Four teachers have been announced as the West Contra Costa Public Education Fund’s 2019 Teaching Excellence award winners.
They are Nystrom Elementary School Kindergarten teacher Fernanda Gonzalez Hausske, Pinole Valley High School Health Sciences teacher Dan O’Shea, Richmond High School English teacher Madison Schmalz, and Helms Middle School Physical Education teacher Doug Silva.
Last week, all four teachers were all surprised by a contingent of district officials, Ed Fund members, principals, fellow teachers, and family with the announcement. O’Shea, Silva and Schmalz were treated to music celebrations by their respective school bands, and all four were presented with a personalized Teaching Excellence Banner.
Gonzalez-Hausske has been teaching for three years, including two in the district. She loves data and her student’s intrinsic motivation to learn, according to WCCUSD.
“Children in my class look at their own tracking sheet and say, ‘Teacher, ask me this one. I know this one,’ which builds both their sense of pride, but also their metacognitive skills,” she said. “They have come to understand and internalize what it means to know something. And that is a beautiful thing.”
O’Shea is a 33-year veteran who has adapted new technology to fit the times and his students.
“I try to provide a classroom environment that is clean, safe and where learning is a priority,” he said. “I engage students and make them responsible for their own learning experiences by providing as many challenging activities and lesson plans.”
Shmalz is in her sixth year in the district, and in her ninth year teaching, and a previous job included teaching at a juvenile detention center, a special day class, and as an Autism Behavior Analyst.
“I believe that creating lessons that have content directly related to what students are experiencing and seeing in their daily lives is the best way to help them learn academic skills including analysis, critical thinking, and reading,” Shmalz said. “More importantly, it helps them understand what is going on in the world around them and allows them to see how they can engage in a positive, constructive manner.”
Silva is a big proponent of creating a safe environment for students, and he loves tying physical education to other subjects and plans cross curricular activities. He’s in his third year in the district, and ninth overall as a teacher.
“When a student leads part of the lesson, they gain personal pride,” he said. “When student work together to accomplish a goal, smiles happen.”
O’Shea and Silva were also selected as the district’s Teachers of the Year and will move on to the Contra Costa County competition.
All four winning teachers will be celebrated at the Ed Fund’s annual Soaring to Excellence Celebration on May 10 at Bridge Storage and ArtSpace in Richmond.
“Today is such a great day because we are not only celebrating the great things happening in our classrooms by these fantastic teachers, but it also shows how this is truly a schoolwide effort,” Superintendent Matthew Duffy said. “All four of the schools where these wonderful people teach have great leaders, cultures, and staff that are doing everything they can for students.”
Other finalists nominated by colleagues for the Ed Fund award were Richmond High School’s Rich Seeber, Harding Elementary School’s Anne-Marie Pine, De Anza High School’s Avilee Goodwin, and Nystrom Elementary School’s Erica Sheltry.