Michelle Wilson, an English teacher at San Ramon's Dougherty Valley High School, has been recognized as one of four finalists in the 2021-22 Contra Costa County Teacher of the Year program, being honored for her exemplary dedication to education.
Announced by Contra Costa County Superintendent of Schools Lynn Mackey earlier this month, Wilson will now compete to become one of the county's top two Teachers of the Year -- with the winners of that program going on to represent the county in the state Teacher of the Year competition.
"Teaching is a solitary art. You know you leave an impact on students, but these impacts are victories contained within your classroom or in an email or thank-you letter you get sometimes years after a student has graduated. It's not often that teachers are recognized in the community at large, so to receive this kind of recognition is such an unexpected gift," Wilson told DanvilleSanRamon.com.
"But perhaps more than that, I feel a sense of responsibility, both to represent the inspirational and talented educators here at DVHS and in SRVUSD and to use this as a platform to speak to ways we can make our educational system even better for all students," she added.
Each finalist was selected from the 20 Teacher of the Year winners within 15 school districts in Contra Costa County, Contra Costa Community College District and the Contra Costa County Office of Education.
The San Ramon Valley Unified School District's other Teacher of the Year this year, Patricia Facteau form Golden View Elementary School in San Ramon, did not advance in the county competition. SRVUSD gets to submit two nominees to the county due to its size.
The other three county finalists are Alisha Douglass, a ceramics teacher at Liberty High School in Brentwood; Kristen Plant, an English teacher at Miramonte High School in Orinda; and Christina Zenzano, an English teacher at Rancho Medanos Junior High School in Pittsburg.
"It is my pleasure to congratulate the four finalists on the honor of being named one of the county's top teachers," Mackey said. "All of the professional educators who are being considered for this prestigious award are to be commended and thanked for their professionalism and leadership, especially throughout this pandemic. These four are prominent examples of the great work teachers throughout the county have done over the last year."
SRVUSD's Secondary Teacher of the Year, Wilson began her career as an educator 20 years ago as a high school English teacher in Manteca. After teaching in Stockton and at Campolindo High School, she transferred to San Ramon's Dougherty Valley in 2010, where she also teaches Advanced Placement language and composition.
County officials added that Wilson also received the Yale University Educator Award in 2013 and has been a presenter at several professional development sessions for her colleagues.
"Within minutes of meeting Michelle, it is abundantly clear that you are in the presence of someone who is warm, excited, eager, and passionate. She exudes this energy around students as well, so it is no wonder that kids lucky enough to land on her roster find themselves falling in love with English class and leaving with a deeper understanding of themselves as readers, writers, critical thinkers, and individuals within society," fellow Dougherty Valley English teacher Rachael Hernandez said in a letter of support for Wilson.
"Though Michelle's job on paper says that she is an English teacher, students in her class know that they will get far more than mere English curriculum out of a year-long experience with Mrs. Wilson. She pushes students to think outside the box, to make meaningful connections to what concepts she is teaching with what is going on in the real world, regularly helping students see that what they learn in school often has far-reaching effects beyond the four walls of a school building," Hernandez added.
The Teacher of the Year finalists and candidates from each of the school districts, county office and community college district will be honored at a virtual gala on Sept. 23.
Read more about other county Teacher of the Year nominees online at www.cccoe.k12.ca.us.