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Ceres educator among ‘Teacher of the Year’ winners
• Raman Kang of La Rosa Elementary
Raman Kang
La Rosa Elementary School teacher Raman Kang (center) holds her “Teacher of the Year” crystal plaque alongside Principal Lori Mariani (left) and Ceres Unified School District Supt. Denise Wickham. - photo by Photo courtesy of Ceres Unified School District

La Rosa Elementary School teacher Raman Kang was among the selection of four local educators as 2024 Stanislaus County Teachers of the Year announced at the May 7 Modesto Rotary luncheon  at Modesto’s DoubleTree Hotel. 

The Modesto Rotary Club and the Stanislaus County Office of Education (SCOE) sponsor the event.

In addition, a Jane Johnston Civility Award was presented to one of the 12 finalists for exemplifying the principles of civility.

Kang was the winner in the transitional kindergarten-third grade level.

The other 2024 Teachers of the Year were: Nancy Barajas from Fairview Elementary School in the Modesto City Schools District – 4-6th level; Aaron Salazar from Ustach Middle School in the Sylvan Union School District – junior high level; and Dave Zylstra from Hughson High School in the Hughson Unified School District – high school level.

Kang and the other three each received a $1,000 cash award from the Modesto Rotary Club Foundation. Mocse Credit Union also sponsored the event and provided funding for the awards.

Megan Goncalves, a Virginia Parks Elementary School teacher, was a finalist in the TK-3rd category. Ultimately Kang was selected as the top winner.

Danelle McMillen, a Mae Hensley Junior High School teacher, was a finalist for “Teacher of the Year” in the 7th-8th grade category but was passed over for Salazar.

Central Valley High School teacher Richard Mickelson was also a finalist in the high school category but ultimately the top honor fell to Zylstra.     

The Jane Johnston Civility Award was presented to Aaron Salazar from Ustach Middle School in the Sylvan Union School District.  Salazar received a $1,000 cash award from the Education Foundation of Stanislaus County for exemplifying one of the 12 traits of civility. The Civility Award is in honor of Jane Johnston, former SCOE Assistant Superintendent and Education Foundation member.

Teachers were nominated by their principals and finalists were selected from 68 nominees representing 13 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.  

This is the 25th 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. All four Teachers of the Year will go on to represent Stanislaus County in the State Teacher of the Year Program.  One state winner then proceeds to the national level.

“It’s an honor to partner with Modesto Rotary for 25 years to recognize outstanding teachers – each who helps inspire and shape the lives of students in our county each and every day,” said Scott Kuykendall, the Stanislaus County Superintendent of Schools.

Sponsors of the Stanislaus County Teacher of the Year program included the Modesto Rotary Club Foundation, Stanislaus County Office of Education and Mocse Credit Union, with additional awards provided by the Association of Stanislaus County School Boards.