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Salute to Teachers: Canalino School’s Brandon Sportel Puts Focus on Emotions in Classroom

Santa Barbara County Teacher of the Year recognized for his work with special education students, developing web-based communication app

Brandon Sportel, a special education teacher at Canalino School in Carpinteria, has been named the 2016 Teacher of the Year for Santa Barbara County.
Brandon Sportel, a special education teacher at Canalino School in Carpinteria, has been named the 2016 Teacher of the Year for Santa Barbara County.  (Lara Cooper / Noozhawk file photo)

[Noozhawk’s note: First in a series on the teachers who will be honored Nov. 14 at A Salute to Teachers 2015, presented by Cox and the Santa Barbara County Education Office. Click here for a complete series index.]

Helping teachers build strong relationships with their students is something Canalino Elementary School special education teacher Brandon Sportel is passionate about, and his efforts have brought a major award his way.

                             |  Salute to Teachers 2015 |  Complete Series Index  |

He is one of eight teachers who will be honored next week at A Salute to Teachers 2015, presented by Cox and the Santa Barbara County Education Office.

Sportel was chosen as 2016 Teacher of the Year by a six-member committee that included administrators, a PTA representative, local business leaders and last year’s Teacher of the Year, Allison Heiduk of Vieja Valley School in Santa Barbara.

He will be honored, as will seven other teachers who will receive awards for their work in education locally, at the Nov. 14 gala event at the Lobero Theatre in Santa Barbara.

Along with Cox and the county Education Office, A Salute to Teachers 2015 is sponsored by Anthem Blue Cross, Fielding Graduate University, Montecito Bank & Trust, Noozhawk and Village Properties.

In April, Sportel was informed that he’d won the prestigious Milken Educator Award, which is bestowed on only one teacher per state and comes with an unrestricted $25,000 grant. He was also chosen in January as teacher of the year for Canalino School in Carpinteria.

Sportel told Noozhawk earlier this year that he knew he wanted to be a teacher as early as junior high. He graduated from Michigan State University in 2001 and began working for the Carpinteria Unified School District in 2006.

He started as the third- to fifth-grade special day class teacher for students with mild to moderate disabilities at Aliso School and later moved to Canalino. In 2007, he received his master’s degree in education from CSU Northridge.

During his tenure at Canalino, Sportel developed a web-based app called HelloYello that allows students to check in with teachers to let them know how they are doing emotionally. Students in general education classes also are using the app.

HelloYello has been gaining popularity and now has more than 1,000 users and more than 10,000 check-ins across the United States, Sportel said.

He’s also been working on bringing a popular movie to the classroom to help students talk about their emotions.

“We are currently working on collaborating with Pixar, and utilizing clips of the movie Inside Out to help teach our students that being aware of, and expressing our feelings, thoughts and emotions are an integral part of a better quality of life,” Sportel said. 

At the Salute to Teachers event, teachers Genevieve Bishop of Santa Ynez Valley Union High School, Christopher Hanna of Ellwood School in Goleta and Erin Van De Roovaart of Kermit McKenzie Junior High School in Guadalupe will be honored as distinguished new educators.

Receiving distinguished mentor awards are Clanci Chiu of the county Education Office, Francisco Diaz Real of Lompoc High School and Janis Spracher of Monte Vista School in Santa Barbara.

Lompoc High drama and choir teacher Sarah Barthel will also be receiving an award for 2016 Performing Arts Educator of the Year at the event.

A Salute to Teachers begins with a red-carpet reception at 5 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 14, at the Lobero Theatre, 33 E. Canon Perdido, and the awards show starts at 6 p.m. The event is black-tie optional.

Tickets are $14. Click here to purchase tickets online, or call 805.966.4946.

The event will be broadcast in its entirety on Cox Channel 8 later this year and will be available to be viewed online at Cox8TV.com.

                             |  Salute to Teachers 2015 |  Complete Series Index  |

Noozhawk staff writer Lara Cooper can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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