San Diego County Teachers of the Year are honored, including language arts, science, PE instructors

Cox San Diego County Office of Education
(l-r) Stephanie Cluxton, Jacqueline Ma, Aimee McCoy, Juanita Nuñez and Melissa Rains. Photo:

Five local educators representing schools in San Diego and North and South County have been named San Diego County Teachers of the Year.

Officials named the honorees Friday as part of the 32nd annual Cox Presents: Salute to Teachers presented in part by the San Diego County Office of Education (SDCOE).

Teachers of the year 2022-23:

  • Stephanie CluxtonTorrey Hills School, San Diego, part of the Del Mar Union School District, described an educator who “strives to create a classroom environment where students take ownership of their learning, deepen their curiosity and discover their talents.”
  • Jacqueline Ma, Lincoln Acres Elementary, National City, National School District. She has led a schoolwide STEM improvement plan, bringing in outside organizations — including the Salk Institute, Scripps Institution of Oceanography and the San Diego Zoo — and providing opportunities for students to interact with professionals.
  • Aimee McCoy, Mesa Verde High School, Poway Unified School District, who believes that allowing students to “feel valued by sharing and asking questions” is essential to the success of the entire classroom.
  • Juanita Nunez, Ocean View Hills, Sunset, Smythe, Willow and La Mirada elementary schools, San Ysidro School District. Nuñez, the daughter of farm workers, engages 370 students each week in 80-minute “Sci-Phy” classes, combining science and physical education lessons.
  • Melissa Rains, Castle Park Middle School, Chula Vista, Sweetwater Union High School District, which greets science students with a “Question of the Day” designed to gauge how they feel. The answers drive the first topic of conversation when the class begins and the group goes into a “mindful moment” before the first lesson.

“The teachers we are celebrating here tonight are innovators in what they do and passionate about the students they serve,” said Dr. Paul Gothold, San Diego County Superintendent of Schools. “It is an honor to know these wonderful educators and individuals.”

Five Teachers of the Year will represent the district in the California Teacher of the Year program. State winners will be announced next month.

In partnership with SDCOE, Cox will produce a one-hour television special to recognize local teachers, highlight Teachers of the Year and share highlights from the reception. The show, hosted by Food Network personality and San Diego Magazine owner Troy Johnson, will air at 9pm on October 2 on the YurView Network (Cox Channel 4) and will be repeated several times in October and November.

The honorees were selected from among 40 teachers nominated by their school district. Winners were selected based on a review of their applications and interviews by a panel consisting of former District Teachers of the Year, the district and county education administrators’ office and a PTA representative.

They were selected based on school and community involvement, teaching philosophy, knowledge of current educational issues and trends, promotion and development of the teaching profession, school culture, and ability to serve as education ambassadors.

Since 1974, 191 teachers have been named county teachers of the year. Of those, 23 were named California Teacher of the Year and three were named National Teacher of the Year.

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