Roth was selected for the award by a committee that included teachers, administrators and parents. County schools Superintendent Bill Cirone presented Roth with the award just before the county’s Board of Education meeting.
Roth has been a teacher at San Marcos High for the past eight years. He specializes in swim instruction and water safety.
He worked as associate head coach of the UCSB women’s water polo program and as head coach at the Santa Barbara Water Polo Club. He also coached water polo and swim teams at the high school he attended, Temple City High School.
Since arriving at San Marcos, Roth has also been named Teacher of the Year, in addition to Distinguished Educator.
On Thursday, he said it has been a humbling experience to be selected for the award.
“At San Marcos, we have so many wonderful teachers,” he said. “We all motivate each other.”
Roth said there’s a misconception that a P.E. class is just going to be some physical activity between other education requirements. Dealing with trust issues, motivating kids to succeed and helping them push themselves physically are all things Roth said he deals with daily.
He has been instrumental in building the aquatics program at the high school, where they’ve taught 94 students how to swim for the first time.
Roth and his wife, Leslie, just added a second child to their family, and he said themes such as consistency are key in the classroom and at home with his own kids.
he recounted running into a former student, who now works at Home Depot and who trusted Roth enough to ask him for some parenting advice.
“I guess I did something right,” he said Thursday.
For Roth, it’s those little moments with the students that make a tough job worthwhile.
“That’s what keeps me going,” he said.