2023 Stanislaus County Teachers of the Year Announced

The Modesto Rotary Club and the Stanislaus County Office of Education (SCOE) announced the selection of four local educators as 2023 Stanislaus County Teachers of the Year at a Rotary luncheon on May 2 at the Doubletree Hotel in ModestoIn addition, a Jane Johnston Civility Award was presented to one of the 12 finalists for exemplifying the principles of civility. “This year, SCOE received 62 nominations from public and private school principals representing 13 districts throughout the county,” said Jason Maggard, SCOE Chief of Staff. “A selection committee, composed of local Rotarians and educators, narrowed the nominations through a paper screening process and then visited the classrooms of 24 semi-finalists before narrowing it down to the 12 finalists.”

The 2023 Teachers of the Year are Jennifer Benitez from Mary Ann Sander Elementary School in the Sylvan Union School District – TK-3rd division; Sarah Flora from Walnut Elementary Education Center in the Turlock Unified School District – 4-6th division; Terry Daniels from Waterford Junior High School in the Waterford Unified School District – junior high division; and Michael Schilperoort from Downey High School in the Modesto City Schools District – high school division.

The four selected as Teachers of the Year each received a $1,000 cash award from the Modesto Rotary Club Foundation.

The Jane Johnston Civility Award was presented to Bret Shaeffer from Hughes Elementary School in the Empire Union School District. Shaeffer received a $1,000 cash award from the Education Foundation of Stanislaus County for exemplifying one of the 12 traits of civility. The Civility Award is in honor of Jane Johnston, former SCOE Assistant Superintendent and Education Foundation member.

This is the 24th year that Modesto Rotary and SCOE have joined efforts to honor teachers in Stanislaus County. The program not only honors local teachers and celebrates excellence in education but also provides an opportunity for teachers to receive state and national recognition. All four Teachers of the Year will go on to represent Stanislaus County in the State Teacher of the Year Program. One state winner then proceeds to the national level.

“It’s an honor to partner with Rotary to recognize these outstanding teachers – each who helps inspire and shape the lives of students in our county every day,” said County Superintendent of Schools Scott Kuykendall.

Sponsors of the Stanislaus County Teacher of the Year program include the Modesto Rotary Club Foundation, Stanislaus County Office of Education, and Mocse Credit Union, with additional awards provided by the Association of Stanislaus County School Boards.

To view videos of the finalist click on the following link. https://stancoe.org/go/toy 

The 2023 Teachers of the Year Finalists included:

Elementary (TK-3rd Grade) Level, School, District

  • Lauren Brown, Magnolia Elementary, Oakdale Jt. Unified
  • Kristina Hart, Hidahl Elementary, Ceres Unified

Elementary (4-6th Grade) Level, School, District

  • Bret Shaeffer, Hughes Elementary, Empire Union
  • Jeff Warn, Cardozo Middle, Riverbank Unified

Junior High Level, School, District                                       

  • Pollyanne Hicks, Ross Middle, Hughson Unified
  • Rachel Torres, Oakdale Jr. High, Oakdale Jt. Unified

High School Level, School, District

  • Brad Cornwell, Enochs High, Modesto City
  • Kelly Hayes, Whitmore Charter High, Ceres Unified



Date Published: 
Tuesday, May 2, 2023