Two educators have been selected to represent Sacramento County teachers in the statewide Teachers of the Year 2005 competition. At the annual countywide awards dinner, held September 8 at the Sacramento Hilton hotel, Barbara Harris, a teacher at Empire Oaks Elementary School (Folsom Cordova Unified School District), and Asa L. Salley, who teaches at John Bidwell Elementary School (Sacramento City Unified School District), were announced as Teachers of the Year 2005 for Sacramento County.
At the dinner, Sacramento County Board of Education Trustee Elinor L. Hickey presented Harris and Salley with the County Board of Education Award of Merit, the highest honor bestowed by the County Board of Education. The two teachers were also awarded a shared perpetual trophy presented by Rick Keltner of the Sacramento Scottish Rite.
Harris and Salley were among 16 teachers recognized Wednesday evening as Teachers of the Year 2005 for their respective school districts. Among those present at the dinner were the honorees' superintendents and principals. Each district Teacher of the Year was introduced by a current or former student. David W. Gordon, County Superintendent of Schools, and Christopher W. Woods, Sacramento County Board of Education President, presented each of the Teachers of the Year with an inscribed award. Serving as masters of ceremonies for the evening were Sacramento County Teachers of the Year 2004 Chris Hoover (Robla School District) and Denise Phillips (Elk Grove Unified School District).
Barbara Harris, a Fair Oaks resident, has been a teacher for 32 years. She currently teaches fifth grade at Empire Oaks Elementary School. In addition to being named Folsom Cordova Unified School District Teacher of the Year 2005, she was honored as Teacher of the Year by both her current school and former school, Cordova Lane Elementary School. Harris received her B.A. degree in communication and teacher education from the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, and her M.A. degree in communication and theater from the same university. She has served as a mentor teacher and has been a trainer of other teachers. Harris, who has been recognized in the community for her efforts to foster students' appreciation of theater, began The Shakespeare Academy performing arts program for children in fourth and fifth grades. In her Teacher of the Year application, she states, "I truly believe everyone is successful at something. I believe that you can use a student's success in one area to motivate him or her to success in another."
Asa L. Salley, a resident of Sacramento's Tahoe Park area, has taught for seven years all of those years at Bidwell Elementary School in the Sacramento City Unified School District. He was named "Teacher of the Month" by KXTV-10 earlier this year. He received his B.S. in science from Savannah State University and his teaching credential from Calif. State University, Sacramento. Salley entered the teaching profession "mid-life" after transitioning from a career in business administration, starting as an intern in a collaborative program between Sacramento City Unified School District and Calif. State University, Sacramento. He teaches third grade, serves as the school's MESA (Math, Engineering, and Science Achievement) advisor, and is active in promoting professional development and multicultural education. Salley is an active member of the Sacramento Alliance for Black School Educators. He states in his Teacher of the Year application, "The core of my teaching centers around my belief that all children are educable, deserve the very best educational opportunities, and the foundation of teaching is built on personal relationships with students and their families."
All of the school districts within the County of Sacramento, along with the Sacramento County Office of Education, are invited each year to participate in the Sacramento County Teachers of the Year Program. Larger districts are eligible to submit two entries. Each district's Teacher of the Year completes a comprehensive application packet, which includes an extensive biography and answers to questions ranging from personal philosophy of teaching to an understanding of current educational issues. A community selection committee comprised of education professionals, including previous Teachers of the Year, meets in the fall to interview each district Teacher of the Year and select the two finalists. The names of 16 teachers representing 12 school districts and the Sacramento County Office of Education were entered in the Teachers of the Year 2005 Program in Sacramento County.
Harris and Salley now advance to the statewide California Teachers of the Year competition, out of which five teachers will be announced as California Teachers of the Year in mid-October. The five California Teachers of the Year are responsible for representing the teaching profession in a variety of settings and assisting their teaching colleagues in numerous ways throughout the calendar year of 2005. Their names—plus that of the one individual of the group selected as the state's nominee to the National Teacher of the Year Program—will be announced later in the fall by the State Superintendent of Public Instruction.