We’re proud to have honored over 178 teachers in the WCCUSD with Teaching Excellence Awards. These teachers represent the best of the best in the district, see below past winners.

Nashon Williams, Lovonya DeJean Middle School, 7th/8th Grade Math

Ms. Nashon Williams has been teaching for two decades, and has been working in the district since 2018. Ms. Williams is deeply involved in culturally and linguistically relevant teaching, and has even led professional development for her colleagues in those areas. She believes in the importance of students not only completing their work, but actually being able to fully grasp the material.

Ms. Williams works to give struggling students one-on-one attention while allowing the students who are grasping the material to work through additional problems. She also makes sure to give time for students to teach and learn from each other, because she believes that students can have a “magical way to get the information across” to their peers. She instills in her students perseverance and the confidence to own their knowledge.

Ms. Williams represented WCCUSD at the 2022 Teacher of the Year Award ceremony.

Carole Peters, Vista Virtual, Middle School all Subjects

Ms. Peters has 15 years of teaching experience, and recently joined the Vista Virtual team. In her first year at Vista Virtual, she has worked to establish the African American Parent Advisory Council. The group supports the school with anti-racist practices, calls out inequities, and works to make the school more inclusive. Additionally, she is in the process of developing a Black Student Union at the virtual academy.

Ms. Peters’ teaching philosophy is rooted in forming relationships with her students. She understands the experiences of  students of color and strives to be that trusted teacher that understands what they’re going through. She believes that both life and students “[are] full of commas and not periods. Once you meet a goal it’s not over like a period but a comma to add more goals, more learning, more success, and more opportunities for growth.”

Lisa Jako, Michelle Obama Elementary School, 5th Grade Math and Science

Ms. Jako has been in her position for three years, and works to challenge her students daily, while supporting struggling students. She sees teaching as teamwork between herself and her students.

Ms. Jako aims for her students to have a substantial say in what happens within their classroom and community. According to her, when students are able to feel comfortable and heard in their classrooms, they will be more engaged in their studies. She sees her role as a teacher as an opportunity to be a part of social justice work, community partnership, and activism. Recently, she worked with her students to design a project that got reusable water bottles into the hands of all students at her school site, empowering her students to be actively engaged in the real world.

Luis Chacon, Richmond High School, 10-12th Ethnic Studies and Chicano Studies

Mr. Chacon is an alumnus of Richmond High, and has been teaching at the school for five years. He sees his position as being a part of the village that raises each child. He said that he wants to have his students “read the word and read the world,” having them develop their literacy skills to better understand the world they live in.

Listening to his students’ desire to learn more about their history, Mr. Chacon has written curriculum for Ethnic Studies, Chicano/Chicana studies, and has worked to bring African American studies to RHS. He has also helped shift history courses at RHS to use an ethnic studies framework. He is committed to bringing equitable and anti-racist practices into his classroom, fulfilling his lifelong goal of teaching and supporting youth in his Richmond community.

Mr. Chacon representeed WCCUSD at the 2022 Teacher of the Year Award ceremony.

Laura Garriguez, Richmond High School, 9-12 Spanish

Ms. Garriguez has over 8 years of teaching experience and has spent the last 7 years at Richmond High School. She brings a strong sense of collaboration with her teacher colleagues and students. At the core of her teaching is a strong foundation that fosters love and trust with her students and amongst the students as well. As a newcomer teacher, she uses her content to teach topics of social justice, resiliency, and Socio-emotional development.

In her classroom, she often incorporates Restorative Justice Circle Keeping and activities that promote engagement, community and collaboration. Ms. Garriguez’s classes dive into topics that help newcomer, immigrant and refugee students share and explore their experiences in the U.S. Her content does not shy away from conversations around racism, anti-blackness, and gender roles, issues that affect her students’ communities.

Molly Wahl, Madera Elementary School, 6th grade Reading, Writing, Integrated Social Studies, Home Room

Ms. Wahl has over 10 years of teaching experience and has been at Madera Elementary for the past year. She believes that the key to being an effective teacher is to truly see her students and prioritize love. Her classes stress the importance of social emotional learning, while motivating students to excel academically.

In her classroom, her students have the opportunity to share ideas and learn from one another. These relationships and conversations she is a part of help her believe that the future will be better than the present. In midst of all the social unrest, her students show her that this generation cares deeply about the many different causes and issues that impact their lives.

Christina Ferry, DeJean Lovonya Middle School, 7-8 ELD  

Ms. Ferry has been at DeJean Middle School for the past 6 years. During that time, she has come to the understanding that the way to work for the best interest of the student is by working in community. She counts on the support of her colleagues and other adults to meet the differing needs of students–both inside her classroom and throughout the school.

In the classroom, she seeks to build a culture of trust with her students where they can open up and be their full selves. This involves working with onsite therapists in weekly community circles to ensure students have a strong support system and dedicating the time necessary to address how to best assist a struggling student. She has been a part of a team of fellow teachers and staff who brainstorm together, create solutions and trust positive intent to do the best for their students.

Ms. Ferry will be representing WCCUSD this year at the annual Teacher Of the Year Award ceremony. Go Christina!

Carlo Juntilla, Richmond High School, AP United States History (11th grade), United States History (11th grade), Government/Economics (12th Grade)

Mr. Juntilla has been at Richmond High School for the past 3 years. In just three years, he has worked towards creating an inclusive learning environment where students feel heard and challenged. His teaching style is informed by a culturally responsive pedagogy that celebrates the differences of students and makes meaningful connections between what students learn in school and their cultures, languages, and life experiences.

