Jennifer Kelly Selected as California Teacher of the Year

posted Nov 12, 2010, 4:14 PM by Korby Olson

State Schools Chief Jack O’Connell Names Five 
Educators as 2011 California Teachers of the Year


SACRAMENTO — State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O’Connell today named five remarkable teachers as the 2011 California Teachers of the Year.

            “Our California Teachers of the Year are amazing instructional leaders who have a great passion for helping students reach their full potential,” O’Connell said. “They each have unique ways of teaching and thinking that inspire their students to love learning. The Teachers of the Year inspire me, and I hope they inspire veteran teachers and encourage future teachers to follow their footsteps into the classroom.”

            The 2011 California Teachers of the year are:

·         Shannan Brown teaches fifth grade at Thomas Edison Elementary School, San Juan Unified School District, in Sacramento (Sacramento County).

·         Darin Curtis teaches eighth grade physical education at Tierra del Sol Middle School, Lakeside Union School District, in Lakeside (San Diego County).

·         Beverly Gonzalez teaches fourth grade mathematics and writing at Santa Fe School, Baldwin Park Unified School District, in Baldwin Park (Los Angeles County).

·         Jennifer Kelly teaches eighth grade physical science at Middletown Middle School, Middletown Unified School District, in Middletown (Lake County).

·         Kadhir Rajagopal teaches ninth through eleventh grade mathematics at Grant Union High School, Twin Rivers Unified School District, in Sacramento (Sacramento County).

Detailed biographies are attached.

One teacher is selected to serve as the state's representative to the National Teacher of the Year Program. O’Connell chose Curtis to represent California in the national competition. The National Teacher of the Year winner will be selected next spring by the Council of Chief State School Officers. Candidates will be honored at a White House ceremony.                                          

“Curtis’ application addresses how important it is for districts to include physical fitness and health programs in their curriculum,” added O’Connell. “He understands how critical it is to instill healthy habits in children at a young age, especially at a time when one in four children do not engage in physical activity. I agree with Curtis’ statement in his application that, ‘There is nothing more important than the health of our children.’”

            The California Teachers of the Year Program began in 1972 to acknowledge the growing complexity of challenges faced by the profession and the need to promote collaboration among teachers to address challenges. The program is also designed to encourage new teachers to enter the field.

            The competition is open to educators who teach prekindergarten through grade twelve. County offices of education nominate winners through their regional Teachers of the Year competitions. A state selection committee reviews candidates’ applications and conducts site visits to evaluate the teachers’ rapport with students, classroom environment, presentation skills, and teaching methods, among other criteria. The teachers are interviewed at the California Department of Education in Sacramento. The State Superintendent selects the five awardees.

            The 2011 California Teachers of the Year will be honored at a special recognition event to be held in the spring.

            For information on the California Teacher of the Year program, please visit

# # # #



Jennifer Kelly

Grade 8, Physical Science

Middletown Middle School

Middletown Unified School District


“As the world around us becomes more complex, the value of teaching grows even more in importance.”

—Jennifer Kelly


Kelly has taught for 20 years in her current rural district as well as in more urban settings in San Mateo and Sonoma Counties.  


“In spite of economic hardships, we live in a very exciting era in education,” added Kelly. “With the realization before us of the crucial nature of closing the achievement gap, for the well being of not only our conscience, but for our state’s and nation’s future, we are at a time that a teacher can make a real difference. Are you ready to play a significant role in equal education for all? As a teacher, the students will inspire you to inspire them!”


Kelly earned a B.S. in zoology in 1986 from the University of California, Davis. She has also studied at San Francisco State University.


Kelly can be reached at Middletown Middle School at 707-987-4160 or by e-mail at