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Salute to Teachers: Desiree Hitch Loves Teaching, Coaching Righetti High’s Girls Basketball Team

[Noozhawk’s note: Part of a series on the teachers who will be honored Oct. 28 at A Salute to Teachers, presented by Cox and the Santa Barbara County Education Office. Click here for a complete series index.]

Righetti High School teacher and basketball coach Desiree Hitch is being honored as a Distinguished New Educator this year. Click to view larger
Righetti High School teacher and basketball coach Desiree Hitch is being honored as a Distinguished New Educator this year. (Santa Barbara County Education Office photo)

Desiree Hitch has returned to her hometown of Santa Maria and to her high school alma mater, Ernest Righetti High School, and is being honored as a 2018 Distinguished New Educator.

Beginning her third year as a teacher, Hitch teaches a Student Academic Achievement Seminar now but previously worked with special education students. The one-time college basketball player has coached the Warriors’ girls team since joining the staff.

Hitch’s love of basketball and coaching influenced her decision to become a teacher.

She completed her undergraduate studies at Cal State University, Los Angeles and received an education specialist teaching credential at Brandman University.

| Salute to Teachers | Complete Series Index |

In a letter nominating Hitch, Righetti Principal Karen Rotondi described her as having demonstrated that “she is not only a capable teacher, but an exceptional one.”

Rotondi wrote that Hitch inspires her students to succeed and exceed the expectations of others. Hitch has a “‘why not you’ stance and truly believes in hard work and overcoming challenges,” she wrote.

Hitch is one of eight educators being recognized at A Salute to Teachers event Oct. 28, hosted by Cox Communications and the Santa Barbara County Education Office.

Fifth-grade teacher Jennifer Cline, at Oak Valley Elementary School in Buellton, is Santa Barbara County’s 2018 Teacher of the Year, and Garson Olivieri, a teacher at Cabrillo High School in Lompoc, is being recognized as the Santa Barbara Bowl Performing Arts Teacher of the Year.

Distinguished new educators being honored this year include Hitch from Righetti High in the Santa Maria Joint Union High School District; Jani Lindberg from Santa Ynez Valley Union High School and Santa Ynez Valley Special Education Consortium of the Santa Ynez Valley High Union School District; and Kelly Keene from San Marcos High School in the Santa Barbara Unified School District.

Distinguished mentors include Christine Petrone from Manzanita Public Charter School in the Lompoc Unified School District; Denise Stevens from Rice Elementary in the Santa Maria-Bonita School District; and Kevin O’Hara from Carpinteria Middle School in the Carpinteria Unified School District.

In addition to Cox, the event is sponsored by Noozhawk, Anthem Blue Cross, Fielding Graduate University, Montecito Bank & Trust, the Santa Barbara Bowl and the SBCC Foundation.

Noozhawk Q&A

Noozhawk: Why did you decide to become a teacher?

Desiree Hitch: I decided to become a teacher after I started coaching basketball at Righetti High School. In 2013, I became the freshman girls basketball coach. I knew I wanted to eventually become the varsity coach at Righetti, so I looked into working on campus. That year, I got a job as an instructional assistant in a special education classroom and realized that I really enjoyed working in the special education setting. I decided to pursue my credential in special education.

Noozhawk: How long have you been teaching?

DH: This is my third year teaching.

Noozhawk: What is your favorite subject or lesson plan to teach your students?​

DH: Right now, I am teaching a class called SAAS (Student Academic Achievement Seminar). This class is an elective and it’s not even related to my special education teaching credential. It’s a support class for English learners and we are able to focus on organization, goal setting, college and career readiness, and other topics. I absolutely love this class and I would teach it every year, if possible.

Noozhawk: What is your favorite part of being a teacher?

DH: I love how rewarding teaching is. I love working with my students and I believe that I have a really good rapport with the majority of my students. I like being the teacher that the students can go to whenever they have a problem or need something. I do my best to make my classroom a comfortable and safe environment for my students.

My favorite part of teaching is being able to help my students with anything, whether it has to do with academics or their life.

Noozhawk: What are the challenges of your job?

DH: There are a few challenges to my job, but nothing major. Sometimes I feel like there is not enough time in the day or the class period to get what I want done.

Noozhawk: What are you most looking forward to this school year?

DH: I’m looking forward to seeing the continued progress with my students in all of my classes.

I’m also really looking forward to basketball season. I’m going into my third year as the head varsity coach at Righetti. We’ve had two very successful seasons these past two years. Last season, we went undefeated in league (14-0), made it to state for the first time in our school’s history, and we broke our school record with 25 wins and 5 losses.

I think my team this season will be really good, if not better than last year. I’m excited to see how we do.

Noozhawk: Who are your mentors?

DH: Deborah Philley.

Noozhawk: Who are the people in your life and work environment who support you every day?

DH: I feel extremely supported by the school administration, especially by my principal, Karen Rotondi. She has supported and believed in me as a teacher and a coach, and I am extremely grateful for her.

I also feel supported by my mentor, Deborah Philley. I’m able to go to her whenever I have a question about teaching, and she gives me the greatest suggestions and advice.

I also am grateful for the entire special education department. Although I have not taught special education the past two years, they have still been wonderful and supportive colleagues to me.

Noozhawk: How does it feel to be honored as part of Salute to Teachers?

DH: It’s truly an honor. I work really hard in the classroom, and I try my very best every single day to be the best teacher I can be. To be recognized for this award is such a huge achievement. I am also very grateful for the Salute to Teachers event. It’s a great way to show appreciation for teachers.

Noozhawk: Is there anything else you want to share?

DH: I am very grateful to be a part of the Righetti Warrior family.

Noozhawk special projects editor Melinda Johnson can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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