The Contra Costa County Office of Education has announced that two of its four Teacher of the Year program finalists are from the San Ramon Valley Unified School District.
After being selected as the SRVUSD's two 2020 Teachers of the Year, Live Oak Elementary School's Sarah Clancy and Stone Valley Middle School's Courtney Konopacky will now each compete to become one of Contra Costa County's two Teachers of the Year -- with the winners of that program going on to represent the county in the state competition.
“Sarah and Courtney are prime examples of the excellent teaching that takes place in the schools of the San Ramon Valley Unified School District. Both are very committed to providing positive, creative and learner centered environments where students of all abilities can realize success,” SRVUSD Superintendent Rick Schmitt said.
“They are educational leaders on their campuses and have earned the respect of staff, students, parents and administration. We are proud to honor these educators and look forward to seeing them honored at the county level, as well," Schmitt added.
Launched in an effort to recognize the efforts of classroom educators, SRVUSD officials say the Teacher of the Year program brings attention to teachers who successfully employ innovative and effective strategies to increase academic success, narrow achievement gaps and better prepare students for 21st century college and careers.
Clancy has been a well-loved and well-respected by members of the Live Oak community for the past 10 years. A fifth-grade teacher who has prioritized mental and emotional well-being among her students and their families, she is a member of the school CARE Leadership team and emphasizes the importance of social emotional learning.
Konopacky teaches eighth grade and has developed a reputation as an on-campus leader, known to have high expectations. District officials say she is masterful at guiding student conversations to promote critical thinking, learning and growth.
According to SRVUSD officials, she has also been a strong voice in supporting the development of standards-based grading work and "a districtwide leader impacting other teachers in the development of progressive and innovative curriculum in the field of social studies."
Clancy and Konopacky are joined on the county's top four list by Christina Nitsos from the Lafayette Elementary School in Lafayette and Katherine Sahm from Del Rey Elementary School in Orinda.
On July 24, the four Teacher of the Year finalists will each give a three- to five-minute speech to a panel of a dozen educators, business and public-sector representatives who will judge the finalists on their speech and presentation skills.
Announcement of the two 2020-21 Contra Costa County Teachers of the Year will take place at the tentatively planned Teacher of the Year Dinner Gala, which is set to be held at the Hilton Concord on Sept. 24 -- pending the status of the COVID-19 shelter-in-place directive from county health officials.
“Congratulations to our four 2020-2021 Teachers of the Year finalists,” Contra Costa County Superintendent of Schools Lynn Mackey said in a statement. “This is a unique and challenging time to be a teacher and these teachers represent the great work taking place across our county. And, we would like to thank our 13 TOY application judges, who volunteered numerous hours of their time in carefully reviewing and evaluating the applications. All of the judges agreed that this was an excellent field of well-deserving teachers.”