Corey Cooper Espeleta, a 15-year teacher who currently teaches math and electives to sixth- and seventh-graders at , has been named the district’s 2010-11 Teacher of the Year. She will vie for the San Diego County Teacher of the Year award later this spring.
The other two finalists for CUSD Teacher of the Year are Jill Ward, , and Shelley Thomas, . Espeleta, Ward, Thomas and all site Teachers of the Year will be honored at the May 11, 2011, Board of Trustees meeting.
The Teacher of the Year selection process is rigorous and comprehensive. A committee led by Assistant Superintendent of Personnel Torrie Norton visited finalists’ sites to conduct classroom observations and teacher interviews.
Norton states: “The selection process is always challenging, because our district is fortunate to have a cadre of inspiring, committed educators, K-12. Each site’s Teacher of the Year demonstrates exceptional professional skills and personal traits. It is a pleasure to be able to select the best of the best; this year, that honor belongs to Corey Espeleta. Corey is a leader, innovator and team player. She is dedicated to her profession, students, colleagues and her school.”
CHMS Principal Catina Hancock nominated Espeleta for “her dedication, expertise and desire to improve student learning and connectedness.” Hancock believes “Corey’s contributions to the school community are one of the reasons that Calavera Hills Middle was recognized as a California Distinguished School [2006-07] and most recently as a .”
Hancock says: “Corey uses math as a tool to build self-confidence in students by utilizing peer interactions to practice and cement learning. She creates a curriculum that engages students who tend to be difficult to reach in most academic settings and who have a history of struggling in school. She creates small steps of achievements for all students so they can feel success and become more intrinsic learners.”
CHMS colleagues describe Espeleta as a student-centered teacher and collaborative team member whose enthusiasm and school spirit are infectious.
Espeleta reveals her secret of successful teaching, which is simple but profound. She explains, “I don’t teach standards. I teach students.”