Just a day before California celebrated Day of the Teacher, Sacramento County Office of Education (SCOE) Special Education teacher Oluchi Okemiri received an individual honor—learning that she has been selected as the 2015 Sacramento County Office of Education Teacher of the Year.
"I am so surprised and so thrilled. I can't believe it!" Okemiri said as she clutched a bouquet of colorful balloons while surrounded by her students.
Okemiri is a resident of Sacramento and teaches students with moderate to severe disabilities in a 4th-6th grade combination special day class at Prairie West Elementary School, located in the Elk Grove Unified School District. She has been employed by SCOE since 2005 and has been honored twice as SCOE Certificated Employee of the Month (June 2008 and September 2013).
Colleagues and administrators bearing balloons and good news surprised the special education teacher with the announcement. Joining County Superintendent David W. Gordon in delivering the news was Special Education Principal Beth Vieira.
"She is compassionate and sensitive," said Vieira, "and consistently maintains a professional manner with her students, parents, para-educators, and colleagues. She demonstrates compassion and care for all her students."
Okemiri has a Master of Science degree in Special Education from National University and a Bachelor of Arts degree in Linguistics from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka. She is also co-founder of Word of Restoration Ministries, a non-profit organization that engages in community development, provision of clean drinking water, and rehabilitation of schools and churches in rural African villages.
The SCOE Teacher of the Year will be honored, along with teachers representing other individual Sacramento County school districts, at the annual Teachers of the Year awards dinner on August 15, 2014. That evening, two teachers will be named Sacramento County Teachers of the Year 2015 and will be eligible for the California Teachers of the Year program.