2023-24 teachers of the year
Clockwise from left, Christina Bass, Courtney Coffin, Amanda Ford, Wendy Threatt and Melanie Villanueva

Five local educators representing schools in Chula Vista, El Cajon, Escondido, and Poway have been named San Diego County Teachers of the Year and will vie for the statewide title.

The honorees were announced at a reception Friday night as part of the 33rd annual “Cox Presents: Salute to Teachers,” presented by San Diego County Credit Union in partnership with the San Diego County Office of Education.

The 2023-24 San Diego County Teachers of the Year are:

  • Christina Bass, Painted Rock Elementary, Poway Unified School District — 3rd grade
  • Courtney Coffin, Orange Glen High School, Escondido Union High School District — grades 9 through 12, all subjects, life skills, and community-based instruction
  • Amanda Ford, Flying Hills School of the Arts (previously Rancho San Diego Elementary), Cajon Valley Union School District — 7th grade reading, history, social and emotional learning, World of Work, and visual and performing arts
  • Wendy Threatt, Felicita Elementary, Escondido Union School District — 4th grade
  • Melanie Villanueva, Sweetwater Union High School District — previously 8th grade science at Hilltop Middle, now teacher on special assignment at district office

“Teachers are at the heart of our education system. They educate, guide, and nurture our children, and create learning environments in which all students belong and can thrive,” said Dr. Paul Gothold, San Diego County superintendent of schools.

“We appreciate the hard work and dedication of all the teachers honored tonight and their 23,000 colleagues across the county. It’s an honor to recognize these amazing educators and individuals,” he added.

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 in October.

Cox Communications will produce “Cox Presents: Salute to Teachers,” a 30-minute television special that will spotlight the current and new teachers of the year and share highlights from the reception. 2022 County Teacher of the Year Xye Sanders will serve as host.

The show will premiere at a date to be determined in October on YurView Network (Cox Channel 4) and will replay several times in October and November. 

“For 33 years, Cox has partnered with the San Diego County Office of Education to salute our public school teachers, and this year was another exciting and inspirational evening as the five new county teachers of the year were announced,” said Chanelle Hawken, vice president of government and public affairs for Cox Communications.

“As the wife of a teacher, I’ve seen firsthand how dedicated and hardworking our teachers are. Cox is proud to celebrate and thank them for helping their students reach for the stars,” she said.

The 2023-24 County Teachers of the Year were chosen from among 44 teachers nominated by their school districts for their commitment to students, teaching, and continued growth and development. 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, district and county office of education administrators, and a PTA representative.

Other supporters of the Teachers of the Year program include Murray Lampert, Procopio, Sycuan Band of the Kumeyaay Nation, Oggi’s, Meritage Wine Market, The San Diego Union-Tribune, The Mightier 1090, and KPBS.

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