San Ramon Valley Unified School District educators have swept the 2020-2021 Contra Costa County Teacher of the Year awards, with Live Oak Elementary School's Sarah Clancy and Stone Valley Middle School's Courtney Konopacky being selected as the count's top two teachers.
Officially announced on Tuesday, Clancy and Konopacky have been selected for their exceptional dedication to education and are now eligible to represent Contra Costa County in the Californian State Teacher of the Year Competition -- with the winner of that program scheduled to be announced in mid-October.
“I am proud to be joining a school district where the high quality of instruction creates an environment in which students of all abilities have an opportunity to succeed. Educators like Courtney and Sarah set the standard to which we all aspire,” incoming SRVUSD Superintendent Dr. John Malloy said in a statement. “The learner-centered environments that they have created represent the best of education, not only in California, but beyond, and I congratulate them on this honor.”
A teacher at Live Oak Elementary in San Ramon, SRVUSD officials have said that Clancy has been a leader in promoting mental health initiatives, often leading mindfulness activities during staff meetings.
She is a member of the CARE Leadership team, where she focuses on improving the mental and emotional health of the community by emphasizing the importance of social emotional learning to Live Oak families.
“Mrs. Clancy is instrumental in implementing both Sanford Harmony and No Place for Hate programs at Live Oak," said current Live Oak PTA President Smitha Swamy. “She models what she teaches and inspires the students to be a gracious leader. Over the years that I have interacted with Mrs. Clancy, I have only heard her say positive comments, no matter how difficult the situation. She is an educator who inspires not only her students but the parents as well. Mrs. Clancy’s Leadership skills reflect a strong, positive, persevering, and kind spirit.”
Also recognized by the county for her exemplary example of education, Konopacky has been a positive fixture at Alamo's Stone Valley for the past 17 years, currently serving as an eighth grade core teacher.
She has been a Core 8 Teacher and site teacher leader for most of her career and currently, serves as a teacher on special assignment for Social Studies Curriculum Development and Coaching.
“Courtney Konopacky is an innovative educator who genuinely cares about students and families,” Stone Valley Principal Justin White said. “She digs in when students present signs of academic struggle and provides reteaching and reassessment on all essential skills. Courtney believes it is a moral imperative to make sure that students have an in-depth understanding of critical skills that are needed to be successful. She continues to push her teaching design and delivery so that she can provide a top-notch educational experience for all students.”
County officials say that due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the CCCOE will be foregoing its traditional Teacher of the Year celebration Gala Dinner in favour of a safer, virtual option. Details for that event will be released in the near future according to CCCOE officials, who added that all 22 Contra Costa County Teacher of the Year nominees will be celebrated at the event.
This is only the third time that the two county TOYs came from the same school district, according to the Contra Costa County Office of Education. In the 1979-1980 school year both Joseph Hipple and Ann Rowe represented the Mt. Diablo Unified School District and in 2018-2019 Kelly Perkins and California State TOY Rosie Reed also represented the Mt. Diablo Unified School District.
The SRVUSD won the State Teacher of the Year award once before, in 1999 when California High School's William Everett Pence took home the award for his work in science.
“Congratulations to our county’s newest Teachers of the Year,” Contra Costa County Superintendent of Schools Lynn Mackey said in a statement. “This is a unique and challenging time to be an educator and these teachers represent the great work taking place across our county."
"We would like to thank our 28 volunteer TOY judges who carefully reviewed and evaluated this year’s TOY applications, interviews, and speech presentations. The newest TOYs are excellent representatives of all our tremendous Contra Costa teachers. And, we wish them the best of luck as they go on and represent us in the California State TOY Program,” she added.