Teachers of the Year Finalists Announced
- May 3, 2023
Kern High School District economics/math/CTE teacher Brian Devitt, Delano Union School District 6th grade special education teacher Yazmin Herrera, and Southern Kern Unified School District English teacher Veronica Karr have been named 2023 Kern County Teachers of the Year finalists. The selections were announced this evening at a reception sponsored by Valley Strong Credit Union held at CSU Bakersfield. In all, 56 Kern County teachers were nominated for the honor.
The three finalists are now eligible to apply for the California Teacher of the Year program. The two most competitive applications as determined by the Kern County Teacher of the Year Selection Committee will be submitted to the California Department of Education (CDE) to be considered for the California Teacher of the Year honor.
Congratulations to this year’s finalists:
Kern High School District
Stockdale High School
AP Microeconomics, CP Economics, Algebra 1, Financial Services, Virtual Enterprise
Brian Devitt has been a teacher in the Kern High School District for 19 years and his influence and impact can be seen in almost every area of the Stockdale High School campus. He is a member of three different departments, teaching AP Microeconomics, CP Economics, Algebra 1 and Virtual Enterprise, all while serving as the active department chair of Career Technical Education (CTE). In addition to his instructional responsibilities, Brian serves in an administrative role for two class periods helping staff with technology issues, assisting with discipline, running the truancy program, and supervising testing on campus.
Brian believes his role as a teacher is to personalize the content so each student, regardless of their background and ability, can find a way to apply the content to their life or have a vision for how it will impact their life in the future. Brian describes one of his greatest accomplishments in education to date as leading the Virtual Enterprise students at Stockdale High School. Under his leadership, Stockdale High School’s Virtual Enterprise team ranked nationally in 2019, 2021, 2022, and 2023 and ranked 3rd in state in 2020. This past April, Brian took the Business Plan, Marketing and Finance team to compete in New York City.
Delano Union School District
Almond Tree Middle School
6th Grade Special Education
Yazmin Herrera has been a special education teacher for the Delano Union School District for 11 years. She is a leader among her peers and a skillful practitioner. Yazmin’s teaching responsibilities are unique as she is a 6th grade special education teacher who partners with two general education teachers in a co-teaching team. In addition to co-teaching, she also teaches reading, writing, and math for special education students who are not yet ready to be mainstreamed into the co-teaching setting. She intentionally and strategically creates a structured and welcoming environment designed to set each student up for success.
Yazmin’s love and inspiration for teaching began as a 6th grade student, when she had a teacher who provided a learning experience where Yazmin felt seen, safe, welcomed, inspired, and challenged. It was an experience she would always treasure and strives to provide for her own students today. Her teaching philosophy is based on the premise that all students are unique and have the potential to learn and grow if they are provided with a loving and stimulating educational environment.
Southern Kern Unified School District
Rosamond High Early College Campus
Veronica Karr has been an English teacher for 25 years, in middle and high school classrooms. Veronica has been a consistent leader, inside the classroom and within the larger educational community. With a desire to prevent first-year isolation for others new to the profession, Veronica became a mentor teacher providing support and resources for new teachers throughout the district. As English Department chair, Veronica has worked to change the department culture from one of teacher isolation to one of collaboration, providing opportunities to share learning and resources and ultimately leading to what she feels is one of her greatest accomplishments — restoring the school library.
Veronica has worked to create a learning environment that reflects her core values which center around reading, writing, critical thinking, building relationships, and creating lifelong learners. She is reflective and innovative, making adjustments to support students’ learning needs based upon the foundational concept that student choice is paramount for the 21st-century diverse learner and critical thinking in global conversations.