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Educators of the Year honored at the 18th Annual Confucius' Birthday Celebration at Chinese Cultural Center

The 18th Annual Confucius' Birthday/Educators of the Year Celebration was held on September 22 to honor three of Tulare County's best teachers. The invitation-only ceremony  - which was held at the Central California Chinese Cultural Center in Visalia - continues the long tradition of celebrating the careers of educators on the birthday of China's great philosopher and advocate for universal education - Confucius. "It's a privilege to recognize three outstanding teachers for their compassion, creativity and dedication," says Tulare County Superintendent of Schools Jim Vidak. "This year's honorees are people who care deeply for each student and are committed to educating them academically, socially and emotionally."

Each year, the Tulare County Office of Education and the Chinese Cultural Center work together to select one elementary, one middle and one high school teacher for the award. This year's honorees include: Amanda Renteria, Rocky Hill Elementary (Exeter); Stacy Tiner, Sundale Union School District (Tulare); and Cole Schieferle, Redwood High School (Visalia).

Amanda Renteria, Elementary School Teacher of the Year
Rocky Hill Elementary School, Exeter Union School District

Amanda Renteria Amanda Renteria is a fifth-grade teacher at Rocky Hill Elementary in Exeter. While she is a relatively new teacher (beginning her sixth year in education), Ms. Renteria is quickly becoming an instructional leader at her school and within her district. Visitors to her classroom will notice that students are 100 percent engaged. She keeps them focused through creative direct instruction that incorporates best practices, music and art. "I care for every student in my classroom as if they were one of my own children," she says.

Ms. Renteria is a member of the Rocky Hill Elementary Leadership Team. She also serves on the district-wide Professional Learning Community for language arts, and was recently selected as one of the first teachers in the district to be trained in Explicit Direct Instruction. Ms. Renteria also coordinates such activities as Science Day at Rocky Hill. Exeter superintendent Renée Whitson says, "Amanda Renteria teaches with a servant's heart and a tenacious focus on what is best for the kids!"

Stacy Tiner, Middle School Teacher of the Year
Sundale Union School District

Stacy Tiner Stacy Tiner has been in education for 18 years. She began at Sundale in 2003 as a 7th-8th grade intervention teacher. Ms. Tiner's class includes students with learning disabilities and English learners. The Sundale special services coordinator entrusts Ms. Tiner with some of the school's most educationally challenged students because of her compassion and dedication to see them succeed. According to Sundale superintendent Terri Rufert, "Stacy is very enthusiastic, creative and motivating, both as a teacher and staff leader. She truly loves her job and the children she serves."

Ms. Tiner operates a Homework Club after school to provide her students with the extra tutoring they need. "Stacy puts a great deal of effort into building a successful classroom community," says Ms. Rufert. "She uses a variety of techniques to help them believe in themselves and not give up. Her focus is to build positive self-esteem in her students, giving them extra time and holding them accountable for their actions. She also does an excellent job of getting parents involved in their child's education."

Cole Schieferle, High School Teacher of the Year
Redwood High School, Visalia Unified School District

Cole Schieferle Cole Schieferle has been at Redwood High School since 1999. He has served as a driver's education instructor and a basketball and football coach, leading the freshmen boys team to an undefeated season in 2001. Mr. Schieferle moved from teaching driver's education to becoming one of Redwood's more successful U.S. History teachers based on district exams and STAR scores. A few years later, Mr. Schieferle became Redwood's sole economics teacher. When the chance to teach AP government presented itself for the 2008-2009 school year, he volunteered to take the assignment. Mr. Schieferle is now a mentor to incoming teachers at Redwood High School.

Mr. Schieferle brings real content to the classroom and real issues for students to decide and debate. His classes are designed to challenge students, delving into the details of government and economics they see reflected in the real world. "I try to create an environment where it's cool to learn and show students that the subject is valuable," he says.

Redwood principal Dr. Fernie Marroquin says, "Cole captivates the students and brings the course content to life."