County’s 26,000 public school teachers.”

“As a company founded by a teacher, we’re proud to continue a 30-year tradition of highlighting our county’s teachers of the year and all the district nominees, and we thank the sponsors who share our commitment to education and have returned to show their support for our teaching community,” he added.

Teresa Campbell, president and CEO of SDCCU, said the credit union is proud to support the San Diego region’s teachers.

“We understand the critical role teachers play in helping to shape the future of today’s youth and are grateful for their efforts,” she said. “This year our teachers have faced great uncertainty and unprecedented challenges, and we applaud their tireless devotion and commitment to their classrooms and the community.”

Additional sponsors of the event include the Sycuan Band of the Kumeyaay Nation, Procopio, the San Diego Union-Tribune, the Mightier 1090 and iHeartRadio.

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Chris Jennewein

Chris Jennewein is Editor & Publisher of Times of San Diego.