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Mesa Verde and Rio Americano educators selected as 2020 Teachers of the Year

Teacher of the year photo collage San Juan Unified has named Diane Boyd, English educator at Mesa Verde High School, and Svetlana Popov, mathematics educator at Rio Americano High School, as the district’s 2020 Teachers of the Year.


Both teachers have gone above and beyond to demonstrate their outstanding efforts in education and were nominated by their students, fellow colleagues and community members for this district-wide award.


For the past 25 years, Boyd has been teaching at San Juan Unified-- 24 of which were spent at Del Campo High School with not only English students, but AVID, computer applications and other classrooms as well. She began her time at Mesa Verde at the beginning of the 2018-19 school year and has clearly made an impressive impact.


Boyd earned her bachelor’s degree and teaching credential from the University of California, Davis and her master’s degree at Hawaii Pacific University. Upon completion of her credential in June of 1994, she began her career with the San Juan Unified School District.


“There is no greater, more noble profession than teaching,” said Boyd. “I became a teacher, like many others to make a difference in the lives of those who need it most.”


Perhaps equal to the difference she makes in her students’ lives, Boyd was instrumental in piloting San Juan Unified’s System of Professional Growth-- helping to support her fellow educators as well.


Boyd adds that “being nominated as the Teacher of the Year was overwhelmingly humbling, especially given that this is my first year at a new school.”


Popov began her career with San Juan Unified at Will Rogers Middle School in 2009, teaching seventh and eighth grade mathematics. She transferred to Rio Americano before the 2016-17 school year and has been teaching an array of mathematics courses ever since, including a unique section in collaboration with special education students.


In 2007, Popov earned an associate’s degree from American River College, then continued to Sacramento State University, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in mathematics in 2009. By 2013, she had earned her master’s degree in curriculum and education from the University of the Pacific.


“It is an honor to represent an amazing staff at San Juan Unified, but the honor goes to my students and so many more people whom I can’t thank enough. My students are the main reason I became the teacher I am today,” said Popov.


Though Popov didn’t immigrate to the United States until she was 20 years-old, she utilized her differences to find what would eventually be her career in teaching mathematics.


“As I slowly tackled the English language… I soon realized that becoming a math teacher was something that was needed,” said Popov. “My hope is for math to become one of the favorite subjects of American students.”


The rigorous process for this program included meeting a specific set of qualifications and competing against more than 50 San Juan Unified nominees in order to be named Teacher of the Year. Both educators will be recognized amongst other regional educators by the Sacramento County Office of Education and will move on to the countywide Teacher of the Year competition.