Celebrating 15 San Diego Educators on National Teachers Day


In honor of National Teachers' Day, we are celebrating 15 amazing educators who are making a difference in San Diego County. This group of individuals were nominated by people in the community who felt that their hard work, and dedication should be recognized.

Special thanks to our sponsor, USE Credit Union. Insured by NCUA.

Mindy Torretto of Crest School, El Cajon

Mindy is the founder of an outdoor immersion program at our school. She has been a middle school math teacher for years and created Math rotations that benefit each student and their levels. She has created a program at the school that has increased enrollment and during the pandemic, has bettered student’s mental and emotional health. She thrives on outdoor education and hands on projects that allow students to learn inside and outside of the classroom, because not all classrooms have 4 walls! Mindy holds students accountable and responsible and teaches them the importance of being good human beings.

Jennifer Hudspeth of Jerabek Elementary

Jennifer Hudspeth is a native San Diegan. She has been a public school teacher for more than 25 years. Our school (San Diego Unified School District) only just re-opened for in-person learning last week, however, Jennifer has been teaching non-stop during the pandemic. Jennifer is not just an extraordinary teacher, she’s a wife, small business owner, and mom. She has two school-aged sons, and her one son has a very (very) rare disease. So, to say this pandemic has been hard on everyone, it has been ten times as hard for Jennifer, having to endure her son is safe. But she doesn’t miss a beat. She is not just a teacher, she’s a caregiver. She cares deeply for each and every one of her students. Past, present, and future. She goes above and beyond for the kids in Scripps Ranch, and is so worthy of this recognition.

Miss Garrido of the Language Academy

Miss Garrido has been truly amazing. She has created a safe and supportive learning environment for students to learn 5th grade common core math and science.

Miss Garrido spends hours with students during the day and even provides office hours for parents to understand the curriculum and therefore better support students at home. She has incredible patience and skill to break down the world of exponents, fractions and how to dissect tricky word problems in a very simple manner.

I am touched by her commitment to student success and her dedication to student learning. While some teachers in other schools/districts offer additional tutoring at $40/hr, Miss Garrido graciously offers FREE tutoring. I hope you truly consider Miss Matilde Garrido for the USE credit union Teacher award as she is a wonderful asset to the school and role model to her students especially women of color aspiring careers in STEM.

Mr. Cokkinniss of El Toyon Elementary

Mr. Cokkinis loves teaching. His parents were also teachers. He's VERY patient, helps kids in so many ways, goes out of his way with small groups after regular hours. Even buys books and supplies with her own money. He's very dedicated and great teacher. It would be a good thank you surprise that he would really appreciate.

Christina Garcia of Ella B. Allen Elementary School

Mrs. Davies is an amazing and patient Kindergarten teacher. She gladly volunteers to remain a kindergarten teacher when most of the other teachers at the school run from teaching kindergarteners. It is always a challenge teach such young minds and definitely takes a lot of patients. With COVID and the numbers in the South Bay area being the highest in the County, Allen Elementary has remained distance learning. Mrs. Davies has been a wonderful teacher and mentor for her student teachers. She has worked with (2) student teacher this year. Not only is she great with her little students, but also takes the time to teach and mentor the student teachers. Mrs. Davies always has an “open door” and she’s quick to respond and offers help whenever needed. Mrs. Davies is well deserving of this award!

Erica Phillips of Penn Elementary

Miss Erica Is deserving of this because she is one of the most caring and driven special ed teachers in all of San Diego unified. She puts all her money and time into making the school year enjoyable and fun for all her students. She works with all nonverbal, severe students with autism. She makes class fun, safe and very educational. I believe if she won this she would put all this money back into her classroom.

Meghan Whitacre of Garden Road Elementary

She is the kindergarten teacher for my 5 yrs old.She is teaching 25+ kids via zoom for the first time and she is doing an excellent job.You can tell that she is passionate about teaching.She is always well prepare for all her lessons, and all homework and activities are well thought out.She is extreme patient with the kids during zoom and know exactly what to say or do to get them to engage with the activity at the time.I am going to miss having her as my kid's teacher.

Keri Welty of Deer Canyon Elementary

Just like for many professions COVID has reeked havoc on this profession. I saw 1st hand how an entire school was able to create curriculum during their spring break of 2020.A day didn't go by even during her breaks, weekends, and time off where she wasn't working on ways to get the kids the learning that they needed.2nd grade is tough enough and even tougher doing it remotely. When the time came for in person learning came she volunteered to be an in person teacher.

Vivian Rios of Crest Elementary

Ms. Rios goes above and beyond for her students. She takes the time to write grants to supply her classroom to give her students the best materials. One grant made it possible to stock her classroom with diverse books; the books feature people of different cultures, races, ethnicities, and different abilities.

Brianna Jiminez of Johnson Elementary

Brianna works with special needs children ranging from mild to severe developmental disabilities.She provides a loving and structured environment in her classroom which makes it a warm and inviting place to be.She loves her students and they love her! Brianna has changed the lives of her students and has made a significant impact on their parents. She deserves this!

April Chapman of Hedenkamp Elementary School

Mrs. Chapman goes above and beyond to help her students feel comfortable and safe.She invests a lot of time and effort into planning meaningful lessons and meeting the needs of all her students.She's supportive, understanding, and flexible.Throughout distance learning, Mrs. Chapman has taught her class the importance of equality and respect.

Jazmin Alaniz of Springs Charter School in Vista (nominated twice)

1) There are numerous reasons as to why my friend Jazmin deserves to win. She is a dedicated TK/ kindergarten teacher working tirelessly with young students. Miss Alaniz provides hands on learning, teaching children English and Spanish. She has funded her own classroom library up to 700+ books! This past year was particularly difficult and yet Jazmin remained committed to personalized learning for all her students centered on their own learning path and meeting their needs. There has been extensive uncertainty and change through the course of this pandemic, yet Jazmin faced every challenge determined to offer support and stability for her students. This is an opportunity to recognize all her efforts.

2) She has adapted well to the new norm adjusting her workload to meet parents where they are at in a pandemic teaching face to face as well as virtual. She goes above and beyond helping kids learn with specialized packets to help them learn at their level. She reinforces positive behavior and is always in contact with parents to help them with their children's needs. Jazmin is deserving of recognition as she many times works overtime to give her class the best chance to succeed!

Linda Gomez of Valley Vista Elementary

Ms. Gomez is a 6th grade teacher at Valley Vista Elementary. This school year has come with many challenges but through it all she always had her students as her number one priority. She not only cares about their academic progress but their mental health as well. She’s constantly finding creative ways to make learning fun and to encourage participation. She even created a participation wheel during distance learning to encourage participation. Students who participated got an opportunity to win $5 gift cards for Amazon that she purchased with her own money!! She’s always smiling, always encouraging and we are so fortunate to have her as our twins teacher.

Rebecca King of Reynolds Elementary

She is so patient with her students and encourages them all the time to “Never give up”. Her dedication and the time she spends with her students makes me feel good as a parent that my child is gaining knowledge and loves to go to school every day.Mrs. King, thank you for all of your hard work!

Sarah Poole of Valley Center Elementary

Amazing kind attentive teacher working double time with both in class and virtual students in a rural low income under served community. Class supplies and disinfecting products desperately needed.