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Martinez Environmental Educator Named Teacher of the Year

Dr. Rona Zollinger of Vicente Martinez High School has won the Teacher of the Year award for Contra Costa County. No teachers from Concord were in the running. Why?

Martinez high school teacher Dr. Rona Zollinger was recognized as the Contra Costa County Teacher of the Year in a roomful of her peers at an awards ceremony in Concord last Thursday.

Zollinger, co-founder of "New Leaf: A Sustainable Living Cooperative" at Vicente Martinez High School, has been teaching her environmental studies academy course for 11 years. 

The course got a major boost in 2009 with a grant from Contra Costa Mental Health Services to expand the program, formerly known as the Environmental Studies Academy.

"Each day I walk in the footsteps of people who offer their hearts and their personal time toward the ideals of creating a healthy schools, community, and land," she said. "I am honored to be among them and serve as a voice for a collective vision of sustainability and innovation."

"Rona brings a true passion and a talent for the art and science of teaching," said Rami Muth, Superintendent of the Martinez Unified School District. 'One of Rona’s main gifts is her ability to bring together people with diverse perspectives and work for a common goal. She is truly an exceptional educator and well deserving of this special recognition." 

Zollinger was selected from a group of 21 teachers from throughout the county who were named Teachers of the Year in their own districts. There were three finalists selected from that group — the other two were from San Ramon and Moraga. She will now compete with other county representatives at a statewide Teacher of the Year competition.

There were no finalists from Concord in this year's Teacher of the Year competition. Why do you think that was? Do you know a teacher who should have been nominated? Share your thoughts in the comments.

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