COE Announces Educator of the Year Award Recipients

2022 educator of the year award recipients
From left, Janet Stahl, Patty Freedman, Daisy Nuñez, Dr. Jessica Kiernan, and Heather Norquist are the recipients of the 2022 Santa Cruz County Educator of the Year Award

The Santa Cruz County Office of Education (COE) is proud to announce the recipients of the 2022 Santa Cruz County Educator of the Year Award, an honor awarded to staff who exemplify educational excellence and embody the values of our school community.

Honorees will receive a plaque recognizing their service to Santa Cruz County and their names will be engraved in the Educators of the Year perpetual plaque hanging in the foyer of the COE. 

Santa Cruz County Superintendent of Schools Dr. Faris Sabbah will honor this year’s award recipients during the County Board of Education meeting at 4 p.m. Thursday, May 19, at the COE, 400 Encinal St., in Santa Cruz.

The 2021-2022 honorees are as follows:

  • Teacher of the Year: Janet Stahl, San Lorenzo Valley Elementary School, San Lorenzo Valley Unified School District
  • Classified Employee of the Year: Patty Freedman, Alternative Education, Santa Cruz County Office of Education (Highlands)
  • Counselor of the Year: Daisy Nuñez, Watsonville High School, Pajaro Valley Unified School District
  • Administrator of the Year: Dr. Jessica Kiernan, Assistant Superintendent, Soquel Union Elementary School District 
  • Community Partner of the Year: Santa Cruz Public Libraries: Heather Norquist, Youth Programs and Services Manager

The Community Partner of the Year category was added in 2022 with the Santa Cruz Public Libraries earning recognition as its inaugural recipient.

A selection committee was formed to review the 74 nominations using the California Standards for the Teaching Profession, the California Professional Standards for Educational Leaders, and the following criteria:

  • Ability to create a passion for learning
  • High expectations for all students
  • Strong communication and collaborative skills
  • Strong sense of values, integrity, and professional ethics
  • Knowledge of subject and curriculum content
  • Commitment to the community they serve