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2011 Riverside County Teachers of the Year Selected

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Riverside County Superintendent of Schools Kenneth M. Young this week announced the 2011 Riverside County Teachers of the Year. “These three teachers represent some of the best and brightest of the extraordinary teachers who are committed to providing the highest quality education possible to our students in Riverside County,” Young said. “We salute them for the work they do for our children.”

The teachers are:

Melissa Casady is an English teacher at Great Oak High School in Temecula. She has been a teacher for nine years, starting at Chaparral High School, also in the Temecula Valley Unified School District. She earned her bachelor’s degree from Cal State San Marcos. She is a master teacher in English, a Beginning Teacher mentor, yearbook adviser and Co- Department Chair in English. She has been the California Coastal Credit Union Teacher of the Month, a Crystal Apple nominee, and Renaissance Teacher of the Year in 2009.

Nominators said Casady “is one of the best. She is an outstanding teacher and leader who has made her mark in the lives of her students and a positive influence on all those that work with her.”

Ruth Prystash is a Special Education Teacher for the Riverside County Office of Education at the Rob Reiner Center in Perris. She has been a teacher for 30 years, six at Rob Reiner. She was a Special Education teacher in Orient, Ohio, San Diego, Lemon Grove, Grand Terrace and Temecula. She has worked as an autism consultant, lead teacher for the Reach Autism Program, and an instructor at UCR. She earned her bachelors degree at Stanford, and completed her graduate work at Ohio State University and Point Loma Nazarene College in San Diego. She is a volunteer for the Inland Empire Autism Society Social Group for Teens, the Story Lady at Barnes and Noble, and a performer with the Blues Mothers. Nominators said Prystash founded Reach, a model autism program that has expanded to 28 programs across the county. More than 200 educators have visited her classroom. Nominators said “Ruth’s talents, abilities, and vision have served as a foundation for the quality autism programs for which Riverside County has become renowned. Her life is a testament to her beliefs in assisting special needs students.”

Kevin Roughton teaches Social Studies and AVID (Advancement Via Individual Determination), a program that prepares and encourages students to attend college, in the seventh grade at Jurupa Middle School. He has been a teacher for seven years. He earned his bachelor’s degree at Cal State San Bernardino.

He is a member of the National Educators Association, Christian Educators Association International, and was the 2010 Jurupa Middle School Teacher of the Year.

Nominators said “no other teacher cares and fights more diligently for the well being of his students…His guidance towards school and college has been a decision maker for my children to strive on attending a four year college.”

These three teachers will represent more than 18,000 teachers from Riverside County’s 23 local school districts in the 2011 state Teacher of the Year competition.

Winners are typically announced in November. One of the state winners will enter the National Teacher of the Year contest, to be announced next May.

County winners are chosen by a selection committee, which includes former Teachers of the Year. The selection is based on information from nominators and site visits.

Locally, the 2011 Riverside County Teachers of the Year will be honored with administrators, confidential and classified employees in May 2011 at the Celebrating Educators event held in Riverside.

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