Top Teachers Surprised By Special Honor
Winners Will Represent District in County Contest
SAN JUAN CAPISTRANO—Three veteran educators have been selected as the 2011 Capistrano Unified School District Teachers of the Year, receiving notification of the honor during unannounced visits to their classrooms, and in one case, a school-wide ceremony on the blacktop.
Laurie Lowy, a fifth grade teacher at Las Flores Elementary School; Bonnie Liedlich, a sixth grade math and science teacher at Ladera Ranch Middle School; and Betsy Schmitz, a French teacher at San Juan Hills High School, will represent CUSD in the 2012 Orange County Teachers of the Year program.
“These teachers are the best of the best,” Board of Trustees President Jack Brick said. “The educators we honor today are examples of the dedicated and talented people we entrust to ensure that all students are prepared for college or career opportunities when they leave our schools.”
Lowy, Liedlich, and Schmitz were selected from winners at 57 school sites and programs. The District winners will be recognized at the annual Teacher of the Year Celebration at Ocean Hills Church in San Juan Capistrano on Thursday, April 28.
“Capistrano Unified has highly qualified, highly talented, and highly dedicated educators,” Superintendent Joe Farley said. “The professionals selected to be teachers of the year prove that to be true. We have excellent teaching every day, and I congratulate and commend Laurie, Bonnie, and Betsy for earning the right to represent their peers and this District in this important recognition.”
CUSD employs about 2,100 teachers at 56 school sites. They average more than 15 years of experience in education and more than half have earned graduate degrees. A little more than 20 percent of teachers statewide have a graduate degree.
“I am proud of the three teachers chosen to represent us,” Capistrano Unified Education Association President Vicki Soderberg said. “They exemplify the high standards to which those in the teaching profession aspire, and they serve as role models to both their students and their colleagues across the District.”
Lowy, the elementary representative, began her tenure in CUSD in 2002, and has been a teacher since 1990.
Middle school winner Liedlich began her career as a teaching assistant in 1978, becoming a full-time teacher in the District in 1980.
Schmitz is the high school representative. She started teaching for the District in 1993 after being an instructor in Mexico and a student teacher.
Last year’s District Teachers of the Year are Jennifer Henchel, Bathgate Elementary School; Jennifer Todd, Fred Newhart Middle School; and Kathleen Sigafoos, San Clemente High School. Henchel was a semifinalist in the county contest.