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Alisal USD honors teachers of the year

The Alisal USD is fortunate to have fantastic teachers among its ranks. As we wrap up the uniquely challenging 2019-20 school year, we want to celebrate some of the most dedicated among them. We celebrate each and one of them and thank them for their dedication to our students. 

Alisal Community School Teacher of the Year

Janice Keszler - Fourth grade

Ms. Keszler is an awesome teacher. She makes sure children perform well not just academically, but also emotionally. She has set up her classroom to address all the students needs; she goes beyond the call of duty with many exciting projects. The amount of time and effort she puts in to ensure kids are safe and they're learning is inspiring. Those little things she does show how much she cares for them.  

Bardin Elementary Teacher of the Year

Ben Cogswell -- Kindergarten

Inside and outside the classroom, Mr. Cogswell has always distinguished himself as an energetic, committed and creative educator who’s always willing to go above and beyond for his students. During the pandemic, he has consistently reached out to most of his students not just through his daily synchronous classes, but also through reading nights, livecams for caterpillars turning into butterflies and ant farms. He is always eager to share his knowledge with his students and the world and that’s why he’s always sharing all his lessons on social media.* Mr. Cogswell was also selected Alisal USD Teacher of the Year. 

Cesar E. Chavez Teacher of the Year

Maria Herrera - Third grade

As a high-performing 3rd grade teacher, Ms. Herrera has the California Common Core State Standards as a focus and target of excellence and expectation for all  of her students.  She does not accept mediocrity and pushes her students to excel in academics.  She is a well respected teacher that collaborates with her colleagues, parents and administrators.  Ms. Herrera focuses on what’s best for her students' future. This will be Ms. Herrera’s last year in the District as she is retiring. 

Creekside Elementary Teacher of the Year

Elena Clemente - Second grade

Ms. Clemente  values diversity by welcoming diverse students. She holds them to high expectations yet provides the academic and emotional support they need. Mrs. Clemente is a doer.  She is part of the School Learning Team at Creekside Elementary, ATA Union Rep, Literacy Committee, Mentor Teacher, and Ed Tech Liaison.


Frank Paul Elementary Teacher of the Year

Cecilia Moreno Mares -- Second grade

Ms. Moreno Mares goes beyond her teaching duties.  She is a compassionate teacher who always leads by example, never complains, and always looks for a positive passway no matter the situation.  She truly cares about her community, colleagues, and most of all students. Her dedication goes beyond the 6-hour day in the classroom: she works with migrant students during the summer, and on Saturdays she coaches sports. She is, like they say, a teacher at heart. 

Fremont Teacher of the Year

Molly Healy -- 

Ms. Healy readily transitioned to core standards' instruction after teaching the System 44 program. Ms. Healy effectively incorporated both ELA common core standards with our STORM instructional strategies to enhance student learning. Additionally, Ms. Healy has been the  site's lead PBIS committee member-planning school-wide events for our students as means of incentivizing and celebrating their positive behavior at school. Lastly, she is a true collaborator and will seek staff input and put it into action in advancing our school-wide initiatives.


Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Academy Teacher of the Year

Maria Valladares - Instructional Coach

Not only is Mrs. Valladares is well versed, and knowledgeable in areas of the curriculum; she is also a compassionate individual who demonstrates great sensitivity when dealing with our at-risk students, and assisting our English Learners. Mrs. Valladares has also taken on several leadership roles.  She has previously served as a Teacher Representative on the School Site Council, as well as the main lead on our district Instructional Leadership Team, and helped lead our site during many professional development days.


Dr. Oscar F. Loya Teacher of the Year

Rosa Mejia -- Third grade

Mrs. Mejia is always willing to go beyond her call of duty for student safety and academic achievement.  Her positive charisma contributes positively to our school culture.  She is always seeking ways to grow professionally.  She is part of our Instructional Leadership Team, school-wide committees, and has attended the Chulavista Learning Walk, where she was able to observe and learn more about Write up a STORM strategies, accountability, data analysis, and much more.  Mrs. Mejia has demonstrated commitment to our students by spending numerous hours in learning in depth all Common Core Grade Level Standards, curriculum, and students’ needs.  


Virginia Rocca Barton Teacher of the Year

Lorena Lopez - Sixth grade

Ms. Lopez has demonstrated her remarkable teaching skills in a number of ways. She implemented VRB's writing strategies in her classroom successfully. She followed a teaching cycle that included checking for understanding and always reflected on her students’ on-demand writing as data points to better her instruction along the way.   She has wonderful classroom management and teaches her students within their zone of proximal development.  Once Remote Instruction began, she met with her students daily to teach mathematics and check-in on their well being.  Ms. Lopez pushed out rigorous writing assignments and always communicated with parents and her students.  She collaborates with her peers and has always been an integral part of the VRB staff.

Jesse G. Sanchez Teacher of the Year

Norma Padilla - Kindergarten

Kindergarten Teacher Norma Padilla has been an indispensable part of connecting the community and parents to Jesse G. Sanchez Elementary School in various ways. She is exceptional in reaching out to and connecting with our parent population, and consistently has one of the highest averages of parent participation in all school-related events. During the recent school closures due to Covide-19, her ability to adapt to new technologies and different ways of teaching were instrumental in teaching her Kindergarteners. She was already using online platforms with her students prior to remote instruction, and simply soared with providing quality activities and direct standards-based instruction through various platforms with ease. Mrs. Padilla is a natural leader who also blends humility with tenacity to meet the needs of all of her students and create the solid foundation needed for future learning.

John E. Steinbeck Teacher of the Year

Kerry Neville -- Fourth grade

 Mrs. Neville has been a teacher overall for twelve years and at Steinbeck teaching 4th grade for five years.  During her tenure at Steinbeck, Kerry has made huge gains every year dealing with student achievement. She is an exceptional teacher for many reasons in creating and building strong relationships with her students. She has a wonderful growth mindset with her students.  She also works well with students who deal with exceptional learning.  She utilizes many effective instructional strategies and analyzes her data to plan rigorous lessons to drive student comprehension and success.  She is a team player, one who is involved with ILT Committee, Union Representative, PBIS Tier I and II Committees and has served on various district committees.  She has piloted various programs at our school site.  She is well liked amongst the staff and faculty.  It is an honor to nominate Mrs. Kerry Neville as our Teacher of The Year at John E. Steinbeck.

Monte Bella Elementary Teacher of the Year

Pam Clark - Second Grade

Ms. Clark has spent 24 years with 11 years in a Bilingual classroom in the Alisal Union School District, and she has touched many lives.  She has impacted many students throughout her teaching career and has built relationships with the parents of our community. Mrs. Clark supports her peers by her leadership as the union rep for the school, participates on the committee for School Site Council, and is always open to step in to assist in any way she can.  She always provides opportunities for service to others and is passionate about her students learning and their personal growth.  Her encouragement for academic achievement shows her dedication to her students.  Mrs. Clark is one of the first people to arrive at the school, and the last to leave.  She is a team player and an advocate for all.  I consider Mrs. Clark a life-long learner.  As she retires this year she will be missed for her kindness, empathy, and values to see all students succeed.