From left: Jill Reddy, kindergarten teacher at Arroyo Vista Elementary School, was honored as the School District Teacher of the Year. Christine Torres, kindergarten teacher at Monterey Hills Elementary School; Noelle Fong, third-grade teacher at Marengo Elementary School; Lisa Robinson third-grade teacher at Marengo Elementary School; Betsy Kahn, librarian at South Pasadena Middle School; Tasha Wahl, special education instructor at South Pasadena High School; and Oliver Valcorza, social studies and academic decathlon teacher at South Pasadena High School. Photo by Skye Hannah

Teachers from across the city were honored as teachers of the year on Tuesday, Oct. 9, at South Pasadena’s Unified School District (SPUSD) School Board meeting. The chambers were packed with supporters who came out to show their appreciation.

There were two different categories teachers were selected from, according to school officials.

Oneonta Club of South Pasadena’s Teachers of the Year are selected by the club and are recommended by the principals of the schools, one from elementary and one from secondary. Lisa Robinson, third grade teacher at Marengo Elementary School, was honored along with Oliver Valcorza, who teaches social studies and serves as the academic decathlon advisor at South Pasadena High School.

School site Teachers of the Year, selected by teacher peers, included Noelle Fong of third grade at Marengo Elementary School, Christina Torres of kindergarten at Monterey Hills Elementary School, librarian Betsy Kahn from South Pasadena Middle School, Tasha Wahl of special education from South Pasadena High School and Jill Reddy, kindergarten teacher at Arroyo Vista Elementary School, who also was commended as SPUSD’s Teacher of the Year and Los Angeles County’s “Sweet 16” Teacher of the Year. 

School Board members stood to applaud the teachers during the meeting and effusively shared their gratitude for their service.

“I just want to say congratulations to all of you,” said school board member Dr. Suzie Abajian. “Thank you for your service to our community and our students. Thank you for all that you do every day. We appreciate you.”

School board member Julie Giuloini concurred.

“You’re exemplary in what you do and such great role models to our students every single day,” said Giuloini. “So thank you for the energy and the creativity and the love that you bring to our district day after day.”

Reddy, who subsequently advanced to the California State Teacher of the Year Competition, shared with The Review that the entire experience has had a positive and uplifting effect on her.

“It’s really been very wonderful,” said Reddy. “I feel that the community as a whole supports education so much here in South Pasadena. It just fills your heart to see people recognize the efforts of teachers. We recognize the efforts of our students because we’re so proud of them.”

Reddy also said that she felt humbled to be selected by her peers for the district award and recognized how much heart and effort her fellow teachers put into their daily work with students. Reddy said her kindergarten students at Arroyo Vista have also shown their support in their simple and from-the-heart gestures.

“They’re very sweet,” said Reddy. “They hug you around the legs and say, ‘we love you Ms. Reddy.’”

Many former students and families have also reached out to Reddy to share their love and appreciation, which she said, “brings up so many fabulous memories.”

Looking to the future, Reddy said she plans to “continue to work, grow and carry on working for the very best for the future of our students.” 

Skye Hannah, Senior Reporter
Author

Skye Hannah is a senior reporter for the South Pasadena Review and the San Marino Tribune, covering education, features and civic issues. Skye previously served as an award-winning senior staff photojournalist and staff writer covering education, business, crime, sports, features and civic issues for the Rome News-Tribune in Rome, Georgia. A native of Dallas, Texas, she is an avid cyclist, enthusiastic outdoorswoman, and has been known to drop “y’all” in conversation.

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