2 Grossmont High School Teachers Named Winners in Inaugural "I'm Thankful For My Teacher" Award

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San Diego County teachers recognized with thousands of "thank yous" from grateful parents, schoolchildren in contest sponsored by Mission Federal Credit Union, Junior Achievement, Cox Communications and Channel 4

December 18,2008 (San Diego, CA) Campaign organizers are proud to announce the winners of the first-ever "I'm Thankful For My Teacher" Contest, hosted by Mission Federal Credit Union, Junior Achievement of San Diego, and Cox Communications and Channel 4 San Diego. Throughout the month of November, thousands of students throughout San Diego County took the opportunity to thank a teacher for all of the special things they do in their mission to educate local students and future generations. More than 3,850 postcards were turned in to recognize hundreds of teachers at 136 schools throughout San Diego County.

Through the contest, local parents and students answered one simple question:Why are you thankful for your teacher?  Students shared their appreciation for the teachers in their lives, recognizing them for their hard work, dedication, enthusiasm and willingness to go the extra mile. The contest was open to honor teachers who teach kindergarten through twelfth grade at any public, private or home school within the borders of San Diego County. All postcards will be delivered to all teachers to read and save as a keepsake from their students.

Six teachers, two from each school level, received the most postcards. These top winning teachers are (in alphabetical order):

  • Allen Brooks, San Elijo Middle School (San Marcos/Grade 8)
  • Carol Kawamoto, Kellogg Elementary School (Chula Vista/Grade 5)
  • Karen Manns, Grossmont High School (La Mesa/Grade 10)
  • Adrian Pearson, Grossmont High School (La Mesa/Grade 9)
  • Celia Ramirez, Chavez Elementary School (San Diego/All Grades)
  • Jill Rockwell, San Elijo Middle School (San Marcos/Grade 6)

The students in the class of these top six winning teachers will receive a gift card for classroom party or field trip of their choice and the invaluable gift of Junior Achievement's award-winning financial education curriculum taught in their classroom, compliments of Mission Federal Credit Union. The winning teachers can pamper themselves too, as they each receive a Westfield Shoppingtown gift card valued at $175 to reward themselves for all their hard work throughout the school year.

Ten additional teachers from around the county received Honorable Mentions, and were selected by the event organizers for their extraordinary dedication and commitment to their students as reflected in the volume and sentiments expressed in the student postcards. These teachers are (in alphabetical order):

  • Joe Anthony, Dingeman Elementary School (San Diego/All Grades/Technology)
  • Cindy Barron, Ocean View Hills Elementary School (San Ysidro/Grade 6)
  • Karen Brand, Crawford High School (San Diego/Grade 12)
  • Maria Dias, Ocean View Hills Elementary School (San Ysidro/Grade 5)
  • Pat Howell-Schmidt, Hage Elementary School (San Diego/Grades 2 & 4 /Language)
  • Stephen Keiley, Monarch School (San Diego/Grade 5)
  • Liz Kuttler, Flora Vista Elementary School (Encinitas/Grades K-3 /Special Education Program)
  • Rochelle Schwartz, Dingeman Elementary School (San Diego/Grade 5 / Focused on Community Service)
  • Lori West, Rincon Middle School (Escondido/Grades 6, 7, 8 / Physical Education)
  • Connie Willis, Horizon Christian Elementary School (San Diego/Grade 4)

Teachers who were recognized in the Honorable Mention Award category will receive a Visa gift card from Mission Federal, along with the recognition that they are among San Diego's finest teachers.

Because of the immense support by the public for this first-time campaign, event organizers created a new category, the School Spirit Award, to honor the schools whose students submitted the most postcards  (in alphabetical order):

  • Crawford High School (San Diego)
  • Dingeman Elementary School (San Diego)
  • El Toyan Elementary School (National City)
  • Grossmont High School (La Mesa)
  • Jerabek Elementary School (San Diego)
  • Rancho de la Nacion Elementary School (National City)

Schools honored in the School Spirit Award Category will receive a $200 donation for their school, compliments of Mission Federal Credit Union.

Mission Federal Credit Union, Junior Achievement of San Diego, Cox Communications and Cox-owned Channel 4 San Diego partnered to organize and sponsor this groundbreaking initiative. "The 'I'm Thankful For My Teacher' initiative was extremely timely, given that California is suffering the harshest educational budget crisis in state history", says Tricia Link, vice president of communications and community relations, Mission Federal Credit Union. "We are proud to create a way for parents and schoolchildren to honor these deserving teachers in such a meaningful way."

"As the organization responsible for tallying up the winning postcards, it was inspiring to see how many students were compelled to participate; San Diego teachers are making a significant impact on our local youth", says Tara Michener, vice president of development, Junior Achievement of San Diego County.

"Cox Communications enjoyed partnering in this important campaign", says Amy Berry, community relations manager, Cox Communications San Diego. "Teachers play a very important role in shaping the futures of children of our community, and they deserve to be recognized and rewarded for their outstanding commitment to their students."

Due to the impressive response from students and parents, event organizers are already hoping to host the campaign again in 2009.

For more information, visit www.jasandiego.org.org.

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