Teachers of the Year Announced
6th grade teacher Germaine “Gigi” Maurer from Juliet Thorner Elementary School in Bakersfield and 3rd grade teacher Valerie Perez from Browning Road STEAM Academy in McFarland were honored this evening as the 2018-19 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, Flor Gonzalez, a kindergarten teacher at Nueva Vista Language Academy in Delano, was also selected in the event that one of the finalists is unable to apply for the state competition.
The selections were announced at a reception hosted by the Kern County Superintendent of Schools (KCSOS) at the Bakersfield Museum of Art to honor the 52 Kern County teachers nominated for the award by their schools and districts. A committee of educators and community leaders reviewed all the applications. Recent site visits were made to the top candidates’ schools. All 52 nominees received plaques and certificates.
California Department of Education (CDE) sponsors the annual California Teacher of the Year program. Local sponsors include the California Retired Teachers Association-Kern County Division, Kern Schools Federal Credit Union, and Colombo Construction Company, Inc., with special acknowledgment to the Bakersfield Museum of Art.
Germaine “Gigi” Maurer (FINALIST)
Bakersfield City School District
Dr. Juliet Thorner Elementary
After 29 years in the profession, Gigi Maurer still loves to teach. She loves to build relationships with her students, loves executing a perfect lesson and reflecting on the ones that “went a little south,” and loves having high expectations and having students exceed them. Gigi is a professional development provider, mentor for new teachers in the district, is the grade level chairperson at her school site and a coach of championship student teams in Oral Language and National History Day competitions.
Every day, Gigi teaches to inspire her students to reach beyond their own expectations, to push past what’s comfortable, and to achieve confidence on all areas.
Valerie Perez (FINALIST)
McFarland Unified School District
Browning Road STEAM Academy
Valerie Perez’s philosophy of teaching is centered on one simple question she asks herself daily: “Am I the type of teacher I would want for my own children?” She knows her students love learning when it occurs in a hands-on, engaging way, and is connected to the real world. So, she strives to ensure her classroom reflects a true 21st century learning experience by incorporating science, technology, engineering, arts and math (STEAM) so that students gain opportunities to connect their skills in a much more engaging way with real world applications. Utilizing DonorsChoose, Valerie’s classroom has had over 20 innovative STEAM projects funded and she was a national semi-finalist in the Farmers Insurance Dream Big Teacher Challenge (the only one from California) vying for a $100,000 educational grant.
Flor Gonzalez (ALTERNATE)
Kindergarten, Dual Immersion-Spanish
Delano Union School District
Nueva Vista Language Academy
Flor Gonzalez is an instructional leader who is passionate about her service to the students of Nueva Vista Language Academy. Having grown up as a student in bilingual education, Flor knows what it is like firsthand to learn a second language and overcome many obstacles. Because she remembers where she started and can see her own experiences reflected in her teaching, she can relate to the challenges her students face as second language learners. Every year, when Flor welcomes a new cohort of students to her dual immersion Kindergarten classroom, students enter with varying levels and experiences. Flor’s goal is to level the playing field for her students, providing scaffolds for those who need them and challenging every student to keep advancing, so that by the end of the year they are all ready for first grade. Flor’s ambition for her students is to use language as a tool for success.