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Annual Confucius Birthday/Educators of the Year honors this month

One in a million!" says Springville Union Superintendent Connie Owens, describing Lisa Coorough, a teacher at the school. Ms. Coorough has been selected to be honored as the Middle School Educator of the Year, along with Elementary School Educator of the Year Janelle von Helf, and High School Educator of the Year Stephen Reid. The honors are part of the annual Confucius' Birthday/Educators of the Year Celebration. Now in its 19th year, the teacher recognition program, co-hosted by the Central California Chinese Cultural Center and the Tulare County Office of Education, recognizes an elementary, middle and high school teacher on the birthday of Confucius - an occasion Chinese people around the world often use to celebrate teachers.

The three educators will be honored September 27 at an event hosted by the Chinese Cultural Center. "The remarkable love and dedication our winners have for their work is making a huge difference in the lives of the students they serve," says County Superintendent Jim Vidak.

Janelle von Helf, Elementary Educator of the Year Elementary school educator Janelle von Helf is a first grade teacher at Sequoia Union School District, the same school she attended as a child. Superintendent Larry Lakey says, "Janelle is the epitome of an outstanding teacher. She has students using critical thinking skills, high frequency words and, by end of the year, they are writing very well." Mr. Lakey also praised her student engagement. "Her classroom is alive with energy and enthusiasm," he says. Ms. von Helf appreciates Sequoia Union's small school setting and the opportunity she has to watch students grow. "My reward is seeing their accomplishments over the years and how good they feel about themselves," she says.

Lisa Coorough, Middle School Educator of the Year Middle school educator Lisa Coorough is an English and History teacher at Springville Union School District. She is a graduate of Springville School who returned as a teacher, having earned a Master of Arts degree in education at Fresno Pacific University. Ms. Coorough is her school's CHARACTER COUNTS! chairperson, student council advisor and assistant principal. "I spend a lot of time preparing students as young as 7th grade for college," she says. "So when a former student wrote in her college application essay that she wanted to be an elementary school teacher at Springville School because of the influence her teacher had on her, that was the greatest reward I could receive."

Stephen Reid, High School Educator of the Year High School educator Stephen Reid has taught mathematics at La Sierra Military Academy in Visalia for seven years. He, too, appreciates his school's small size, which has allowed him to support students from seventh grade through their senior year. "It gives me a great sense of accomplishment to work with students over many years," he says. His principal, Anjelica Zermeño, says that he has a special gift for building positive relationships with students and making learning relevant. "Stephen is always willing to go above and beyond for students to see that they succeed. He is also an instructional leader on campus and supports his colleagues in the same way," she says.

For more information about the Educators of the Year awards program, call Marlene Moreno at (559) 733-6302.