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CUSD teachers are award finalists
• Honored as SCOE’s ‘Teachers of the Year’
Laura McNelis at an awards presentation with Ceres Unified Supt. Scott Siegel (left) and CUSD board President Jim Kinard.

Ceres Unified School District employees Veronica Moreno, Lindsey McCloskey, Laura McNelis, Ilaen Marron and Gaylyn Barker are among the 12 finalists for the Stanislaus County Office of Education’s Teachers of the Year honor.

The program celebrates the exceptional work of positive role models who inspire all students to reach their highest academic potential and work to maximize their social and emotional development, consistently support high expectations for learning and responsible behavior at school and within the community, approach teaching with creativity, enthusiasm, and a true appreciation for the individual differences among all students, and cultivate a life-long interest in learning.

“We’re proud of our teachers and what they’re doing,” CUSD Supt. Scott Siegel said. “They’re constantly improving themselves. They care deeply about their students. They go above and beyond.”

Moreno, a P.E. teacher at Central Valley High School, is a finalist in the high-school division.

McCloskey and McNelis are finalists in the middle-school division. 

McCloskey and McNelis teach math and language arts, respectively, at Cesar Chavez and Mae Hensley junior highs.

Marron, a fifth-grade teacher at La Rosa Elementary, is a finalist in the 4-6 grade division.

Barker, a kindergarten teacher at Patricia Kay Beaver Leadership Magnet, is a finalist in the TK-3rd grade division.

Moreno, McCloskey, McNelis, Marron and Barker were videotaped in their classrooms during the third step of the Teachers of the Year Program.

“I never would have guessed I’d be nominated,” Moreno said. “It’s an incredible honor. I feel really blessed. I’m hoping we can all win. That would be awesome.”

Moreno has taught at Central Valley High School for six years. She also coaches track and field and cross country.

Moreno attended schools in Ceres, including Don Pedro Elementary, Walter White Elementary, Blaker-Kinser Jr. High and Ceres High School. She graduated from CHS in 2002.

“I’m really grateful to teach at Central Valley High School and for Ceres Unified School District,” she said. “You’re always learning. You’re always trying to improve.”

“My education gave me everything I didn’t have,” Moreno added. “I had some great teachers. The reason I became a teacher is because of Mr. Pronoitis. He was my English teacher in high school. College would have been more challenging if not for him. He prepared me.”

All 12 teachers will be presented with a Teacher of the Year Finalist Award at the Modesto Rotary Club luncheon on May 7. 

The four winners will receive County Teacher of the Year awards, along with $1,000 checks. Two of those teachers will be selected to represent Stanislaus County in the California Teacher of the Year program.

Stanislaus County Teacher of the Year finalists will also be in the running for the Jane Johnston Civility Award. The honoree will be recognized at the luncheon and will receive an award and a $1,000 check.

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