August 29, 2008

Alamo Elementary Teacher Among County’s Top Three

By Eric Louie

A fifth-grade teacher from the San Ramon Valley school district is among the three finalists for the 2008-09 Contra Costa County Teacher of the Year award.

Mary Dietler, an instructor at Alamo Elementary School, is in the running with Mark Morello, a teacher at Bristow Middle School in Brentwood, and Andreas Kaiser, a teacher at Pittsburg High School, the Contra Costa County Office of Education announced.

The winner will be named on Sept. 25 at the Teacher of the Year dinner celebration at the Concord Hilton. The winner will go on to the state Teacher of the Year competition.

Dietler, an Alamo resident, has taught at the school for 19 years, according to the San Ramon Valley school district. She started with elementary science and has taught fourth and fifth grades since 1996. She has also taught elementary science at Valley View Elementary in Richmond, developed and taught classes for educators for the University of Phoenix and facilitated summer leadership institutes at UC Berkeley.

She has a bachelor's degree from St. Mary's College in Notre Dame, Ind., and got teaching credentials 13 years later from Chapman University in Orange. She also has held scientific jobs, including studying analgesic drugs and wheat allergies for a decade after college. In her application for the award, she said she found her love of teaching while having the role of "science mom" at her children's school.

There are nearly 8,500 teachers educating more than 166,000 students in Contra Costa County, according to the county office.

Twenty-two teachers were nominated for this year's award. Seventeen of the 18 school districts in the county plus the county education office named their winning district teachers in March. The West Contra Costa and Mt. Diablo school districts named two teachers because of their district size.

Nominations also came from the Contra Costa Community College District and Cal State East Bay's Concord campus, who are not eligible for the state competition.

Applications were screened in April by a committee of 12 educators and business and public-sector partners. Six teachers were then picked for a classroom observation and interview in May by a small committee of education specialists. That determined the three finalists.

In mid-August the finalists will each give a three- to five- minute speech at the Mt. Diablo school district's orientation program for new teachers. Their speeches will be judged by another panel of educators and business and public-sector representatives.

Reach Eric Louie at 925-847-2123 or [email protected]

Originally published by Eric Louie , San Ramon Valley Times.

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