Santa Barbara County Teacher of the Year

The Santa Barbara County Teacher of the Year is an annual recognition of an exemplary educator to serve as a voice celebrating and representing all teachers. Each year one PreK-12 teacher is selected based upon the content of the application, letters of support, observation of instruction, and an interview by the Selection Committee. The winning County Teacher of the Year award will submit an application to the California State Teacher of the Year competition.

The Teacher of the Year is an excellent instructional leader and an effective communicator regarding the issues and challenges confronting teachers today. The Teacher of the Year is an advocate and representative for the entire educational community. This individual represents teachers at educational forums and is called upon to speak at local service and educational events.

The Teacher of the Year is one of the highest honors an educator can receive. Within our county, we have many outstanding teachers who qualify for this special recognition. Districts are encouraged to nominate one teacher as their district’s applicant, and teachers may also self-nominate.

Meet the previous Santa Barbara County Teacher of the Year Award Winners (click HERE)

Timeline: The nomination process for 2021 Santa Barbara County Teacher of the Year begins at the district level in fall, 2019.

– District Nominations: December, 2019

– Application Deadline: February 3, 2020 (for district AND self-nominees)

– The official announcement of the 2021 Santa Barbara County Teacher of the Year will be made at the May, 2020, SBCEO Board Meeting. A press conference will immediately follow.

Click HERE for application. Application will download to your computer

Any fully credentialed, PreK-12 teacher in Santa Barbara County whose primary responsibility is teaching students. Applicants must have taught in the classroom for at least 8 full years. State requirements are subject to change and may affect the candidate’s eligibility for California State Teacher of the Year.

A selection committee of administrators, business and community partners, and a previous Teacher of the Year complete an initial screening of the applications. Finalists will be interviewed and observed in the classroom.

Notification of finalists will be made approximately four to five weeks after the application deadline.

The Santa Barbara County Teacher of the Year:

  • Will be recognized at the annual teacher recognition events, Education Celebration, and A Salute to Teachers.
  • May be interviewed and filmed for promotional purposes.
  • Will be asked to speak at local service and educational events.
  • Will apply for the California State Teacher of the Year award.

Previous Santa Barbara County Teacher of the Year Award WinnersClk HERE (the application will download automatically).

Testimonials from Previous Teachers of the Year:

Jennifer Cline, 2018– “Being SB County Teacher of the Year has been an incredible experience. It is an extremely reflective process, which I do not think many teachers get the opportunity to have in the middle of their careers. The application process itself was a lot of work, but I feel I came out of it a better teacher, so my students were the true winners. I feel that being a teacher is a huge privilege. We get to be a part of these children’s lives, often making a difference for them in more ways than we realize. Being Teacher of the Year has also come with the honor of representing this elite group of people, who give so much of their time to making children feel welcome, important, and successful. What a fabulous opportunity SB County provides us with to celebrate such a vital profession!”

Michelle Minetti-Smith, 2017- “I believe teachers need to be ambassadors for education and do their part in educating the mainstream public about the great things that are happening in our schools and our districts. Often times, the state of our educational system are seen in a negative light and it is our responsibility to highlight the successes that we see each and every day. We need to tell our story. I invite educators to showcase the innovations, programs, and approaches being used to meet the demands of teaching in this century. I consider it an honor and a privilege to have served as a representative and spokesperson for the teaching profession representing all the outstanding practices, subjects and types of classrooms we see in our county. Being provided an opportunity to promote our profession and the innovations in education seen throughout transitional kindergarten all the way to high school has been extraordinary.”

Brandon Sportel, 2016- “Being the 2015-16 Teacher of the Year was a turning point in my career.  It began with completing the application, a process that forces you to reach deep into your soul and realize who you are as an educator, how you got there, and what you aspire to be as a professional.  The benefit of this was immeasurable. Once I was given the prestigious honor of TOY, I was humbled, but also quickly re-energized to be a better educator.  I honed in on my personal vision and future goals for my students, and was ready more than ever to execute them! Over the course of the year, I was asked to speak to diverse groups of professionals about my craft, collaborate and be inspired by other educators and celebrate at the “A Salute to Teachers” event. I felt so appreciated and valued to be among individuals that continue to have such a huge impact in our schools and with our students. I always knew that education was my path to fulfillment because my students would hold me accountable for being a life-long learner, but the TOY process showed me that I have the potential to reach beyond my classroom, and promote a better quality of life for all students.”

Allison Heiduk, 2015– “Participating in the Teacher of the Year program was an incredibly rewarding and worthwhile experience. The application process, although by appearance seemed to be overwhelming and daunting, resulted in a renewed commitment to education, teaching, and most importantly students. The self-reflection, and necessary examination of my practices, my philosophy, and issues and trends facing education, provided me an opportunity to think about who I am as an educator, the impact I have on students, and how my core beliefs and values shape my practices and my actions. It provided me with clarity and confidence and created a renewed excitement and dedication to the profession. The ultimate recognition of being named Teacher of the Year was truly an opportunity for me to be a beacon for others to see the outstanding aspects of education in our county and gave others a window into the excellence of teaching and the wealth of learning experiences given to the students throughout Santa Barbara County.”

Riccardo Magni, 2013– “It was an honor to be chosen TOY for SB County in 2013 and a pleasure to represent the hard working teachers of Santa Barbara County. Being selected as TOY has affected my teaching because I continually reflect on what I am doing to make sure that it is consistently at that level.  As I adapt to the change that is everywhere in our world today: changing standards, changing technology, changing culture; one thing is clear and unchanging: kids need mentors now more than ever. And that remains my goal as I have reached halftime of my teaching career: to be the best mentor for my students and fellow colleagues that I can be.”