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Five Ceres teachers receive county accolades
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Two Ceres teachers were among four countywide teachers who were honored as a 2015 Stanislaus County Teacher of the Year.

Sarah Curry, a Summit Charter Academy teacher, and Aimee Hirsh, who teaches at Mae Hensley Junior High School, were picked. Two others outside the district were Andrea Fuentes from Orchard Elementary School in Modesto, and Helen Aleksani from Waterford High School.

Five of the 12 Stanislaus County Teacher of the Year finalists are from Ceres Unified School District. The others were:

• Elizabeth Pannell, a Patricia Beaver Elementary School teacher;

• Dan Leitner, a Blaker Kinser Junior High School teacher;

• Stephen Dias, a Ceres High School teacher.

The Modesto Rotary Club and the Stanislaus County Office of Education (SCOE) honored the finalists at a Rotary luncheon on May 5 at the DoubleTree Hotel in Modesto.

The four selected as Teachers of the Year will each receive a $1,000 cash award from the Modesto Rotary Club Foundation and a $700 Nasco gift card. Mocse Credit Union also sponsors the event and provides funding for the awards, decorations and lunch for the student entertainers.

Teachers were nominated by their principals and finalists were selected from 78 nominees representing 17 school districts in Stanislaus County. A selection committee, composed of local Rotarians and educators, narrowed the nominations through a paper screening process and then visited the classrooms of 24 semi-finalists before narrowing it down to the 12 finalists.

"A good teacher inspires students, ignites imaginations, and instills a love of learning," said County Superintendent Tom Changnon. "It is truly an honor to partner with the Rotary to recognize these outstanding teachers - each who helps inspire and shape the lives of young students in our county on a daily basis."

The Jane Johnston Civility Award was presented to Matthew Weinheimer from Hughes Elementary School.

in the Empire Union School District. The Civility Award is in honor of who best exemplifies the principles of civility. Weinheimer also received $1,000.

This was the 17th year that Modesto Rotary and SCOE have joined efforts to honor teachers in Stanislaus County. The program not only honors local teachers and celebrates excellence in education, but also provides an opportunity for teachers to receive state and national recognition. Two of the four Teachers of the Year will be selected, through an interview process, to represent Stanislaus County in the State Teacher of the Year Program. One state winner then proceeds to the national level.