Four standout instructors have been named 2014 Stanislaus County Teachers of the Year.
The primary grades award went to Susan Peters of La Rosa Elementary in Ceres. Marlene Bergstrom of Medeiros Elementary in Turlock took the title for fourth through sixth grades. The junior high trophy went to Jennifer Rutishauser of Ustach Middle School in north Modesto’s Sylvan Union School District. The top high school teacher was William Frey of Waterford High.
Teachers were nominated by their principals, and finalists were selected from 87 nominees representing 19 school districts in Stanislaus County. A selection committee of Rotarians and educators narrowed the nominations through a paper screening process and visited the classrooms of 24 semi-finalists. The Stanislaus County Office of Education facilitates the program.
The four winning teachers each received a $1,000 cash award from the Modesto Rotary Club Foundation and a $500 Nasco gift card at a Modesto Rotary Club luncheon Tuesday.
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The Jane Johnston Civility Award and $1,000 prize went to Michelle Jones from Magnolia Elementary in Oakdale, one of 12 finalists. The Civility Award honors former SCOE Assistant Superintendent Jane Johnston, who helped launch the Choose Civility Initiative in 2010.
Susan Peters has taught for 32 years in Ceres Unified School District, most of those years guiding third-graders. “Susan goes that extra mile to bring in pictures, objects, songs, art or whatever it takes to make sure that her students enjoy her class and understand the material,” said La Rosa Principal Lori Mariani.
Marlene Bergstrom, with 24 years of teaching under her belt, leads a fourth-grade class at Medeiros. “Marlene brings a great deal of skill, resources and expertise to the field of education,” said Principal Jennifer Yacoub. “She is very involved in individualized student goals, learning and outcomes.”
A teacher for 12 years, Jennifer Rutishauser lines up math concepts for Ustach students. “Her students are valued, honored, challenged and inspired. She does not accept mediocrity from students,” said Principal Nick Stever. “It is not uncommon for students from (Rutishauser’s) classes to jump two or three performance bands on the STAR tests in a single school year.”
William Frey has been teaching science for the past 12 years. Waterford High Principal Ignacio Ramirez said William is a dynamic teacher. “His passion and love for teaching is evident and is only equaled by his love for students and their learning,” said Ramirez. “He treats students with respect, love and dignity, and students respond tremendously by performing academically in his class.”
This is the 16th year Modesto Rotary and SCOE have joined efforts to honor Stanislaus teachers. Two of the four Teachers of the Year will be selected, through an interview process, to represent Stanislaus County in the State Teacher of the Year Program.
“Someone once said, ‘Good teachers are to education what education is to all other professions – the indispensable element, the sunlight and oxygen, the foundation on which everything else is built,’ ” said county Superintendent Tom Changnon. “It is truly an honor to partner with the Rotary to recognize these outstanding teachers ... who (have) helped shape the lives of young students in our county.”