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VIDEO: San Juan Unified names 2021 Teachers of the Year

When Casa Roble Fundamental High School teacher Vicky Warren tells somebody she’s a teacher, she knows the follow-up question will be “what do you teach?”

“The answer I want to give, and sometimes obnoxiously do give is ‘Students. I teach students,” she said.

Mission Avenue Open Elementary third-grade teacher Monica Burlando also finds joy in the intrinsic rewards of working with students.

“It is magical to hear my students make that beautiful sound, ‘oh, now i get it! I am humbled by how one small comment from me can make or break their day,” she said. 

Warren and Burlando are the 2020-21 San Juan Unified Teachers of the Year, not just for their student-focus, but for their commitment to equity, site leadership, pedagogy, professional development and willingness to volunteer and lead new projects on campus. 

In Warren’s application for Teacher of the Year, she wrote about the importance of the Response to Intervention (RTI) and how she aims to meet student needs through quality instruction, socio-emotional support, and intervention. However, it doesn’t end there.

“Until we can make parents this promise, ‘it doesn’t matter which teacher your child has at our school, if your child needs extra time and support to learn at high levels, we guarantee he or she will receive it,’ we still have work to do.”

Burlando wrote about how student confidence is key, and that when teachers can build trust and socio-emotional stability, they will achieve.

“Every year I tell my students that there is nothing in the curriculum that they are incapable of,” she wrote. “The bigger issue is whether they believe they can achieve it or not.”

Both are now nominated to be the Sacramento County Office of Education Teacher of the Year.