MARTINEZ, Calif. – This past Tuesday, April 25, Contra Costa County Office of Education (CCCOE) Superintendent of Schools Karen Sakata visited Julie Quinn’s classroom at Las Juntas Elementary School. Quinn, a 34-year instructor, was recently named Martinez School District’s Teacher of the Year (TOY). For the past 17 years, Quinn has been a special education resource teacher at Las Juntas. Prior to her current position, Quinn has taught for the Antioch Unified School District, John Swett Unified School District, Walnut Creek Unified School District, Contra Costa County Office of Education, and San Francisco State University.
“My mother says I returned home from my first day of kindergarten complaining that we hadn’t learned to read that day,” remembers Quinn. “Despite this setback, at the end of that first week, I announced I was going to be a teacher when I grew up.” After earning her college undergraduate and graduate degrees, along with two special education credentials, she was soon hired as a resource specialist. “I knew right away this was my calling.”
“I love the many challenges of this position: teaching all the different ages, learning curriculum for each grade, working in the classroom and in small groups, assisting teachers, and working with families – year after year,” adds Quinn. “I love assessing students to help them discover how they best learn, and teaching them how to advocate for themselves (politely). And I especially love working with children in small groups, getting to know them as individuals, discovering their interests and dreams.”
On the evening of Sept. 28, 2017, the 22 Contra Costa County Teachers of the Year, class of 2017-18, including Julie Quinn, will be introduced and honored at the annual Teacher of the Year Dinner Celebration, held at the Concord Hilton. The 22 TOYs will be accompanied by their families, friends, and co-workers. The expected crowd of close to 500 will also include numerous other supporters of the program.
Throughout the school year, Superintendent Sakata makes it a point to visit each incoming TOY in their classrooms, prior to the Dinner Celebration. This is a great way for her to meet the teachers and their students, as well as take in the day’s lesson plan. When individually introducing the TOYs at the Dinner Celebration, Sakata will tell the audience about her visit and will quote one or two of the students’ remarks about their revered teacher.
Currently, there are approximately 8,400 teachers educating more than 176,000 students in Contra Costa County’s public schools. The incoming 22 TOYs represent 17 Contra Costa County school districts, the Contra Costa Community College District, and the Contra Costa County Office of Education (CCCOE).
Most of these representatives, those who teach grades K through 12, are eligible to compete in the Contra Costa County TOY competition. The two top teachers in the county TOY program will represent Contra Costa County in the California State TOY Program this coming fall.