Meet San Diego County’s teachers of the year

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The San Diego County 2021-22 Teachers of the Year. (Photos: SDCOE)

SAN DIEGO — Five local educators have been honored with Teacher of the Year awards, and FOX 5 got to sit down with each of them to discuss their love of learning and their work shaping the next generation of San Diegans.

The 2021-22 San Diego County Teachers of the Year are:

Tiffany Jokerst, West Hills High School, Grossmont Union High School District

Jokerst teaches mathematics and engineering to students in all high school grade levels at her East County school.

“Jokerst builds relationships through endearing interaction, humorous activities (ask her about disco polynomial day), and facilitating discussions beyond math – all to create a safe environment where students can take risks, learn from one another, and thrive. She says her greatest reward in teaching is watching students who were apprehensive about math evolve into optimistic, confident math learners,” county school leaders wrote.

Jacquelyn Jourdane, San Altos Elementary School, Lemon Grove School District

Jourdane teaches second grade at her school in Lemon Grove.

“Pulling from her own experiences, she teaches students the values of equity, discipline, empathy, determination, and compassion at a young age so they can get ahead in life and use their knowledge to make people’s lives better,” the county’s education office wrote. “She has infused that spirit onto the school campus, where she replaced faded bulletin boards with information about young poet Amanda Gorman, social and emotional learning, COVID-19 safety, and reading. She has also partnered with the Anti-Defamation League to implement the No Place for Hate program on her school campus.”

Heather McClain, James Dukes Elementary School, Ramona Unified School District

McClain teaches second grade at her campus in Ramona.

“When you enter Heather McClain’s second grade class at James Dukes Elementary in the Ramona School District, you become a member of her ohana, which means “family” in Hawaiian. To her students, it means no one gets left behind or forgotten and everyone is treated with respect and compassion. They laugh, learn, struggle, and persevere together as they overcome the challenges of hybrid learning and pandemic life and focus on second grade,” the county wrote.

Laura Reyes, Central Elementary School, Escondido Union School District

Reyes teaches first grade at her school in Escondido.

“She’s created a no-fear, whole-brain-teaching classroom that is fun, interactive, and engaging. In her class students are encouraged to take risks and never give up. During distance learning, Laura transformed ordinary walks with her dog into teachable science moments to engage her students, creating and presenting videos on topics like the life cycle of birds and snakes, snail races, and rainbows. Through a grant, she obtained an aquaponics system for the school, and her students won a statewide video contest on how to grow vegetables using aquaponics,” local education leaders said in a statement.

Xye Sanders, César Chávez Middle School, Oceanside Unified School District

Sanders fills a variety of roles involving math and language arts, the learning center and more for seventh and eighth grade students at her campus in Oceanside.

“As an education specialist, Xye aims to make learning meaningful for every student by showing them that learning is a part of life and can help lead them to great things. She builds relationships with students to discover what makes them tick and how they learn best,” the education office wrote. “In addition to teaching, Xye is a member of a team at Chávez that brings new digital technology ideas into schools, put policies in place for student athletes to understand the balance of sports and academics, and started the Girls that Code club.”

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