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Poway Unified Pair Lead Group of 5 Named County Teachers of the Year

Ramona, Chula Vista and El Cajon also represented—including a resident of Spring Valley.

Two teachers from the Poway Unified School District led a group of five Saturday named county Teachers of the Year. Others work in El Cajon, Chula Vista and Ramona.

Third-grade teacher Anthony Bayro of Los Penasquitos Elementary School in Rancho Peñasquitos joined Poway Unified colleague Martin Reisert of Oak Valley Middle School in 4S Ranch in the select team.

Bayro and sixth-grade teacher Reisert were honored during televised ceremonies at the Balboa Theatre in downtown San Diego.

Bayro thanked all the teachers and staff at “Los Pen” and spoke to “my past and present students: Work hard, be kind, no excuses.”

Reisert, who admitted being a struggling student in his youth, advised: “Never quit on your students because anything can be achieved if you believe in them.”

Jennifer McSparran, a K-6 special-needs teacher at Mt. Woodson Elementary School in Ramona, also won, making her eligible for state awards.

“Wow, this is such an honor,” McSparran said.

Speaking to a crowd that showed signs of support for her, she singled out for thanks her principal, Theresa Grace, and Eileen Highley, the Ramona Unified School District director of pupil services, “who have been leaders by example.”

And McSparran, a Santee resident, thanked “all of my students, who inspire me every day. I love going to work because of you.”

Others receiving crystal apples as Teacher of the Year were:

  • Tim Dobbins, a Spring Valley resident who teaches sixth-grade math and science at Montgomery Middle School on El Cajon’s Melody Lane in the Cajon Valley Union School District.
  • Emily Jimenez, who teaches teaches seventh-grade English at Rancho del Rey Middle School in Chula Vista, part of the Sweetwater Union High School District.

CNN’s Nischelle Turner of HLN’s ShowBiz Tonight and Channel 4 San Diego’s Dennis Morgigno co-hosted “Cox Presents: A Salute to Teachers brought to you by Ashford University.” 

In cooperation with the San Diego County Office of Education, the Academy Awards-style special—which will be rebroadcast—honored San Diego County’s 26,000 public school teachers.

A well-dressed audience was entertained by student musicians, dancers and singers, including a large choir from Empresa Elementary School in Oceanside and the seven-member varsity song team from Ramona High School, doing a dance routine.

Over the course of a show that went 10 minutes beyond the scheduled 90, 10 teachers were introduced as finalists, including Joey Sutera: a third-grade teacher at Carlton Oaks School in Santee; and Elizabeth Lewellen of Pendleton Elementary School, who did a shout-out to the military parents of her students.

The 42 nominees for San Diego County Teacher of the Year had been chosen as their district Teachers of the Year on the basis of “student achievement, professional development and community involvement, teaching philosophy and personal style, knowledge of educational issues and trends, promotion and development of the teaching profession, accountability, and ability to serve as ambassadors of education,” according to organizers.

Among the presenters of the 10 finalists Saturday night was La Mesa’s Alicia McBride, who appeared on stage in a sparkling silver gown—and very pregnant.

“You’ve been busy since the last time we saw you,” host Morgigno told McBride, a county Teacher of the Year and 2011 finalist for California Teacher of the Year—who also has a young son.

McBride replied: “Yes, our celebration may have gotten out of hand.”

Then Morgigno said: “I’m almost afraid to ask this: What’s your due date?”

“Today,” she nodded in reply.


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