Hip, Hip, Hooray for the Teachers of the Fall!

Incredible teachers are the backbone of the Special Olympics Schools Partnership Program! It is the teachers who work with their student-athletes in practice. It is the leadership teachers who have the vision to enable their students to make competitions a success. These dedicated educators make having Special Olympics in schools possible!

Each season – soccer in the fall, basketball in the winter, and track & field in the spring – Special Olympics Northern California & Nevada honors the life-changing accomplishments with Teachers of the Season!

Congratulations to our Fall 2015 Teachers of the Season: Amy Naches (Thurman White Middle School/Clark County), Jose Cumagun (Deer Valley High School/Contra Costa County), Patrick Gerrits (Bullard High School/Fresno County), Kimberley Carroll (Millard Elementary School/Mission Valley), Evan Roth (Galileo High School/San Francisco Unified), Jean Salazar (Lawrence Cook Middle School/Sonoma County) and Jaime Melvin (Tri-Valley/Dublin High School)!

Clark County – Amy Naches

Our Nevada winner – Amy Naches – has been involved in the Schools Partnership Program since its inception in the Clark County School District! She is an adaptive PE teacher at Thurman White Middle School in the southwest region. Ms. Naches has hosted multiple competitions at her school for both soccer and basketball and she also serves as a coach for several participating teams. She is especially deserving of this award because of her positive attitude and team leadership abilities. Ms. Naches’ contributions in both service and spirit have been phenomenal.

Ms. Naches organized Clark County’s largest Unified soccer tournament with 10 fields and over 650 participants! She is not one who thrives on recognition of her efforts, but she is absolutely worthy of this fall’s Teacher of the Season award! She has an incredible work ethic and exceeds expectations in all of the goals that she accomplishes. She is a wonderful example of a teacher and coach who supports all student-athletes and their individual strengths through sport! As a teacher, Ms. Naches works hard to ensure the individual success of her students and exemplifies professional best practices in her classes. Her supervising administrator notes that Amy lives the belief that all students should have access to sport.

Contra Costa County – Jose Cumagun

Jose Cumagun, who teaches special education for students ages 18-22 at Deer Valley High School, is an enthusiastic supporter of the Schools Partnership Program! Teaching in the Philippines for nine years before joining Antioch Unified School District in 2009, Jose’s enthusiasm for Special Olympics at Deer Valley was evident from the very beginning! He enjoys the competitive spirit and teaching students to do their best. He is incredibly effective and trains his student-athletes to excel to the best of their abilities. At a soccer tournament this fall, he taught his class to be compassionate athletes by cheering for the opposing team. It was amazing to see!

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Jose loves and cares so much about his students! He enjoys interacting with them and notes that he learns a lot from them! His classroom is a fun place to be and he also has his class doing projects, working jobs, fundraising and going on community outings. His students respect him and love being in Jose’s class! Jose truly enjoys being a part of the Schools Partnership Program and feels that his students are very receptive of the program. He enjoys helping them stay active while having fun. Mr. Cumagun appreciates the opportunities the program has provided.

Fresno County – Patrick Gerrits

Patrick Gerrits, our central California winner, has been a part of the Schools Partnership Program in Fresno for over 12 years! Patrick organized multiple teams, including a Unified team, for this fall’s soccer competition! He has been instrumental in promoting our Unified teams, not only on his campus but also at many surrounding schools. Patrick has incredible passion to provide the best opportunities for his students. He is always dedicated to going above and beyond his job duties to ensure that both students receiving special education and general education students have the opportunity to experience Special Olympics. Mr. Gerrits also helps schools get involved with the Polar Plunge! Patrick’s overall commitment to Special Olympics and his dedication to increasing participation numbers makes an indelible difference throughout the Schools Partnership Program in Fresno County!

