Close to 500 friends, family and colleagues attended the annual Contra Costa County Teacher of the Year (TOY) Dinner Gala at the Concord Hilton Hotel, on Thursday evening, Sept. 28 to see Marissa Ware and Paula Raj awarded with the 2017-18 honor. Ware teaches in the San Ramon Valley Unified School District and Raj teaches in the West Contra Costa Unified School District. The county TOY program is produced by the Contra Costa County Office of Education (CCCOE).
After being named TOY by their respective Contra Costa County school districts, then passing a rigorous application screening, followed by a panel classroom observation and interview, and concluding with a speech presentation, the two winners will represent Contra Costa County as its 2017-2018 Teachers of the Year. Ware and Raj will then participate in the California State Teacher of the Year Program.
The festive evening included the 22 celebrated TOYs from throughout the county (see this year’s Class of 2017-2018), along with their families and friends, as well as numerous educators (K-college), business executives representing the sponsors, local government, and local political representatives. The El Cerrito High School Jazz Ensemble, directed by Keith Johnson, provided the evening’s musical entertainment and Contra Costa County Superintendent of Schools Karen Sakata served as master of ceremonies.
Each of the four finalists, including Kari Stewart of the Walnut Creek School District and Tom Trowbridge of the Mt. Diablo Unified School District, were introduced by a former student, with an inspiring five-minute speech – the same speeches given at the TOY Speech Presentations in early August.
This year’s two Contra Costa County TOYs join the long list of other finalists, dating back to the 1972-1973 school year.