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Five Educators Honored as San Diego County Teachers of the Year.

SAN DIEGO -- Five local educators selected from a field of 44 nominees were named San Diego County Teachers of the Year during the 19th annual "Cox Presents: A Salute to Teachers brought to you by Ashford University" in cooperation with the San Diego County Office of Education. The sold-out annual event honored San Diego County's public school teachers and was televised live on Channel 4 San Diego from the Balboa Theater in downtown San Diego.

The 2009-10 San Diego County Teachers of the Year are:

* Donna Farquar, District English Learner Resource Teacher (Santee School District)

* Kelly Kovacic, The Preuss School UCSD (San Diego Unified School District)

* Mike Love, Mt. Miguel High School (Grossmont Union High School District)

* Eric Mabrey, Olympian High School (Sweetwater Union High School District)

* Melanie Tolan, Sarah Anthony School (San Diego County Office of Education)

The five teachers of the year will go on to represent San Diego County in the California Teacher of the Year program, which will be announced later this year. Nominees for San Diego County Teacher of the Year were selected by their school districts based on student achievement, teaching philosophy, familiarity with current issues in education and community involvement.

Donna Farquar, District English Learner Resource Teacher (Santee School District) An English language development teacher at the Santee Elementary School District Educational Resource Center, Donna Farquar works toward getting her students reclassified as Fluent English Proficient students. She can be found working with the district's nine schools and students from kindergarten through 8th grade whose first language ranges from Spanish and Russian to Kurdish and Arabic. Farquar uses her own second-language learner experience she had as an adult teaching abroad in Brazil and Hong Kong to help her students overcome their anxiety and apprehension of not being English proficient.

Kelly Kovacic, The Preuss School UCSD (San Diego Unified School District) A social studies teacher for 11th and 12th graders, Kovacic doesn't just teach her students about the Great Depression and other historical events - she encourages them to analyze, reflect and discuss the topics. All of her students live below the poverty level, so it's common for Kovacic's students to relate their personal experiences to what they're learning in class, such as Cesar Chavez's account of being six years old and watching his family lose their home to foreclosure.

Mike Love, Mt. Miguel High School (Grossmont Union High School District) Love has been a math teacher at Mount Miguel High School in Spring Valley for 15 years where much of his career has been spent preparing under-served and under-represented students for college through the AVID program. Love was instrumental in Mount Miguel becoming the first high school in the nation to have a chapter of the Student African-American Brotherhood, a naturally chartered program that promotes leadership, self-discipline and intellectual development in young men of all backgrounds. Love says that he is not just a math teacher. He is a life skills teacher, a philosopher, a psychologist, a father figure, and a stand-up comedian in his classroom because all of those roles play an important part in his ability to connect with his students.

Eric Mabrey, Olympian High School (Sweetwater Union High School District) A 20-year teaching veteran, Mabrey is an instrumental and choral music teacher in the same district where he attended school. He draws on his experiences as a student in a diverse cultural community to connect and relate to his students. Well known in the music educational community for consistently having performing groups that score at the top during festivals and competitions, Mabrey used his musical talents to compose the Alma Mater and Fight Song for Olympian High School.

Melanie Tolan, Sarah Anthony School (San Diego County Office of Education) Melanie Tolan's students are all male, ages 15 and 16, and are in Juvenile Hall. Less than 24 hours after being booked, they enter Tolan's classroom at the Sarah Anthony School, located inside San Diego's Juvenile Hall. Tolan emphasizes to her students that hers is a real classroom and a safe haven for learning. Students soon learn that her curriculum is not "dumbed-down" because they are in Juvenile Hall. They are challenged to write poetry, use technology to create presentations, improve their math skills, and make her honor roll. Because her students are not allowed to leave Juvenile Hall, Tolan brings field trips to them by bringing in community speakers and organizations.

Rounding out the 10 finalists are: Jennifer Eckle, Vista Magnet Middle School (Vista Unified School District); Bill Freeman, Walter J Porter Elementary (San Diego Unified School District); Arlene Gapusan, Black Mountain Middle School (Poway Unified School District); Yvonne Fojtasek, San Elijo Elementary School (San Marcos Unified School District); and Diana Souther, Valley Center Primary School (Valley Center-Pauma Unified School District).

"Cox Presents: A Salute to Teachers" will replay on Channel 4 San Diego on Sun., Oct. 11 at 8:30 p.m.; Sat., Oct, 17 at 9 p.m.; Sat., Oct. 24 at 7 p.m.; and Sat., Nov. 7 at 6 p.m. Time Warner also will carry the show live and all replays, and ITV will replay the show on Fri., Oct 16 at 7 p.m.; Sat., Oct 24 at 5:30 p.m.; and Thurs., Oct 29 at 6 p.m.
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Publication:Business Wire
Date:Oct 11, 2009
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