Mission Valley – Kimberley Carroll

Three cheers for Kimberley Carroll, a special day class teacher at Millard Elementary School in Fremont! Ms. Carroll has been involved with Special Olympics in Mission Valley –Fremont, Newark, and New Haven school districts – since the program started in 2014. Last year, two of Millard Elementary’s three special day classes participated in the Schools Partnership Program and Ms. Carroll got the third class to sign up for this season! Not only did she get the third teacher on board, but she also shouldered the responsibility for planning out all the details for all three classes! Ms. Carroll made sure permission slips for the field trip went home, arranged transportation, organized uniforms, and even put together a pizza party after the event for all three SDC classes!

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It is important to her to make sure every student on her campus has the opportunity to participate in Special Olympics at their school. Ms. Carroll always goes above and beyond for her students and makes sure they have every opportunity to participate in our Special Olympics events. She made sure they all had plenty of time to practice leading up to our soccer event by building it into their weekly schedule. Ms. Carroll even worked out her schedule with the other teachers so they were all able to practice together! Her passion for her job and for her students can be clearly seen on a daily basis.

“I am honored to be involved in Special Olympics Northern California’s School Partnership Program,” Ms. Carroll said. “I am overjoyed to have my students involved in a program that allows them to participate in sports activities that promote their individual abilities and accomplishments without judgment. I love to see the joy on my student-athletes’ faces as they compete. My favorite part of the day is watching the students’ excitement and celebration – win or lose!”

San Francisco Unified – Evan Roth

Special education teacher Evan Roth has been making waves and enacting change at Galileo High School and across the City by the Bay! He is in his third year of work with the Schools Partnership Program and has been very involved! He organizes teams for three sports – soccer, basketball, and track & field. Mr. Roth also makes sure GHS’s Best Buddies club comes to support their peers at basketball and soccer tournaments! This fall, Evan was instrumental in organizing his students and best buddies from Galileo High to participate at our large high school soccer team tournament at Lowell High School. He is so detailed and well prepared so that it becomes possible for his students to participate in cross-town events. His energy and enthusiasm for having Special Olympics at Galileo High School is infectious! We appreciate you, Mr. Roth!

Jean Salazar – Sonoma County

We’re excited to name Jean Salazar as Sonoma County’s teacher of the season! A special day class teacher at Lawrence Cook Middle School in Santa Rosa, Ms. Salazar willingly organized, trained, and brought students from various classes to a soccer competition! She sent passes to all the students so they could practice, emailed teachers explaining the program to them and had a great amount of enthusiasm for the Schools Partnership Program!

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Jean’s attitude towards the program was nothing but positive. She spread the word to all the students in the special day classes and clearly sees all the positive aspects of this program. Ms. Salazar is always positive and enthusiastic during practice! She went above and beyond what was expected of her to facilitate this program in her school. We could not have the Schools Partnership Program in Sonoma County without her hard work!

Tri-Valley – Jaime Melvin

For as long as Tri-Valley schools have been a part of the Schools Partnership Program so has Jaime Melvin! Mrs. Melvin teaches in a special day class at Dublin High School! As a teacher, she has been invaluable to her students and campus student body in building community and disability awareness through the Best Buddies Club at Dublin High School. Not only does she make sure that her students have the opportunity to participate and succeed, but she also ensures that there is never a shortage of enthusiastic volunteers to help out at events.

Her efforts and dedication to her students is exemplary as a teacher and leader within the high school and in the greater community. Jamie’s dedication to teaching has built relationships and friendships across the student body and the Special Olympics Northern California Schools Partnership Program community. Having Special Olympics in the Tri-Valley schools provides opportunities for our students with special needs to compete in a manner where they can demonstrate their abilities. It also allows for our student body to gain awareness and acceptance of their peers with disabilities.

Mrs. Melvin’s dedication to the teaching profession and the relationships that she has fostered through the Best Buddies Club have lead the way for our schools to foster acceptance and inclusion throughout the Schools Partnership Program competitions and events. Thank you, Mrs. Melvin!

You have our utmost thanks, teachers! Click here to see all past winners!

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