Fifth-grade teacher Carissa
Sugden is one of four finalists in Contra Costa County who are in the
running for the 2013-2014 Teacher of the Year award.
Sugden teaches at El Monte Elementary School in Concord, California.
"It feels great," she said, when asked how she felt about making it to the county level in the Teacher of the Year competition.
"It's been a lot of work," she said. "But it's also been an opportunity to reflect on my teaching philosophy, think about what I'd like to continue to do, and what I can do differently," she said.
Sugden won the Teacher of the Year competition at the district level in April 2013 and advanced to the county level.
The most exciting part of the competition for her was the chance to meet other teachers and talk to them about their educational strategies. "In education, you are always learning, always learning the latest strategies to reach kids in the classrooms." She said she thoroughly enjoys exploring the latest ways to reach out to students and communicate with their families.
Although she has met many people during her career, she found her mentor Linn Kissinger on campus.
"Linn is a phenomenal teacher," Sugden said. "She was calm, purposeful, and has a logical way of handling classroom situations," she said, noting that she particularly admired the teaching environment Kissinger created. Kissinger is now the principal of Ygnacio Valley Elementary.
El Monte Elementary School's Principal Christina Boman said this award is beyond a public honor.
“This is an affirmation
for a teacher who goes above and beyond in the classroom,” Boman said.
She said Sugden is "amazing."
In her spare time, Sugden leads the school’s karaoke club, which has performed in Todos Santos Plaza and at teachers’ union events. She is also the educational institution’s after-school coordinator.
Her classroom features peer teaching, literature circles, and a lot of collaborative group work.
The Teacher of the Year Program began in 1972 as a way for California to recognize outstanding public school teachers, according to the Contra Costa County Office of Education, which manages curriculums for more than 168,000 students. Since 1972, four Contra Costa County teachers have been named state Teacher of the Year.
All 22 teachers who were nominated for the award will gather at the Hilton hotel in Concord, California on September 26,2013 to hear who was chosen to receive the honor of representing the county at the state level.