MUSD Teacher of the Year nominees

By CJ CAMMACK
Martinez Unified School District Superintendent

Congratulations to our Teacher of the Year nominees!

We are so lucky to have an abundance of incredible teachers and support staff in MUSD. It is really tough to single out just a few since so many are deserving of equal recognition. However, each year we honor nominees from each site, and then one person is selected as our MUSD Teacher of the Year to compete in the Contra Costa County Teacher of the Year Program through the County Office of Education. I am pleased to recognize the following individuals for being the Teachers of the Year from their respective school sites. Be ready for our classified employees of the year to be announced in the March newsletter!

• Gerry Wiener – Alhambra High School
Gerry Wiener is Alhambra High School’s very talented drama teacher. He has taught beginning and advanced levels of drama as well as musical theater, choir, and English with an emphasis on arts integration for over 25 years in Martinez. In Gerry’s classes, students work collaboratively in a positive and creative setting to find their voices and explore myriad dramatic and musical techniques, building confidence that will serve them in all aspects of life. Gerry is a strong educator dedicated to student learning, growth in the arts and the overall development of students as productive, caring, and contributing members of our community. The energy is his classes is contagious and I have been impressed with how he integrates life skills and positive choices in his work. Whether it is observing him in the classroom or around campus and school activities, Gerry is always looking for ways to connect and make each situation a learning opportunity. We are so honored to celebrate, Mr. Gerry Wiener as the Alhambra High School Teacher of the Year!

• Gretchen Van Til – Vicente Martinez High School/Briones Independent Study Program
Gretchen Van Til Vicente Martinez High School and Briones School is pleased to announce our Teacher of the Year, Gretchen Van Til is in her 26th year as a Teacher in Martinez and for the last four and a half years has been an Independent Study Teacher at Briones School. We are so lucky to have Gretchen on our Briones Team! She is a very skilled teacher who effectively develops and implements individualized learning programs for each of her students. She holds students to a high level of accountability while providing any needed support in order to foster their success. She is extremely diligent and detail oriented with the paperwork required for independent study. She goes above and beyond to support her students. One student last year missed a college application deadline, but Gretchen reached out to the college on several occasions so that the student could apply and the student was accepted! As a co-worker, we all appreciate Gretchen’s upbeat attitude. She is kind-hearted and so giving and is the first to write a thank you note to someone or send everyone a holiday card. Most recently she has started coordinating special events outside of work for our staff. Equally impressive to her effective teaching and amiable personal attributes, she earned her Juris Doctor degree last June! We are so pleased to get to celebrate Gretchen Van Til as our Vicente-Briones Teacher of the Year!

• Janette Smith – Martinez Junior High School
Janette Smith Martinez Junior High School is fortunate to honor our esteemed colleague, math teacher Janette Smith, as our Teacher of the Year. In the classroom, Janette works tirelessly to instill a growth mindset in her students. As a result of her efforts, Janette’s students walk into math with a “can do’ attitude. Her exceptional teaching is evident in how she fosters trust and community within her classroom; how her students want to perform and take ownership of both their struggles and successes, and how she proactively reaches out to parents when she has concern for a student. Janette is deliberate in all that she does and her innovative, dynamic teaching strategies are clear evidence of how hard she works to ensure that all students can access her math curriculum. In collaboration with fellow teacher Laura Greenblatt, Janette has begun to apply her skills towards improving school climate through the development of a Homeroom Think Tank program, which gives students a platform to voice their suggestions and ideas about how to make MJHS a better place to be, while equally bridging the relationship between students and staff. We both congratulate and thank Janette for her dedication to our students.

• Lindsay Fuller- Las Juntas Elementary
Lindsay Fuller Las Juntas is proud and honored to recognize and nominate our amazing reading intervention teacher, Lindsay Fuller for Teacher of Year! Lindsay started as a student teacher at Las Juntas, she then taught kindergarten for a couple years in another district but jumped at the chance of being back at, “home” with Las Juntas as an intervention teacher. Over the last 5 years, she has helped with the Gold Ribbon Award, Family Latino Literacy Project, Green Team and many additional intervention programs. Lindsay is the first to volunteer to help out wherever and whenever she is needed. She is leading the way with response to intervention using d track progress and monitor student success. She is exceptional at building a positive relationship with students and inspiring even the most reluctant readers to believe in themselves! Lindsay is a distinguished teacher that truly embraces the heart and soul of a eduator: patience, kindness, dedication, vision, collaboration and all heart! Congrats to Ms. Lindsay Fuller for being a role model educator in MUSD!

• Pam Galletti – John Muir Elementary
Pam Galletti Pam is a passionate and experienced teacher who continues to spark and ignite the curiosity of a variety of hands on creative educational opportunities, she teaches her students a love of learning that spans multiple subjects. In 2018, Pam represented MUSD as a recipient of the Shell Regional Science Challenge. Pam has excellent leadership skills, and she provides opportunities for many students at JME; an Advisor for Student Ambassadors, a Character Counts Committee Member, and she is unofficially known as the “Chicken Lady”, in her classroom. From dissecting squid to learning how to knit, Pam’s enthusiasm for learning is contagious in her classroom. Students leave Pam’s class filled with self-worth and a love of learning. It is a privilege to call Pam Galletti a colleague. She is more than deserving to be recognized as JME’s teacher of the year.

• Kellie Crane – John Swett Elementary
Kellie Crane Kellie being dedicated to her craft is an understatement. She constantly goes above and beyond to do what is best for kids. She is open to new curriculum and exploring new ways to deliver the material. Kellie is on the frontline of implementing Readers and Writers Workshop both in her class as well as others, serving as a Teacher Leader. The most important thing is that kids absolutely love Mrs. Crane and she loves them. Whether it’s a hug, fist bump, smile or laugh, Kellie’s students feel that they are genuinely respected, appreciated and loved as a part of the Crane’s Cubs clan. She is an unbelievable teacher who is constantly sharing ideas and resources. If something is ever needed, Kellie helps without question. She is overall one of the kindest, most sincere and genuine person who makes John Swett a better place for everyone

• Amy Benz – Morello Park Elementary
Morello Park – Amy Benz Amy Benz is an amazing teacher who truly teaches the WHOLE child, focusing on not just their academic goals and achievements, but their personal needs and desires. She instills a love of reading and art in each of her kids. Additionally, she goes above and beyond to support the other teachers here at school as the MEF Representative, Sunshine Committee, etc. She makes MPE a bright, happy, and positive environment for kids and adults. Amy has been our site representative for MEA and has participated on the Communications Team. As the Sunshine Coordinator, she has gone above and beyond to make our school a nice place to be. She brought in a holiday tree and decorated it. She worked with the office to provide a great team building event. She has put on breakfasts for staff and much more. She is going to teach interventions after school. She has also been our teacher in charge the past two years and recently stepped down since she had some students who would struggle without her there.

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