2014 Santa Barbara County Teacher of the Year

Kelly Choi
Mathematics Teacher and Academy Director
Dos Pueblos High School, Santa Barbara Unified School District

A teacher for 17 years, the past 15 of them at Dos Pueblos High School in the Santa Barbara Unified School District, Kelly Choi has led efforts to integrate technology into the classroom, develop ways to use it effectively in instruction, and train other teachers in its use. Kelly is one of the Santa Barbara Unified School District’s technology coaches and the director of her school’s Charger Academy, which gives intensive attention to students who are most at risk of not graduating from high school.

The Academy was established to provide students with the personalized attention and support they need to be successful in both school and life. The Academy connects school with community through mentorship programs, internship opportunities, and partnerships with organizations throughout Santa Barbara, with the ultimate goal to graduate productive and responsible citizens with a comprehensive life plan.

In each of the past four years, the Academy has identified 30 ninth-graders who are most at risk of dropping out, based on their high truancy, frequent disciplinary issues, and low grade-point averages, and helped them succeed.

“My strength is creating a relationship with my students built on honesty, trust, and respect,” Kelly writes. “But mostly, I just kill them with kindness. My expectations are high, my curriculum is rigorous, and my students’ success rate is excellent. All this happens because everything I do is rooted in being kind and encouraging.

“When students believe that I am genuinely invested in their success, and every action I make is based on that belief, the most at-risk student will rise to the occasion. Simply put, I believe that student success begins with the relationship they have with their teacher.”

Click here to watch Kelly on Local Leaders.

For more information on the Santa Barbara County Teacher of the Year program, visit: SB Co. TOY