Kern County's Teachers of the Year
May 23, 2020
Third grade teacher Wajeha Chaudhry, from Loudon Elementary School, and 7th grade English teacher Nicole Negron, from Sierra Middle School, have been named the 2019-20 Kern County Teachers of the Year. The finalists are now eligible to apply to move on to the California State Teachers of the Year program later in the year. An alternate, Joseph Andreotti, an 8th grade History/Social Science at Lakeside School, was also selected in the event that one of the finalists is unable to apply for the state competition.
Normally, Teachers of the Year are announced at an in-person celebration at the Bakersfield Museum of Art, but due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the physical event was cancelled. A committee of educators and community leaders reviewed all of the applications. In lieu of classroom visits to the top candidates' schools, top candidates were interviewed via Zoom. The two Teachers of the Year received a cash award of $500, while the alternate received $250. All 54 district honorees will receive desktop awards and certificates.
As part of the celebration, all 54 Teacher of the Year district honorees were honored this week through a series of videos posted on http://www.kern.org, on KCSOS's social media platforms, and on the Kern Educational Television Network (KETN), Spectrum Ch. 15 in Bakersfield.
"While we were unable to gather in one location to celebrate the district honorees this year, we felt strongly that it was important that we continued the celebration in this new format," said Malaika Bryant, director of Educator Development & Data Support at KCSOS. "The opportunity to honor and celebrate these teachers who represent Excellence in Teaching takes on additional significance in these unprecedented times."
California Department of Education (CDE) sponsors the annual California Teacher of the Year program. The program is sponsored locally by Valley Strong Credit Union and Point Loma Nazarene University.
Wajeha Chaudhry (FINALIST) Panama-Buena Vista Union School District Loudon Elementary School 3rd Grade
Chaudhry uses the power of technology to read to her students at night before they go to bed. During the school year, Chaudhry invites "celebrity readers" to help engage her students and promote daily reading either in the classroom or in videos on her YouTube channel. She says the videos are making a difference for her students one story at a time. During this school year, The Bakersfield Californian, KGET, KERO and KBAK have all published stories about the wonderful things Chaudhry is accomplishing for students. Above all, her kindness and love for her students makes her an outstanding teacher.
Nicole Negron (FINALIST) Bakersfield City School District Sierra Middle School 7th Grade English, Literacy Leadership and Video production
Negron is dedicated to the whole child, and her efforts with the students in her class have led to many children reaching out and getting the emotional support they need due to current or past traumas. Students open up to her and share vulnerabilities they would not normally share with an adult. Her openness and non-judgmental approach is the definition of inclusion. This is not to say that academically she is weak. Just the contrary. She maintains high standards for her students to achieve at high levels. Not only do her colleagues and students respect her work, the parents of her students do as well. Negron is a leader on campus with students, parents and staff, she is an all-around superstar!
Joseph Andreotti (ALTERNATE) Lakeside Union School District Lakeside School 8th Grade History Social Science
Andreotti is a caring teacher who demonstrates a strong advocacy and compassion for children. He shows a sincere interest in all his students and expresses concern and care for each one of them. Student academic success is a focus for this teacher. Andreotti excels at having high student engagement, and creating an atmosphere where student discipline is nearly nonexistent. He is a leader who ensures that teacher collaboration meetings result in great teaching ideas that help students.