The 33rd annual “Salute to Teachers” award featured highlights from five educators who were named San Diego County Teachers of the Year for 2023-24. The educators were showcased in a half-hour television special that aired yesterday.

One of the 2023-2024 San Diego County Teachers of the Year awards was given to a former 8th-grade science teacher at Hilltop Middle School, Melanie Villanueva.

Through a news release from the SUHSD, she said, “Teaching is not just a profession for me – it’s a passion, and my love for students and their learning keeps me in the classroom to this day. The best way to close achievement gaps is by providing high-quality instruction and helping students learn to believe in themselves and their abilities.” 

Villanueva earned master’s degrees in physical chemistry and education from the University of California, San Diego, and obtained a teaching credential in secondary education.

The five winners were chosen based on student achievement, professional development and school community involvement, teaching philosophy, knowledge of educational issues and trends, promotion and development of the teaching profession, and ability to serve as ambassadors of education.

During the “Salute to Teachers” event, the San Diego County Teachers of the Year were honored alongside 44 other local educators who have shown a strong commitment to their students and the art of teaching. 

Many of these dedicated educators are from the Chula Vista Elementary School District, including Anika Ito and Erin Marmion, while others like Melissa Showman, Leslie Bustos, Julie Carson, Kristy Greenway-August, Melissa Hernandez and Devon Moreno come from the South Bay Union School District and Sweetwater Union High School districts.

The 2023-24 San Diego County Teachers of the Year are:

— Melanie Villanueva, Sweetwater Union High School District

(previously grade 8 science at Hilltop Middle) now teaching on special

assignment at the district office.

   — Christina Bass, Painted Rock Elementary, Poway Unified School

District — grade 3;

   — Courtney Coffin, Orange Glen High School, Escondido Union High

School District — grades 9 through 12;

   — Amanda Ford, Flying Hills School of the Arts (previously Rancho San

Diego Elementary) Cajon Valley Union School District — grade 7;

   — Wendy Threatt, Felicita Elementary, Escondido Union School District

— grade 4 and;

“Salute to Teachers” was held Aug. 25 at UC San Diego Park and Market in downtown San Diego and was recorded in front of an audience of hundreds of educators and community leaders.

Congratulations to all the teachers who are working hard every day to make the world a better place!

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