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New Teachers, Mentors to be Honored at ‘Salute to Teachers’ Gala

Seven exemplary educators in Santa Barbara County will be honored Nov. 14, 2015, at the third annual “A Salute to Teachers” gala hosted by Cox Communications and the Santa Barbara County Education Office (SBCEO).

Three teachers have been chosen as Distinguished New Educators, while three others have been recognized as Distinguished Mentors. Capping the evening will be a presentation to the 2016 Santa Barbara County Teacher of the Year, Brandon Sportel.

The gala event, emceed by Andrew Firestone, will be held this year at the historic Lobero Theatre in downtown Santa Barbara.

A Salute to Teachers partners SBCEO with Cox and a variety of sponsors, including Village Properties, Fielding Graduate University, Montecito Bank & Trust, Anthem-Blue Cross, Noozhawk and others.

Cox has sponsored a similar celebration for 25 years in San Diego and is honored to continue this great tradition of teacher recognition for Santa Barbara educators.

The Distinguished New Educators, nominated by their peers and chosen by a committee through the SBCEO, are:

» Christopher Hanna, Ellwood School, Goleta Union School District

» Genevieve Bishop, Santa Ynez Valley Union High School, Santa Ynez Valley Union High School District

» Erin Van De Roovaart, Kermit McKenzie Jr. High School, Guadalupe Union School District

The Distinguished Mentors, selected in the same fashion, are:

» Francisco Diaz Real, Lompoc High School, Lompoc Unified School District

» Janis Spracher, Monte Vista School, Hope School District

» Clanci Chiu, Carpinteria Unified School District/SBCE

These six honored educators are all participants in the Teacher Induction Program at the SBCEO, which pairs experienced mentors with new teachers who are beginning to apply what they have learned while completing their first years of teaching.

Sportel was named Teacher of the Year in May and is a candidate for California Teacher of the Year. He is a special education teacher at Canalino Elementary in the Carpinteria Unified School District.

“It’s a special privilege to be able to recognize the contributions these teachers make to both the education of local students and to the constant improvement of their profession,” said Santa Barbara County Superintendent of Schools, Bill Cirone. “This event provides an opportunity to highlight outstanding new teachers and the hard work they do to create bright futures for students, and we’re grateful to the business partners whose support makes the evening possible.”

In addition to the awards presentation, the evening will also feature student musical performances and other entertainment.

“A Salute to Teachers 2015” will be broadcast in its entirety on Cox channel 8 later in the year. At that time it will also be available for viewing online at

Tickets to the event are available for purchase through the Lobero Theatre box office by calling 805.966.4946.

For more information about the awards or the event, go to or contact Steven Keithley, SBCEO director of teacher programs and support, at 805.964.4710 x5281.

For more information about the SBCEO Teacher Induction Program, go to or contact Gina Branum, program director, at [email protected] or 805.964.4710 x5426.

— David J. Lawrence is director of communications of the Santa Barbara County Education Office.


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