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Contra Costa County School Districts Announce 2020-2021 Teachers of the Year

May 20, 2020

Thomas BarberDiablo Valley College would like to congratulate Thomas Barber for being recognized as one of the 2020-2021 Contra Costa County Teachers of the Year. Tom is a professor of English at Diablo Valley College in Pleasant Hill, California.

Recently, the school districts in Contra Costa County proudly submitted their 2020-2021 Teacher of the Year (TOY) candidates to the Contra Costa County Office of Education (CCCOE). The newly honored teachers are not only recognized for their outstanding education achievements, but they also represent the approximately 8,600 teachers educating more than 177,000 students in Contra Costa County’s public schools.

Currently, the upcoming school year’s 22 TOYs represent 17 (of 18) Contra Costa County school districts, the Contra Costa Community College District, and the Contra Costa County Office of Education. Most of these representatives, those who teach grades K thru 12, are eligible to compete in the Contra Costa County TOY competition. The two top teachers in the county TOY program will represent Contra Costa County in the California State TOY Program this coming fall.

“We are extremely proud of the Teachers of the Year, Class of 2020-2021,” reports Contra Costa County Superintendent of Schools Lynn Mackey. “When you review their TOY applications and their heartfelt letters of recommendation, it is quite evident that these teachers were thoughtfully selected to represent their schools and school districts, while at the same time truly embody what is best about public education in Contra Costa County.”

The county’s TOY program is coordinated by the CCCOE, and the judging usually combines a three-stage selection process, with a point and percentage system to determine the final candidates. But due to the Covid-19 emergency, this year’s selection process is the following:

I. Application Screening:

During the weeks of April 27-May 8, a committee of 15 judges, representing the county’s education, business, and public-sector partners carefully reviewed the TOY representative applications submitted by their school districts. This committee independently read and rated each application, privately from their homes or offices. After the application screening and scoring are completed, four teachers will be selected to advance to the next two phases as finalists. The four finalists are expected to be announced on Thursday, May 14.

II. Interview:

On, or around, May 28, a small committee of education specialists and former Teachers of the Year will interview the candidates separately and online, discussing topics such as their teaching philosophy and techniques.

III. Speech Presentation:

On July 24, the four TOY finalists will each give a three- to five-minute speech to another panel of a dozen educators, business, and public-sector representatives who will judge the finalists on their speech and presentation skills.

Announcement of the two 2020-2021 Contra Costa County Teachers of the Year will take place at the tentatively planned Teacher of the Year Dinner Gala, to be held at the Hilton Concord on September 24th, pending the COVID-19 Shelter in Place directive from county health.

Note regarding eligible participants:
  • Seventeen of the eighteen Contra Costa County school districts represented, and the CCCOE are participating in this year’s TOY program.
  • Each year, one instructor from Contra Costa Community College District is submitted to the TOY program for his/her outstanding body of work with their designated college. The colleges rotate each year between Diablo Valley, Los Medanos, and Contra Costa. (These instructors do not compete in the State Teacher of the Year competition.) This year is Diablo Valley College’s turn.
  • Due to the larger number of students and teachers in their districts, West Contra Costa USD, Mt. Diablo USD, and San Ramon Valley USD are allowed to submit two TOY candidates.

Tom is honored to be recognized as a Contra Costa County Teacher of the Year. "I was lucky to be surrounded by such enthusiastic and inspirational colleagues.  They inspired me every day."