LOS ANGELES, Calif.–Ten women and six men were recognized today as the “best of the best” among Los Angeles County’s nearly 75,000 K-12 public school educators.

Three Los Angeles Unified School District teachers made the cut. The others teach in Arcadia, Azusa, Bellflower, Burbank, Castaic, Palmdale, East Whittier, Manhattan Beach, Norwalk, San Marino and Torrance.

The winners span all grade levels and school subjects, and their experience levels vary widely.

West Adams Preparatory High School calculus teacher Rachel Haserjian has been on the job for four years, while Linda Gentry, a kindergarten teacher at K.L. Carver School in San Marino, has taught for 35 years.

“These hard-working teachers have been judged by their colleagues as exemplifying the very best of this wonderful profession,” county Superintendent of Schools Arturo Delgado said at a morning ceremony.” Every day in the classroom, they make the most of a precious opportunity to make a positive difference in the lives of their students.”

The award’s main sponsor, California Credit Union, gave each teacher $1,000 in cash.

The 16 winners were chosen from a pool of 69 teachers that participated in the county’s 30th annual Los Angeles County Teachers of the Year competition after being selected as the teacher of the year by their respective districts.

They were interviewed and had to submit essays and lesson plans to a panel of educator peers.

The winners will compete for the “California Teacher of the Year” title. The top five in that competition will be named in November, and one will go on to compete for a national title.

The 16 winners of the Los Angeles County Teacher of the Year award are:
Talmage Jones, Arcadia High, physiology/biology, 26 years;
Victoria Velasquez, Mountain View Elementary School, first grade, 21 years;
Elsa Hernandez, Stephen Foster Elementary School, special education, 11 years;
Rebecca Mieliwocki, Luther Burbank Middle School, seventh grade, 13 years;
Timothy Garman, Northlake Hills Elementary School, fifth grade, 11 years;
James Tighe, East Whittier Middle School, mathematics, 30 years;
Florence Avognon, Central Juvenile Hall, English, 18 years;
Rachel Haserjian, West Adams Preparatory High School, calculus, four years;
Zachary Weiss, Luther Burbank Learning Complex, math, 11 years;
Terry Little, Ascot Elementary School, fourth grade, 18 years;
Linda Okumura, Pacific Elementary School, first grade, 29 years;
Michelle Ramos, La Pluma Elementary School, first/second grades, 19 years;
Trace Grove, Summerwind Elementary School, fourth-sixth grades, 23 years;
Linda Gentry, K.L. Carver School, kindergarten, 35 years,
Nicoline Chambers, West High School, astrobiology/biology, eight years; and
Ken LaVigne, La Serna High School, 10-12th grades, 27 years.