May 26, 2020 – Lafayette Elementary First Grade teacher Christina Nitsos is among four teachers chosen as a Contra Costa County Teacher of the Year (TOY) Program finalist, the Contra Costa County Office of Education recently announced.
Nitsos has served 18 years as an English Learner instructor, Kindergarten, and First Grade Teacher, all in the Lafayette Elementary School District in Lafayette, California. In addition to her classroom work, she has led and participated in extensive staff development, including attending summer institutes at Columbia University’s Teachers College Reading and Writing Project. She has been a guest lecturer for St. Mary’s College, and most recently has worked on education policy issues at the state level, as a Teaching Policy Fellow with Teach Plus California.
The newly honored teachers are not only recognized for their outstanding education achievements, but they also represent the approximately 8,600 teachers educating more than 177,000 students in Contra Costa County’s public schools.
“We are extremely proud of the Teachers of the Year, Class of 2020-2021,” reports Contra Costa County Superintendent of Schools Lynn Mackey. “When you review their TOY applications and their heartfelt letters of recommendation, it is quite evident that these teachers were thoughtfully selected to represent their schools and school districts, while at the same time truly embody what is best about public education in Contra Costa County.”
The county’s TOY program is coordinated by the CCCOE, and the judging usually combines a three-stage selection process, with a point and percentage system to determine the final candidates. But due to COVID-19, this year’s selection process has been revised to incorporate application screenings and committee interviews of the candidates separately and online, discussing topics such as their teaching philosophy and techniques.
On July 24, the four TOY finalists will each give a three- to five-minute speech to another panel of a dozen educators, business, and public-sector representatives who will judge the finalists on their speech and presentation skills.
Announcement of the two 2020-2021 Contra Costa County Teachers of the Year will take place at the tentatively planned Teacher of the Year Dinner Gala, to be held at the Hilton Concord on September 24th, pending the COVID-19 Shelter in Place directive from county health officials.
2020-2021 Contra Costa County Teacher of the Year Nominees:
● Marlene Miranda, Acalanes Union High School District, Las Lomas High
● Robert Vieria, Antioch Unified School District, Antioch Middle School
● Karen Neilson, Brentwood Union School District, Garin Elementary
● Jennifer Krey Byron Union School District, Excelsior Middle School
● Thomas Barber, Contra Costa Community College District, Diablo Valley
● Ellyn Hustead, Contra Costa County Office of Education, Mt. McKinley
● Kellyn M. Jew, John Swett Unified School District, Rodeo Hills
● Shirley Ann Padgett, Knightsen Elementary School District, Knightsen
● Christina Nitsos, Lafayette School District, Lafayette Elementary School
● Lyndsie J. Memory, Liberty Union High School District, Liberty High
● Amber Love-Snyder, Martinez Unified School District, Las Juntas
● Brett Lorie, Moraga School District, Joaquin Moraga Intermediate School
● Beth Miller Bremer, Mt. Diablo Unified School District, Wren Avenue
● Dylan Bland, Mt. Diablo Unified School District, College Park High
● Kathy Reinders, Oakley Union Elementary School District, Vintage
● Katherine Sahm, Orinda Union School District, Del Rey Elementary
● Taylor Leonna Smith, Pittsburg Unified School District, Rancho Medanos
Junior High School
● Sarah Clancy, San Ramon Valley Unified School District, Live Oak
● Courtney Konopacky, San Ramon Valley Unified School District, Stone
Valley Middle School
● Petra Sauve, Walnut Creek School District, Parkmead Elementary School
● Cesar Dante-Barragan, West Contra Costa Unified School District, Cesar
Chavez Elementary School
● Jesus Alfredo Galindo, West Contra Costa Unified School District,
Lincoln Elementary School