Teachers in the Orinda Union School District are known for their caring demeanor, consummate professionalism and dedication to their students. This year they have pushed the envelope even further as they continue to engage their students (and parents!) while sheltering-in-place.
OUSD recently announced the six 2020 site teachers of the year. Nominated by school site personnel, these outstanding educators are selected based on the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards. A team of teacher leaders works with the various site principals to review all submitted nominations and selects the teacher who best exemplified these standards at their school site.
This year’s site teachers of the year are Janet Friend (Kindergarten – Glorietta); Anny Lackey (Physical Education – OIS; Tracee Schultz (First Grade – Sleepy Hollow); David Wilson (Art Teacher – more than one site) Alex Wise (Third Grade – Wagner Ranch) and Katie Sahm (Fourth-fifth Grade – Del Rey).
Hired in 1998, Janet Friend was born and raised in Muskegon, Michigan. She earned her teaching credential at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. Friend moved to California via Hawaii, where she has lived for 46 years. She earned her M.A. in counseling from Saint Mary’s College, as well as an administrative credential, and worked as a school counselor before coming to the classroom in 1998. She has been a teacher with OUSD for 22 years.
“Ms. Friend has brought such love, compassion, inspiration, and happiness to everyone she has taught, worked with, or had the opportunity to meet,” said the staff at Glorietta. “We are so pleased to honor her this year as she prepares for her retirement and sails off to Hilo, Hawaii.”
Principal Stacy Wayne paid special tribute to OIS teacher of the year Anny Lackey by composing a poem. In clever rhymes, Wayne applauds Lackey’s positive energy, enthusiasm and management techniques as she guides students through yoga, scooter handball and volley tennis to name just a few. Making PE fun for OIS students, Lackey practices what she preaches to her young charges gaining the respect of her colleagues. In between coaching sports, teaching, organizing lunchtime sports, she also took on the role of department chair and member of the Instructional Council.
“This tribute was easy; she deserves the acclaim…For Anny Lackey always brings her A game!” wrote Principal Wayne.
Tracee Schultz’ uniqueness begins with the spelling of her first name. Using two ees at the end instead of an “ey” or just “y,” Tracee’s name has always been easy for Sleepy Hollow Principal Patsy Templeton to spell. “That’s because I equate those two ees with ‘effective’ and ‘efficient,’ two fundamental characteristics we like to see in every educator,” said Templeton.
Schultz’s efficiency is easy to see as the first-grade teacher juggles her classes along with a Master’s program and piloting both new phonics and history/social studies programs. She is also one of the Sleepy Hollow site reps for the district wide BaySci committee as well as the Sleepy Hollow site leadership/grade level articulation team. Most recently, Schultz became a member of the Tech Lead reps for Distance Learning.
David Wilson was a classroom teacher at multiple sites in Orinda before becoming the Art Specialist in 2016. His positive attitude helps him build relationships and provide intuitive feedback to his students. It also helps that Wilson is a talented and passionate artist himself. “I feel very lucky to teach a subject that brings me so much fulfillment,” said Wilson.
According to the evaluation of his School Site Personnel team, “the essence of David Wilson is what makes a truly exceptional teacher. He has many superpowers, but one of them is to speak with you and make you feel so totally validated and heard.”
An inviting, child-friendly classroom greets students and visitors to Alex Wise’s space at Wagner Ranch. The third-grade instructor is known for her subtle, delightful sense of humor that keeps her young students attentive and engaged. According to her colleagues, there is almost a “club” atmosphere in her classroom and even a shared, secret language that she and her students have developed.
One of her many strengths incorporates technology in ways that improve the learning experience. “Ms. Wise’s students love how she teaches concepts in a fun, catchy manner that helps them remember what they have learned long after the lesson has been taught,” wrote Wagner Ranch School Site Personnel.
During her nine years teaching in Orinda, Katie Sahm’s passion for students, dedication to best practices, and her vision for building strong learning communities for students and colleagues has touched the lives of hundreds of individuals. As her reputation grew, Sahm was called upon by the OUSD Superintendent and the Director of Curriculum to lead a district-wide grade level planning group. She planned professional development and worked alongside other 4th-grade teachers to ensure an aligned, quality curriculum for students across the district.
“Ms. Sahm is always thinking of ways to instill a love of learning in her students, and she has a masterful way of knowing what students need and just how to provide it for them,” wrote Del Rey’s School Site Personnel Team.
In addition to receiving Del Rey’s Teacher of the Year Award, Katie Sahm was also selected as the Orinda Union School District Teacher of the Year. She will go on to represent OUSD in the Contra Costa County Office of Education’s Teachers of the Year program.