The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted traditional forms of education, but he has taken this as an opportunity to explore ways to support students and their families to use their voices. Understanding the stress his students are under during the current circumstances, he makes himself available to his students after class and incorporates current events into his economics lessons. Throughout this unprecedented year, his students continue to show their potential and he is honored to be a part of their journey.

Mr. Juntilla will be representing WCCUSD this year at the annual Teacher Of the Year Award ceremony. Go Carlo!

Cesar Dante, Cesar Chavez Elementary, Third Grade DLI

Mr. Dante has 10 years of teaching experience, and has spent the last 5 years at Chavez Elementary. In the classroom, he is a calm and reassuring presence, prioritizing honesty and open communication with his students—in both English and Spanish. He demonstrates a wholehearted investment in his students’ holistic growth and well-being, and makes it a point to understand their individual hopes, dreams, fears, and goals.

As a proponent of personal growth as a complement to academic growth, he balances traditional learning with social-emotional learning through in-class Restorative Justice, Peace Circles, yoga, and meditation, while simultaneously encouraging technology proficiency among his students. Notably, he also engages the wider school community in these practices, by leading professional development courses around mindfulness and mental health.

Sydney Schantz, Korematsu Middle School, 7-8 Grade ELA

Ms. Schantz is in her third year of teaching, and has been at Korematsu Middle for the past year. In just 3 years, she has developed a series of innovative classroom systems and procedures—and continues to critically assess and improve them. In this way, she creates a unique class culture that her students take pride and ownership in. For example, she incentivizes good behavior through a “Behavior Points” system and creates opportunities for student leadership through student “jobs” such as ‘Class Librarian.’

She is deeply invested in maintaining relationships with parents and frequently reaches out to provide personalized updates on student behavior, not only when there is a need for improvement, but also to provide positive reinforcement for good behavior. These close relationships with both students and families allow her to genuinely tailor her instruction to individual student needs.

Jesus Galindo, Lincoln Elementary, 3rd Grade Bilingual

Mr. Galindo has six years of teaching experience, and currently teaches at Lincoln Elementary. He brings a passionate message of empowerment into his classroom—his students know their full potential and how to achieve it, even when society may tell them otherwise. He works tirelessly to delegitimize the narrative that academic and career success is reserved only for students in wealthier neighborhoods, and ensures that his students are equipped and inspired to do the same.

His teaching philosophy is deeply rooted in community and diversity. He spends time with students and their families outside of the classroom on the way to school, at the movies, and even while shopping at the Richmond Flea Market. Additionally, he celebrates the myriad backgrounds in his classroom, often leading lessons on culture and heritage.

Crystal Turner, Lupine Hills Elementary School, TK

Ms. Turner has been at Lupine Hills Elementary for the past three years. She believes in teaching by example, and uses her own commitment to being a lifelong learner to inspire her students to similarly enjoy the process of learning, rather than just focusing on the outcome. Another way in which she leads by example is by modeling traits of empathy, compassion, and inclusion, encouraging her students to do the same. The guiding principle of her classroom is mutual respect.

Parents and students alike consistently share their appreciation for Ms. Turner’s fun and creative instruction ranging from sign language to art projects, to first grade math! She is a joyful presence in the school hallways, with students always reaching out to greet her–her enthusiasm is contagious.

  • Fernanda Gonzalez-Hausske, Nystrom Elementary School
  • Doug Silva, Helms Middle School
  • Madison Schmatz, Richmond High School
  • Dan O’Shea, Pinole Valley High School
  • Elizabeth Sanders, De Anza High School
  • Rachel Ricker, Verde Elementary
  • Jessie Welcomer, Montalvin Elementary School
  • Joanne Chen, Mira Vista School
  • Erik Radkiewicz, Pinole Valley High School
  • Tiffany Chieudjui, Grant Elementary School
  • Sarah La Due, Fred T. Korematsu Middle School
  • Jasmine Johnson, Richmond College Prep Elementary
  • Paula Raj, De Anza High School
  • Jessy Kronenberg, El Cerrito High School
  • Marisa Glidden, Dover Elementary School
  • Kristyn Loy, Stewart Elementary School
  • Taylor Rainer, DeJean Middle School
  • Helene Burks, El Cerrito High School
  • Lawrence Pang, El Cerrito High School
  • Brent Knapp, Lupine Hills Elementary School
  • Maribel Lopez, Dover Elementary School
  • Molly Salyk, Coronado Elementary School
  • Andre Shie, Helms Middle School
  • Keith Valdez, Hannah Ranch Elementary School
  • Bruce McCormick, Portola Middle School
  • Keith Johnson, El Cerrito High School
  • Adam Quintero, DeJean Middle School
  • Pat Simon, Montalvin Elementary School
  • Nathan Jackson, DeJean Middle School
  • Beth Levine, Montalvin Elementary School
  • Steve Mainini, Kennedy High School
  • Mike Mannix, Richmond High School
  • Eric Verprauskus, Lincoln Elementary School
  • Joshua Hastings, Richmond High School
  • Maria Saxton, Washington Elementary School
  • Abigail Sims-Evelyn, Lovoyna DeJean Middle School
  • Tracey Singh-Poole, DeAnza High School
  • Laura Buffi, Valley View Elementary School
  • Sofia Close, Middle College High School
  • Andrew de Holl, Pinole Middle School
  • Morgan LaRue, Lovonya DeJean Middle School
  • Jason Lau, Lovonya DeJean Middle School
  • Kathy Clemons, Grant Elementary School
  • Antioneta Franco, Downer Elementary School
  • Lucy Giusto, Hercules Middle/High School
  • Cynthia Taylor, Dover Elementary School
  • Armando Torres, Richmond High School
  • Claudia Velez, Olinda Elementary School