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Teacher of the Year

“Positive, funny, kind, exciting, friendly, and helpful are all words that students use to describe Ms. Kerry Smith,” says Mountain Vista Middle School Principal Nicki Thomas.

Kerry Smith, Education Specialist and Resource Teacher at Mountain Vista Middle School of Kelseyville Unified School District, is the Lake County Teacher of the Year. Smith is an alumnus of Kelseyville High School, Sonoma State University and Dominican University.

Thomas says, “Kerry is outstanding in many ways. She has the instructional skills required to be a highly effective teacher, but also holds those intangible qualities that are the heart of a successful educator.”

The daughter of a math teacher, Smith attributes much of her success in the classroom to things she learned during her early child development education and experience as a preschool teacher during college.

“My background in child development has been the foundation for establishing positive relationships with students, regardless of their age. Always frame your expectation in the positive,” explains Smith.

As a Resource Teacher for grades 6 through 8 at Mountain Vista Middle School, it’s Smith’s responsibility to provide additional support to students with Independent Education Plans (IEP).

Smith spearheaded a co-teaching model of instruction for general education math in the 7th and 8th grades. She and the general education math teachers collaborate and co-teach a section of math together that allows resource students to receive grade level instruction with resource support. Smith also works with general education students who are struggling with math.

“This approach has been so successful that almost all of our resource students are now in the general education taught math classes and all students that Kerry works with are performing well in math.”

Cynthia Lenners, the Deputy Superintendent of Schools with the Lake County Office of Education, coordinates the Lake County Teacher of the Year program. Lenners states, “What really stands out about Kerry is her ability to provide access to quality curriculum for ALL Lake County students.”

After being selected as District Teachers of the Year through their site administrators, six Lake County District Teachers of the Year competed through an application and interview process for the distinction of Lake County Teacher this spring. They are:

  • Kerry Smith, Kelseyville Unified School District
  • Zane Jensen, Lakeport Unified School District
  • Deb Lipari, Middletown Unified School District
  • Charlene Norwood, Upper Lake Unified School District
  • Robert Reil, Konocti Unified School District
  • Jennifer Wangberg, Lucerne Elementary School District

During their interviews, all six candidates spoke passionately about the interesting and innovative programs they are implementing in their classrooms for their students. It’s Smith though, who will be moving forward to contend for the title of California Teacher of the Year 2020.

Smith’s state application is due at the end of July. The State Selection Committee will review applications and make site visits in early fall. The California Department of Education (CDE) will announce the California Teachers of the Year in October 2019.

Smith says, “Working among so many talented and dedicated professionals has shaped me into the teacher I am today. I am just one small part of a larger team and am humbled by my nomination.”

Erica Boomer, Ag Teacher and FFA Advisor from Upper Lake High School was Lake County Teacher of the Year 2018 - 2019. The California Department of Education named Boomer as one of five California Teachers of the Year in October 2018. As part of her outreach responsibilities as California Teacher of the Year, Boomer will be joining a delegation of California teachers visiting China this fall.

“It’s always fantastic when Lake County students come home to give back to their community, and affect so many in such a positive way,” adds Brock Falkenberg, Lake County Superintendent of Schools. “For two years in a row, local high school alumni who have returned to Lake County are being honored for their hard work in our schools and making our community a better place.”

Smith, the district Teachers of the Year, and the district Classified Employees of the year, will be honored on October 20, 2019 at the Excellence in Education Awards Dinner being hosted at O’Meara’s Bros. Brewing Company in Lakeport.