Education took center court at Golden 1 Center before thousands of cheering and supportive fans as Sacramento County’s Teachers of the Year 2017 were honored March 11 during the Sacramento Kings/Denver Nuggets NBA game.
The two reigning Sacramento County Teachers of the Year 2017, Nichole Harshbarger (first grade teacher at Kingswood K–8 in San Juan U.S.D.), and George Helms (first grade teacher at Arnold Adreani Elementary in Elk Grove U.S.D.), were among the fifteen honorees at center court.
The District Teachers of the Year were featured during a halftime ceremony witnessed by the crowd at Golden 1 Center. Sacramento Kings Team President Chris Granger and Sacramento County Superintendent of Schools David W. Gordon greeted the teachers on the court as the Kings presented teachers with specially bound classic books with a commemorative medallion. This is the 25th year the Sacramento Kings recognized local Teachers of the Year, a tradition they started at a game in 1992.
Prior to the ceremony, the Kings hosted honorees and their guests at a pre-game reception. Each teacher had their photo taken with Peja Stojakovic. As part of the tribute to teachers, several Kings players talked about which teachers had the greatest impact on their lives.
The Kings staff kept the teachers busy all evening. Florin Elementary School teacher Denise Knorr interpreted the National Anthem in sign language—a first at the new arena. Daniel Crenshaw (Rosemont High School) sunk two free throws, earning Jamba Juice Certificates for those in attendance. Kendall Murphy (Walnut Grove Elementary), George Helms (Arnold Adreani Elementary), and Brad Ward (Mesa Verde High) played a round of Jeopardy. Brad won a signed basketball. Competition intensified as Theresa Lunsford (Wilson C. Riles Middle), Heather Gohn (Bannon Creek Elementary), and Kristen Swanson (Main Avenue School) rode trikes around the floor to see who was the fastest. Kristen won in a photo finish. Jennifer Jim (Foothill High) won a shirt by answering questions. Nichole Harshbarger won money in a Sleep Train buzzer beater competition.
The recognition was part of “Impact Night,” a series the Kings Foundation uses to create awareness and positive change. It commits resources to health, education, and sustainability-focused organizations.
The Sacramento County Teachers of the Year Program is coordinated annually by the Sacramento County Office of Education (SCOE) to recognize the achievements of local educators and to raise awareness of the valuable role that teachers play in the lives of their students and in the community. This year the program is presented by SCOE in partnership with the Sacramento Kings, the Sacramento River Cats, and the Sacramento Scottish Rite Bodies of Freemasonry. Information about the Sacramento County Teachers of the Year Program is available online or by calling (916) 228-2417.