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Mira Costa Teacher Named L.A. County Teacher of the Year

Sep 26, 2022 10:22PM ● By Jeanne Fratello

Nielsen, center, is honored by the Los Angeles County Office of Education.

Mira Costa High School - and the Manhattan Beach Unified School District - has earned yet another feather in its cap.

Mira Costa AP and Honors Chemistry teacher Teresa Nielsen has been named Teacher of the Year for L.A. County - one of only 16 teachers to earn the honor.

Nielsen had been selected as MBUSD's District Teacher of the Year and then went through a rigorous process to be selected from among the 66 other Teachers of the Year in L.A. County. 

Nielsen was honored on Friday at the Teachers of the Year banquet hosted by the Los Angeles County Office of Education.

Judged as the county’s top public school teachers for this academic year, the 16 educators serve as standard-bearers for the teaching profession and their 73,000 classroom colleagues across L.A. County.

Those 16 educators will advance with other county honorees from around the state to the California Teachers of the Year competition this fall.   

Each honoree will also receive a cash gift of $1,000 from the California Credit Union, the program’s platinum sponsor. Additional sponsors include the Greater Los Angeles Education Foundation, Annenberg Learner, Pacific Oaks College, the LA84 Foundation, Arizona State University, Los Angeles Rams and Los Angeles Chargers.

Nielsen, a Manhattan Beach resident, graduated from UC Santa Barbara, where she earned her bachelor's degree in physiology and a master's degree in molecular, cellular, and developmental biology.

L.A. County Teachers of the Year is Largest Such Competition

The Los Angeles County Office of Education Teachers of the Year Program is the largest local competition in the state and nation. It is part of the oldest and most prestigious honors contest in the U.S. for public school teachers.

The 16 were selected from a field of 66 teachers representing 62 school districts who participated in the competition.

In addition to being interviewed, contestants submitted essays, lesson plans and other materials to judging panels comprised of previous teachers of the year. At all levels, teachers of the year contests are designed to focus public attention on teaching excellence and to honor the exemplary dedication, compelling classroom practices, positive accomplishments and professional commitment. 

"The teaching profession is integral to the fabric of our society; that has been more evident than ever in recent years when more than 140,000 U.S. children have lost a primary or secondary caregiver due to the COVID-19 pandemic," said Los Angeles County Superintendent Debra Duardo in a statement. "One of the few consistencies for children during unprecedented times has been the connection with their teacher and classmates. Teachers have sustained students and families with their incredible capacity to nurture and empathize with the tragedies our students often confront. It is one of the greatest honors of our office to recognize some of the most exceptional educators in our county."

The five California Teachers of the Year will be named in October, but only one of those five will be chosen to represent California in the National Teacher of the Year contest next spring.   

The Los Angeles County Office of Education, headquartered in Downey, is the nation’s largest regional education agency, providing a range of programs and services to support the region’s 80 K-12 school districts and two million preschool and school-age children.

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