• Congratulations to Los Angeles Unified’s 22 Teachers of the Year!

    Five Will Compete for Los Angeles County Office of Education Teacher of the Year

     Congratulations to our 22 inspiring educators as Teachers of the Year for 2020-21. These amazing teachers have been recognized for their expertise, success, creativity, devotion to their students, and commitment to the teaching profession.

    The honorees include teachers in elementary, middle and high schools, gifted and special-education programs, magnets, and those who work at multiple campuses. Five of the teachers have been selected as finalists to compete for the honor of Teacher of the Year for the Los Angeles County Office of Education.

    This year’s Teachers of the Year (and their greatest joys in the classroom) are:


  • Kristen Baldridge

    Kristen Baldridge

    Kristen Baldridge is a special education resource specialist at Clover Avenue Elementary School. One of the greatest joys as a teacher is seeing students with disabilities welcomed, supported and valued by their teachers and peers in general-education classrooms.


  • Nicole Bloom

    Nicole Bloom

    Nicole Bloom teaches math at Ulysses S. Grant College Prep and Digital Arts Magnet High School. One of her greatest joys as a teacher is having students tell her they like math class.


  • Rhiannon Chavez

    Rhiannon Chavez

    Rhiannon Chavez teaches fourth grade at 186th Street Elementary School. One of her greatest joys as a teacher is working with students, and their families to create classroom communities that foster a love of learning. She will compete for Los Angeles County Teacher of the Year.


  • Elissa Elder-Aga

    Elissa Elder-Aga

    Elissa Elder-Aga teaches kindergarten at 24th Street Elementary School. One of her greatest joys as a teacher is empowering her young students as learners, and watching them begin their reading journey. 


  • 5.	Cecy Gonzalez Equihua

    Cecy Gonzalez Equihua

    Cecy Gonzalez Equihua teaches expanded transitional kindergarten teacher at Lucille Roybal-Allard Elementary School. One of the greatest joys as a teacher is when her students have a "light bulb" moment, connecting their lessons with their individual experiences. 


  • Brenda Fishler

    Brenda Fishler

    Brenda Fishler teaches special education at John H. Francis Polytechnic High School. One of her greatest joys as a teacher is watching her exceptional-needs students grow in independence and confidence.


  • Maria A. Garcia

    Maria A. Garcia

    Maria A. Garcia teaches fifth grade at Hope Street Elementary School. One of her greatest joys as a teacher is seeing her students persevere, collaborate with one another through challenging tasks, and live up to the class motto, “In this class, we stick together.” She will compete for Los Angeles County Teacher of the Year.


  • Beverly Glass

    Beverly Glass

    Beverly Glass teaches fifth grade at Hancock Park Elementary School. One of the greatest joys as a teacher is making learning fun, and accessible for every student. She loves teaching all subjects, but especially enjoys teaching history, writing and poetry.


  • Lauree Johnson-Pittman

    Lauree Johnson-Pittman

    Lauree Johnson-Pittman teaches special education at Canoga Park High School. One of her greatest joys as a teacher is facilitating education while being a trustworthy adult for students with significant mental health and behavioral challenges.


  • Hazel Kight Witham

    Hazel Kight Witham

    Hazel Kight Witham teaches 10th- and 12th-grade English Language Arts teacher at Venice High School. One of her greatest joys as a teacher is listening to her students' stories, and nurturing a classroom of readers and writers. She will compete for Los Angeles County Teacher of the Year.


  • Kathryn Long

    Kathryn Long

    Kathryn Long teaches second grade at Fairburn Avenue Elementary School. One of her greatest joys as a teacher is sharing her love of dancing, music and art with her students, and the school community. 


  • Sauwalee Maliwan

    Sauwalee Maliwan

    Sauwalee Maliwan teaches 10th-grade Advanced Placement biology, and 12th-grade anatomy and physiology at her alma mater, John H. Francis Polytechnic High School. She also is the Gifted and Talented Education coordinator. One of the greatest joys as a teacher is learning with her students, and watching them make connections between science and life.


  • Kate Miller

    Kate Miller

    Kate Miller teaches sixth-grade English and history at Walter Reed Middle School. One of her greatest joys as a teacher is watching her students experience the "light bulb moment," when they understand a difficult concept, come up with a new idea or make a connection.


  • Sheryl Murakoshi Gallo

    Sheryl Murakoshi Gallo

    Sheryl Murakoshi Gallo teaches second grade at Elysian Heights Elementary School Arts Magnet. One of her greatest joys as a teacher is developing her students' sense of their importance to the world around them.


  • Rosalva Ochoa De Santos

    Rosalva Ochoa De Santos

    Rosalva Ochoa De Santos teaches dance to transitional kindergarten through sixth-grade students at multiple elementary schools. One of her greatest joys as a teacher is seeing the smiles on the faces of her students and the school community, as they are welcomed into the world of dance.


  • Alejandro Perez

    Alejandro Perez

    Alejandro Perez teaches fifth grade at Granada Elementary School for Advanced Studies. One of his greatest joys as a teacher is seeing the academic and social-emotional growth in his students.


  • John Purcell

    Dr. John Purcell

    Dr. John Purcell teaches first-grade at 32nd Street USC Performing Arts Magnet School. One of his greatest joys as a teacher is watching his students discover the power of reading, and how it can change their lives. 


  • Felix Quinonez

    Felix Quiñónez

    Felix Quiñónez teaches physical education to students at multiple elementary schools. One of his greatest joys as a teacher is seeing his students' love and learning, and watching them apply a growth mindset to overcome challenges. He will compete for Los Angeles County Teacher of the Year.


  • Gillian Russom

    Gillian Russom

    Gillian Russom teaches 10th- and 11th-grade history at Theodore Roosevelt High School. One of her greatest joys as a teacher is watching her students take on the roles of historical figures to debate challenging questions from social justice movements.


  • Diane Simons

    Diane Simons

    Diane Simons teaches second grade at the Academy for Enriched Sciences and Global Awareness Elementary Magnet. One of her greatest joys as a teacher is watching her students take charge of their learning and use principles of growth mindset to work through the processes of "growing their brains." She will compete for Los Angeles County Teacher of the Year.


  • Denise Tarr

    Denise Tarr

    Denise Tarr teaches theatre arts at Southeast Middle School DREAMS Magnet. One of her greatest joys as a teacher is watching her students' journey from confusion to struggle to comprehension. She delights in helping her students exceed their own expectations.


  • Jeremy Zwang-Weissman

    Jeremy M. Zwang-Weissman

    Jeremy M. Zwang-Weissman teaches eighth grade at Virgil Middle School. He also is the school's drumline director, and the seventh- and eighth-grade running coach. One of his greatest joys as a teacher and coach is being directly involved with his students' academic and extracurricular activities.