SBCUSD Educators Recognized for their Efforts During Pandemic

SBCUSD Educators Recognized for their Efforts During Pandemic
Posted on 05/14/2021
San Bernardino County Teacher of the Year Vanee Matsalia

May 12 is California Day of the Teacher, and May 14 is San Bernardino City Unified School District’s (SBCUSD’s) Day of the Teacher. These are just two days to honor the educators who make a difference in the lives of children in our community and across California. It’s also an opportunity to spotlight the teachers who have gone above and beyond throughout their careers, but especially during the last year.


Vanee Matsalia is a language arts teacher at Curtis Middle School and the 2020–2021 San Bernardino County Teacher of the Year. Matsalia incorporates social studies into her language arts curriculum in a way that highlights individuals and groups who have not traditionally been spotlighted. She believes that when the curriculum is culturally relevant and inclusive, when students can see their culture in what they are learning, they will embrace education.


As a master teacher, the impact Matsalia has is exponentially increased. Teachers across the District can ask to sit in on her classes to learn first-hand how she engages students. The educators Matsalia mentors share her teaching methods with their own students, meaning that Matsalia is Making Hope Happen for students who have never even attended Curtis Middle School.


“Our District has educators and leaders who are passionate about our kids and passionate about our community. It is hard to not let that passion affect and infect you. It certainly did both for me,” Matsalia said. “We lift each other up here. We never let one another settle for good enough. As one of my mentors, Marlene Bicandova, was so fond of saying, we are the best at getting better. I am only Teacher of the Year, because of the amazing educators, students, and leaders who poured into me and invested in my success. That is what San Bernardino is, that is what we do. We build and nurture our own.”


Curtis Middle School math teacher Treg Painter has also earned praise this year. Painter was awarded the San Bernardino County Superintendent of School’s Education Medal of Honor in the category of Excellence in Education/Education Professional.


Painter has embraced distance learning as an opportunity to find new ways to engage his students and make math fun. He uses fun, new apps as part of his virtual lessons to get his students excited to turn on their cameras and truly work together, even if they are physically apart.


Painter, like Matsalia, is an SBCUSD demonstration teacher. He is also a mentor teacher for CSUSB undergraduate students who want to become math or science teachers. During a time when many educators are turning away student teachers, Painter has invited one into his virtual classroom. Despite the challenges of distance learning, he understands that mentoring a student teacher is important to the success of future students.


Cathy Satterfield earned the Los Angeles Clippers’ Teacher of the Month Award in November 2020. She is an exceptional educator who has been giving her all to meet her students’ academic and emotional needs for years. But her efforts to teach her Lankershim Elementary students mindfulness techniques and how to manage emotions have been especially important as her students and their families have had to manage the many emotions that came with the fears of COVID-19 and the stresses of being locked down.


Lankershim Principal Evette Peters and Vice Principal Dorothy Daft were especially proud that one of their teachers was honored. “We love that Cathy is always thinking about how to support her colleagues and generously shares with our staff,” Daft said. Satterfield has shared her techniques with her co-workers to help them cope and so they can help their own students.


Chavez Middle School’s Connie Jones earned a 2020–2021 STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) Research Grant from the Society for Science & the Public. The grant provided teachers across the country with science kits, including things like paper microscopes or PocketLab Weather Sensors, that students could use remotely during distance learning.


These are just a few of the amazing teachers who have dedicated their careers to the students of San Bernardino City Unified School District.

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