Published on Morgan Hill Life’s website on May 13, 2016

By Staff Report


Barrett Elementary School Barrett announced Kelly Parker as their Teacher of the Year. Kelly innovates with technology, brings history to life, and is a math guru. She works with students after school, annually writes a play with amazing choreography for the 6th grade class to perform, and organizes science camp. She will be heading off to middle school and will be greatly missed at Barrett.

Britton Middle School Britton announced Jim Levis as their Teacher of the Year. Jim demonstrates his dedication to the teaching profession by organizing the annual Washington D.C. student travel, serving as Britton’s science department Curriculum Associate, serving as an active member of the Secondary Curriculum Council, coordinating the Science Fair, advising and coordinating MESA, and participating on both the Morgan Hill Chamber of Commerce Science Fair Sub-committee and Education Committee.

Central High School Central announced Nicole Dietmeier as their Teacher of the Year. Nicole teaches in Special Education and Independent Study to assist students with credit recovery and reaching academic and personal goals. She is dynamic and does not hesitate to help both her students and fellow teachers.

Community Adult School Community Adult School announced Pam Goonetilleke as their Teacher of the Year. Pam has taught English as a Second Language to students at the Community Adult School since 2007, working with students from a wide variety of backgrounds and cultures who enter school with varying levels of English language skills. She coordinates our ESL program at other schools in our adult education regional consortium, as well as the Civic Participation program, in which students become familiar with expectations in the American workplace.

El Toro Elementary School El Toro announced Debbie Baker as their Teacher of the Year. For 16 years, Debbie has engaged, inspired and challenged her kindergarten students. She recognizes the unique gifts that each student brings and encourages building on their strengths, offering challenges to students needing extra stimulation, while also allowing young perfectionists extra time. Differentiated learning is a seamless process in Debbie’s classroom.

Jackson Academy of Math and Music JAMM announced Amanda Knudtzon as their Teacher of the Year. Amanda is an energetic, innovative, passionate music teacher who has built the music program for Morgan Hill’s first focus academy that now serves over 600 students. She has forged relationships with community music groups such as the South Valley Symphony, designed and secured violins for the K-2 violin program, designed a state-of-the art piano lab, and secured close to 100 band instruments.

Los Paseos Elementary School Los Paseos announced Michelle Grgich as their Teacher of the Year. For 15 years, Michelle has been dedicated and supportive to students and staff. She helped create the 4th grade Los Paseos Gold Rush Day, has served on the Instructional Leadership Team, and has participated in instructional rounds. Her peers are inspired by her child-centric way of planning her lessons and her innovative use of new technologies and implementing outside resources.

Live Oak High School Live Oak announced Ken Repp as their Teacher of the Year. Ken is retiring after 30 years of service in the English Department. Ken is well-respected by the students, staff, and parents. Ken’s teaching style is caring, respectful, and supportive for all students. He is patient and speaks in a very calm manner, and his students say they have never heard him raise his voice to get their attention. Ken is a true gentleman and scholar and has been a role model for decades of students.

Martin Murphy Middle School Martin Murphy announced Heather Wallace as their Teacher of the Year. For 24 years, Heather has created a safe haven for special education students. Heather has a unique ability to relate to all of her students and takes great pride in developing meaningful relationships with them, and one of her greatest joys is hearing from former students. She is a regular participant in the after-school Homework Center and is involved in current initiatives focused on student behavior and curriculum.


Nordstrom Elementary School Nordstrom announced Anna Goble as their Teacher of the Year. Her dedication and love for 4th grade students is limitless. Anna constantly strives to improve her practices by maximizing professional development opportunities. Her teaching fosters a love of learning, and students are challenged to do their best.

Paradise Valley Elementary School Paradise Valley announced Susan Wagner as their Teacher of the Year. Susan is a recognized leader. For 16 years, Susan has established very high expectations, and she does so with humor and in an environment that lets students know they are valued. Attending to students’ individual needs and differentiating her instruction, her students become strong writers. She has coordinated both the ELD and GATE programs and has organized after school enrichment opportunities. Susan readily shares her knowledge and experience with colleagues.

San Martin/Gwinn Environmental Science Academy San Martin/Gwinn announced Vee Zabala as their Teacher of the Year. Vee is passionate about teaching, especially about ELD instruction. She willingly gives up her own time during lunch, recess and after school to work with students and is excited to see their progress. Vee Zabala has worked on PBL curriculum design for the Common Core sixth grade math standards, meeting with a team of researchers and educators from Stanford every month and over the summer. She is eager to help with the implementation of San Martin/Gwin’s middle school in the new K-8 configuration.


P.A. Walsh STEAM Academy Walsh announced Ellen Miller as their Teacher of the Year. Ellen has taught in Morgan Hill for 30 years, beginning in kindergarten at Burnett Elementary. Her degree in Spanish, in addition to her credential, has proven to be extremely valuable as she has served the students and families of the Burnett and Walsh communities. Ellen is a collaborative teacher and has mentored many new kindergarten teachers over her career.