Local Teacher of Year visited by county superintendent

(l-r) Karen Sakata and Joanne Chen (Photo: Contra Costa County Department of Education)

Joanne Chen, a veteran teacher at Mira Vista Elementary School, recently received a visit from Contra Costa County Superintendent of Schools Karen Sakata.

That’s after Chen was announced last month along with Erik Radkiewicz of Pinole Valley High as a West Contra Costa Unified School District (WCCUSD) Teacher of the Year (TOY) representative. The WCCUSD teachers are among 22 Contra Costa County Teachers of the Year for 2018-19 who will be honored Sept. 27 at an annual gala held at the Concord Hilton.

It’s an impressive feat for the 22 teachers, who are among the 8,400 educators instructing more than 177,000 students in Contra Costa public schools, according to Contra Costa County Office of Education.

Superintendent Sakata has made it a point to visit each Teacher of the Year in their classrooms before the Dinner Gala. Radkiewicz will also receive a visit before the end of the school year.

After her visit at Mira Vista, Chen was highlighted as a teacher who goes above and beyond to ensure both parents and students are connected and involved with the education process.

Christine Allen, a mother of two teenage daughters who attended Mira Vista, said she was empowered to be a better parent because of Chen, who has been teaching sixth-grade history, English, and art at the school.

“She does this by persistently encouraging parents to sign up for her online gradebook, giving the students incentives for having their parents come to Back-to-School Nights, displaying her rubrics on her classroom bulletin board, and sending out extremely detailed weekly emails, that included a calendar of events, both for her classroom and the entire school,” Allen said.

A teacher for 17 years, having previously taught at Sheldon Elementary and Fairmont Elementary, Chen remains after school to tutor students needing extra help, assembles homework for students who miss class and attends almost every school event, even on the weekends or at night, Allen added.

“This really motivates her students because they see that she cares about them outside the 8-5 school day,”  she said.

Follow Contra Costa County’s Teacher of the Year program on Twitter and Instagram: #cocotoy.