Four Stanislaus County educators were named Teachers of the Year on Tuesday by the county Office of Education and the Modesto Rotary, earning a $1,000 cash award and a possible trip to the state Teacher of the Year competition.
Two of the four teachers will be chosen in July to compete for the state title.
This year's honorees are:
Kelsie Woody, who teaches chemistry, biology and robotics at Pitman High School in Turlock. She is known for giving each of her 150 students personalized "Woody" awards and serves as faculty adviser for Pitman's competitive robotics team.
Barbara Worrel, a physical science teacher at Hanshaw Middle School in Modesto, who creates quirky classroom experiments that can get loud, exciting and sometimes stinky. "I'm putting on five shows a day, five days a week," Worrel told The Bee in an earlier interview. "I have to compete with television and Xbox."
Peggy Buckley, a first-grade teacher at Don Pedro Elementary in Ceres, who helped her school become part of the "No Excuses University" school network that promotes college readiness for every student. Buckley's students have pen pals from their adopted college, the University of Kansas. "Many of my first-graders now proudly tell me, 'I'm going to college,' " Buckley said.
Lisa Simao, a teacher at El Vista Elementary in Modesto, whose first teaching position was in a classroom where seven languages were spoken. She now works with the entire school to get extra help to students who are struggling.
Teachers were nominated by their principals, and the finalists were selected from among 66 nominees. Eight other finalists were honored: Nanci Navarro from Turlock's Osborn Elementary, Kelly Rydquist of Standiford Elementary, Melinda Riley of Sherwood Elementary and Grant Salha of Woodrow Elementary, all from Modesto's Sylvan school district; Michelle Dias of Oakdale Junior High; Sara Martin of Hart-Ransom School in Modesto; Ann Amador of Modesto's Johansen High; and William Frey of Waterford High School.
Bee staff writer Merrill Balassone can be reached at email@example.com or 578-2337.