Nominate an educator for Tahoe-Truckee Teacher of the Year

Katie Fagundes
Special to the Sun
From left, Truckee Hometown SEARS owner Charlie Riley, TTUSD Superintendent Rob Leri and Sierra Sun/North Lake Tahoe Bonanza Publisher Michael Gelbman (far right) congratulated the 2013-14 Teacher of the Year, Jennifer Dewald, at a ceremony in June at the Sun's Truckee office.
File photo |

TAHOE-TRUCKEE — The Truckee Hometown SEARS-Sierra Sun/North Lake Tahoe Bonanza Teacher of the Year program has helped recognize the efforts of 29 area educators the past three years.

Each year, the Teacher of the Year committee seeks nominations from the community of outstanding Truckee-Tahoe area teachers.

Parents, students and colleagues have nominated educators who they see make a difference in the lives of students each day.

Many of these teachers not only impact their students in the classroom, but provide opportunities to extend their students’ learning with creative community projects and collaborations.

Finalists have represented elementary schools, middle schools, high schools and colleges. These educators have all had a lasting impact on the lives of students, families and community members.

As the Teacher of the Year committee begins to sift through this year’s nominees, members have asked program sponsors, past winners and community leaders to share examples of teachers who have had a lasting impact on their lives.

Program sponsor Charlie Riley, owner of Truckee Hometown SEARS, always remembers his high school teacher, Mr. Stobie who helped shape who he is today.

Not only did Stobie teach Riley about music and art appreciation, he taught values and community.

“As head of the music department he did a lot more than teach music,” said Riley. “While he never was able to correct my singing off key, he impressed on me the value of hard work, caring about others, respect, an appreciation for music, reading and in general doing the right thing.”

Last year’s Teacher of the Year winner, Jenni Dewald, of Truckee Elementary, is thankful for her ninth-grade English teacher, Mr. Breen, who inspired her.

She remembers him being smart, passionate, curious and intense.

“He was clear on what was right and what was wrong and he held us accountable,” said Dewald. “He set high expectations and I wanted to meet them.”

Breen had a lasting impact on Dewald’s life because he was the first teacher to show her what learning could be like “on a higher level.”

Dewald remembers reading quality literature, having thorough discussions, learning tons of vocabulary and experiencing the elevated culture of the classroom.

Robert Leri, superintendent of Tahoe Truckee Unified School District, had many influential teachers in his life. Two who stand out were Mrs. Lenahan and Mr.Oudegest.

“Mrs. Lenahan introduced literature in ways that compelled us to want to read regularly for both academics and pleasure,” said Leri. “From Mr. Oudegest, I really learned the art and craft of writing and the ability to tap into our imagination and creativity.”

The love of reading and the ability to write effectively serve Leri today in his personal and professional life, he said.

This year, the Teacher of the Year program will recognize 10 community educators, spotlighting their careers and efforts in the classroom.

The selection committee is still requesting nominations from the community.

“The Sierra Sun and North Lake Tahoe Bonanza are very excited to be part of the Teacher of the Year program again this year,” said Micheal Gelbman, publisher of both papers. “It is important that we continue to recognize the work our teachers are doing in encouraging, enhancing and empowering our youth. Having teachers who are passionate about what they do can really change how a student connects with the content they are learning, and that can lead to great things.”

Nominations can be emailed to: or dropped off at Truckee Hometown SEARS at 2047 Donner Pass Road.

To date, the Truckee Hometown SEARS-Sierra Sun/North Lake Tahoe Bonanza Teacher of the Year program has recognized the following teachers. The committee would like to thank them for their continued impact on students, families and the community: Dave Goggin, Yvonne Logan, Taylor Strong, Ashley Staron, Lindee Eckert, Jane Miller, Jason Tracy, Jennifer Dewald, Jill Zapata, Rita Whitaker-Haun, Kurt Heisinger, Eric Harrsema, Judy Finney, Erin Robb, Jeni Cross, Julie Miescke, Suzanne Beye, Molly Holiday, Theresa Charter, Julia Lawrence, Mary Bockius, Eric Rohlf, Joanne Haddy, Lisa Furr, Katie Jamison, Michelle Reed, Amalia Niewendorp, Neysa Williams and Diane Laroche.

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