Teacher of the Year | Seventh Teacher of the Year finalist selected | SierraSun.com

Teacher of the Year | Seventh Teacher of the Year finalist selected

Katie Fagundes
Special to the Sun
Charlie Riley, owner of Truckee Hometown Sears and TOY finalist Jason Tracy with Joanna Mitchell, NTHS principal and Michael Gelbman, publisher Sierra Sun/North Tahoe Bonanza.
Courtesy photo |

TAHOE, Calif. — North Tahoe High School teacher Jason Tracy has been selected as the seventh Teacher of the Year finalist.

As a special education teacher, Tracy’s support is critical to his students’ success. The selection committee was impressed by Tracy’s ability to not only help students in the special education program, but connect with students campus wide.

“He provides a structured, stimulating, and nurturing environment for his student to learn, grow, challenge himself, and socialize,” wrote one nominator.

On March 4, program sponsors Charlie Riley owner of Truckee Hometown SEARS and Michael Gelbman publisher of the Sierra Sun/North Lake Tahoe Bonanza presented Tracy with a finalist award certificate and gifts from program sponsors.

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“It is great to recognize another teacher who is ensuring all Tahoe/Truckee students have access to a quality education,” said Riley.

Jason Tracy always strives to take opportunities as they present themselves. Growing up in Southern California’s Frasier Park, he did not have specific plans to become a teacher. One day he ran into a former teacher at the pharmacy who suggested he work as a substitute. From that day forward he has been looking for ways to develop his craft as a teacher and continues to be open to new opportunities.

Tracy worked as a long-term substitute, then taught two years at a continuation high school, before moving to Southern Oregon to work for a mental health nonprofit. He quickly became the supervisor of their psychiatric residential treatment facility for young adults.

After realizing he would like to get back into the classroom, Tracy switched positions and became a school-based mental health care worker.

While working in Oregon, Tracy learned about the Collaborative Problem Solving (CPS) approach. The CPS model addresses behavioral challenges by teaching children cognitive skills. His experience using CPS motivated him to earn a special education credential from California State University, Humboldt, and use CPS as a teacher.


Tracy then found himself facing another unexpected opportunity. While attending a job fair in Chico, Calif. Tracy met Tom Gemma from TTUSD human resources. Tracy had gone to the job fair with a plan. He had researched schools, prepared resumes and was just leaving when he saw the TTUSD table.

Luckily, he had taken one extra resume and upon meeting Gemma, realized TTUSD would be a great place for him to teach.

Tracy has been excited to teach his first year at North Tahoe High School. He particularly enjoys the freedom and creativity found in special education teaching.

“The nature of special education is that it is different,” said Tracy. “It gives latitude and freedom to take a different approach to instruction, there is an individualized approach to every kid.”

Tracy uses this freedom to create a program tailored to students’ specific needs. His work at North Tahoe High School has not only been effective, but has made him stand out as a teacher worthy of recognition.

North Tahoe High School principal Joanna Mitchell describes Tracy as easy-going and compassionate.


“Jason Tracy is a teacher who brings genuine joy and passion to his work every day,” said Mitchell. “His knowledge, skill, and ability to connect with students is evident in all he does; he is a treasure, and we hope to keep him at North Tahoe High School for many years to come.”

Tracy feels honored and humbled by this award, and was surprised and excited to be recognized.

He has had a great first year teaching in TTUSD, and credits much of his success to his supportive colleagues and the Collaborative Problem Solving program.

“Everyone in the district are really highly competent, great people to work with, there is so much expertise,” said Tracy. “It is a very supportive environment; there can be no better place to be starting out as a special education teacher.”

The Truckee Hometown SEARS-Sierra Sun/North Lake Tahoe Bonanza Teacher of the Year award is made possible by the following sponsors: Mountain Hardware & Sports, Tahoe Truckee Brokers, Tahoe Dave’s Skis and Boards, The Office BOSS, Sierra Nevada College, McDonald’s Truckee, Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows Ski Resorts. Next time you are in one of their stores, businesses, or resorts, please be sure to thank them for their generous support of the Teacher of the Year program and their commitment to recognizing some of the many outstanding teachers in the North Lake Tahoe/Truckee community.

To nominate your teacher for the Truckee Hometown SEARS-Sierra Sun/North Lake Tahoe Bonanza Teacher of the Year award email tahoetruckeeteacheroftheyear@gmail.com or bring nominations to the Truckee Hometown SEARS store 12047 Donner Pass Road.


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