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Back to school advice from educators throughout Santa Barbara County

On behalf of educators countywide, I am delighted to welcome everyone to a new school year. As many of us prepare for school, I thought it might be helpful to ask educators from around Santa Barbara County, who have been recognized for their distinctive contributions to their students, schools, and communities, to share some words of wisdom for students, parents/ guardians, and fellow teachers.

These outstanding professionals, representative of teachers countywide, hail from different grade levels, schools, and geography.

For students:

“Enjoy these years! They go by fast. Do your best and don't be afraid to make mistakes. We learn by trying, making mistakes, and correcting them. And always remember the quote from the book Wonder: ‘When given the choice between being right or being kind, choose kind.’” - Jennifer Cline, 2018 Teacher of the Year, Oak Valley Elementary

“We all love the start of school because it means we get a fresh start. All of us begin with a plan in our minds of what we want to change to make this the best school year ever. Think about the plan you have made, be specific about how you are going to do it, and then hold on to it.” - Kelly Choi, 2014 Teacher of the Year, Dos Pueblos High School

“There will come a point where you will become overwhelmed, afraid, lost, or even scared. You are not alone. Everyone will face this. Don’t let it own you.” - Glynda Maddaleno, 2018 Crystal Apple Recipient, Delta High School

For parents/guardians:

“I believe parents/guardians who support their child's learning, school, and teachers are the ‘X factors’ that lead to success for everybody. Your impact is truly immeasurable!” - Chris Hanna, 2016 Distinguished New Educator, Ellwood Elementary

“Resist the urge to solve problems for your children. Support them finding solutions on their own and they will grow into independent, responsible thinkers. Give them the space to explore new ideas and they will find what it is in this world that they see as purpose. Inspiration is the common factor of great leaders and visionaries.” - Garson Olivieri, 2018 Performing Arts Teacher of the Year, Cabrillo High School 

For educators:

“Persevere and bring your ‘A’ game every day as you make those necessary personal connections with students. After all, they are the reason we have a passion to teach.” - Francisco Diaz Real, 2016 Distinguished Mentor, Lompoc High School 

“Remember to focus on the process instead of the product. Spend time building relationships with your students and their families.” - Janis Spracher, 2016 Distinguished Mentor, Monte Vista Elementary

“Get to know your families and your students...learn about their journeys, and be mindful that there is so much more than what meets the eye.” - Lisa Ishikawa, 2018 Crystal Apple Recipient, Cold Spring Elementary

“Let’s encourage one another to collaborate with teachers outside of our discipline(s), learn how each specialty is connected, and find ways to enrich student learning through these connections. The more we support each other, the more we support our students and grow as a learning community.” - Aniela Hoffman, 2019 Performing Arts Teacher of the Year, Arellanes Junior High School

Mandi de Witte, Santa Barbara County’s 2019 Teacher of the Year from Carpinteria High School, shared words of advice for students, teachers, and parents alike: “You are about to embark on another school year. Make the most of it by bringing your true, authentic self, promising self-compassion as you ride the wave of highs and lows the school year may bring. Set the intention of doing meaningful work, paired with time to play, rest, and spend time with those who bring you joy.”

The voices of our teachers, whose influence is immeasurable, inspire and lift us all. I join with them, and all educators countywide, in wishing our community a meaningful, productive, and successful school year.