2014 Kern County Teacher of the Year Award

On May 6th, 2014, one of the most incredible events in my life occurred. Of course, as a mother of two boys, nothing comes close to giving birth to my two boys. But being named one of two Kern County Teachers of the Year has to count as one of the most significant events in my teaching career thus far.

TOTYBy Rod Thornburg / Special to The Californian

The day started with a meeting with a professor at 6 a.m. to discuss my Capstone project.  I felt nervous about pitching my idea to my professor whom I respect a great deal. I was afraid of looking foolish and unprepared.  I spent the whole weekend getting prepared for the meeting. I read several hundred pages of journals and talked to five different people to make sure my idea sounded okay. Fortunately, my professor gave me amazing suggestions to make my idea solid. She was so supportive of the whole thing.  I was absolutely thrilled.

Later that day, my district’s IT director contacted me to ask whether I would consider piloting Google Chromebooks in my classroom for next year. I am pretty sure I screeched with joy. Although the final decision had not been made yet, he clarified, my district was looking for teachers to pilot them in their classroom if they were to purchase them. I volunteered enthusiastically.

By the time I arrived at the celebration late afternoon, I was with my best friend Jennifer and my husband. My two boys, who originally were supposed to attend the ceremony, had to go to the Spring Concert where my younger son was scheduled to perform. Not knowing what was about to happen, I asked my older son to take my younger son to the concert.

When I heard my name called at the ceremony, I was simply stunned. Honestly, it was incredibly awkward standing next to the Kern County Superintendent of Schools to listen to what I wrote and what people have wrote about me. What was more stunning were the responses that I received from my colleagues and friends. So many people have said that they were not at all surprised by it.  I considered that to be the most amazing compliment.

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But I will always cherish this experience no matter what happens. I moved from Korea in 1993 without speaking English. Being able to teach English to American-born children has been incredible in and of itself. To be recognized by my peers for doing a good job of it? Priceless! I am feeling truly blessed and lucky.

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