California Educator

November / December 2016

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Best of the Best The 2017 California Teachers of the Year I N C L U S I O N . C O M PA S S I O N . I N N O VAT I O N . e five outstanding educators selected as 2017 Cal- ifornia Teachers of the Year all demonstrate these qualities. Several have overcome difficult life circumstances to rise to the top of their profession. "ese inspiring and innovative teachers enrich the lives of our students while helping them to succeed in 21st century careers and college," said state Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson in announcing the winners in October. "ese teachers represent the best of their profession and serve as great examples." Each year, county offices of education nominate educators through county-level competitions. A state selection committee reviews candidates and conducts school site visits. e California Department of Education conducts interviews with candidates before the state superintendent selects five winners. is year's honorees will be feted at a gala in February. Congratulations! Jenny Chien Anderson teaches sci- ence, technology, engineering and math (STEM) to K-5 students at Casita Center for Technology, Science and Math, Vista Unified, San Diego County. She has been teaching for nine years. A self- described learning experience designer, she pulls resources from various avenues to remix and refine lessons to create personalized and relevant experiences that focus on each student's interests. " The value of education rests on how educators shape the young minds of tomorrow," she says. "By focusing on their strengths, interests and values through a personalized approach, students feel empowered to take action to make an impact in the world." She teaches a fourth-grade journalism class, where students produce a morning newscast, and runs a flexible learning space called the Design, Research, Engineering, Arts, Mathematics and Science (DREAMS) lab, where students learn how to code and engage in design challenges aligned to the new state stan- dards. Educators all over the county are modeling their STEM labs after the DREAMS lab. Shaun S. Bunn teaches eighth-grade math at Ethan A. Chase Middle School, Menifee, Romoland School District, Riverside County. Born in Cambodia, Bunn and his family had to flee the country 's civil war. He remembers dodging gunfire and land mines in the jungle while his family sought safety in Thai refugee camps. These experiences, along with growing up in poverty as an English learner, have led Bunn to lead with passion and compassion for students from all types of backgrounds. Bunn has been teaching for 11 years, 10 in his current position. He shares his personal struggles to be successful and how perseverance diminished those struggles, saying he wants his students to see him as human. "Sometimes, the best lesson that kids learn from us is not subject matter, but something much deeper, more profound — kindness and caring," he says. " These life lessons can only be genuinely taught from unpredict- able moments. Unpredictable moments can also turn challenges into teachable opportunities." JENNY CHIEN ANDERSON Vista Teachers Association, K-5 STEM teacher SHAUN S. BUNN Romoland Teachers Association, eighth-grade math teacher 50 CTA & You

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