Clockwise from left are Tiffany Jokerst, Jacquelyn Jourdane, Heather McClain, Laura Reyes and Xye Sanders.

Five local educators representing schools in Santee, Lemon Grove, Ramona, Escondido, and Oceanside have been named San Diego County Teachers of the Year.

The honorees were announced at a reception Friday night as part of the 31st annual Cox Presents: Salute to Teachers sponsored by San Diego County Credit Union.

The 2021-22 San Diego County Teachers of the Year are:

  • Tiffany Jokerst, West Hills High School, Grossmont Union High School District
  • Jacquelyn Jourdane, San Altos Elementary School, Lemon Grove School District
  • Heather McClain, James Dukes Elementary School, Ramona Unified School District
  • Laura Reyes, Central Elementary School, Escondido Union School District
  • Xye Sanders, César Chávez Middle School, Oceanside Unified School District

“As we face another year in this pandemic, teachers continue to go above and beyond for their students. They work tirelessly to make sure students’ social and emotional needs are cared for while providing the supports they need to participate and succeed in school,” said Dr. Paul Gothold, San Diego County superintendent of schools.

“San Diego County teachers are talented. They are dedicated. And they are resilient. It’s an honor to be recognizing these amazing educators and individuals,” Gothold said.

In partnership with the San Diego County Office of Education, Cox Communications will produce a one-hour “Cox Presents: Salute to Teachers” television special to recognize local teachers, spotlight the teachers of the year, and share highlights from the reception. The show will air at 9 p.m. Oct. 17 on YurView Network (Cox Channel 4 and 1004 in high definition) and will replay several times in October and November.

“Cox is proud of our 31-year partnership with the San Diego County Office of Education to recognize our local public school teachers. Their commitment to their students, especially during the pandemic, has been awe-inspiring,” said Ingo Hentschel, senior vice president and region manager for Cox Communications.

“‘Cox Presents: Salute to Teachers'” is a way for the community to say ‘thank you’ to our teachers, and we’re excited to highlight their passion for teaching, dedication to their students and creativity in the classroom,” he added.

“SDCCU congratulates the five San Diego County Teachers of the Year for their dedication to students and for going above and beyond in the classroom,” said SDCCU President and CEO Teresa Campbell. “As the presenting sponsor of Salute to Teachers, we celebrate all teachers for their hard work and commitment to education and shaping the future of today’s youth.”

The 2021-22 County Teachers of the Year were chosen from among 33 teachers nominated by their school districts for their commitment to students, teaching, and lifelong learning. The winners were selected based on a review of their applications and interviews by a panel made up of former county Teachers of the Year, school and county office of education administrators, and a PTA representative.

They were chosen based on school-community involvement, teaching philosophy, knowledge of current issues and trends in education, promotion and development of the teaching profession, school culture, and ability to serve as ambassadors of education.

The County Teacher of the Year program also includes the selection of five finalists: Tic Srinalack, Potter Junior High School, Fallbrook Union Elementary School District; Ana Nosal, Mount Miguel High School, Grossmont Union High School District; Amy Wert, Ira Harbison Elementary School, National School District; Francia Pinillos, T.R.A.C.E. Alternative School, San Diego Unified School District; and Sharon Apple, Hoover High School, San Diego Unified School District.

The five Teachers of the Year will represent San Diego County in the California Teacher of the Year program. The state winners will be announced next month. Since 1974, 186 teachers have been named San Diego County Teacher of the Year. Of those, 22 were named California Teacher of the Year, and three went on to be named National Teacher of the Year.

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Chris Jennewein

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