Fantastic Four: West Contra Costa Public Ed Fund Announces Teaching Excellence Winners
One has been teaching for 30-plus years; another is in their third year of teaching, and two others are approaching a decade. One deals with words, the other with actions. Another teaches the District’s oldest students, while the other introduces the littlest ones to the world of K-12 education.
But as different as the teachers from Helms Middle School, Richmond and Pinole Valley high schools and Nystrom Elementary School are, they share four things in common.
- Love teaching
- Love learning
- Love watching their students grow
- They are all The West Contra Costa Public Education Fund's 2019 Teaching Excellence award winners.
Nystrom Elementary School Kindergarten teacher Fernanda Gonzalez Hausske, Pinole Valley High School Health Sciences teacher Dan O’Shea, Richmond High School English teacher Madison Schmalz, and Helms Middle School Physical Education teacher Doug Silva were all surprised by a small contingent of District officials, Ed Fund members, principals, fellow teachers, and family with the announcement on Thursday morning.
"Today is a such a great day because we are not only celebrating the great things happening in our classrooms by these fantastic teachers, but it also shows how this is truly a schoolwide effort ," Superintendent Matthew Duffy said. "All four of the schools where these wonderful people teach have great leaders, cultures, and staff that are doing everything they can for students."
All four teachers will be celebrated at Ed Fund's annual Soaring to Excellence Celebration from 6:30 pm to 9 pm on Friday, May 10 at the Bridge Storage and Artspace, 23 Maine Ave. in Richmond.
Thursday the quartet received a snippet of what is to come. Dan O’Shea, Douglas Silva, and Madison Schmalz were all treated to music celebrations by their respective school bands, and all four award winners were surprised by family members and presented with a personalized Teaching Excellence Banner.
Two of the four winners, Dan O’Shea and Doug Silva, were also selected as the District’s Teachers of the Year and will move on to the Contra Costa County competition.
The four teachers were selected from a pool of eight finalist that included Richmond High School's Rich Seeber, Harding Elementary School's Anne-Marie Pine, De Anza High School's Avilee Goodwin, and Nystrom Elementary School's Erica Sheltry. All eight finalists were nominated by colleagues and were interviewed and observed by a panel of District and Ed Fund staff members.
Meet the four winners.
Fernanda Gonzalez Hausske, Nystrom Elementary, Kindergarten
Ms. Gonzalez-Hausske is in her second year in the District and has been teaching for three years total. She loves data and her student’s intrinsic motivation to learn. When asked about her teaching beliefs and why she does it, she responded on her nomination application with the following:
"Children in my class look at their own tracking sheet and say, 'Teacher, ask me this one. I know this one,' which builds both their sense of pride, but also their metacognitive skills. They have come to understand and internalize what it means to know something. And that is a beautiful thing."
Dan O'Shea, Pinole Valley High School, Health Sciences
Mr. O'Shea is in his 33rd year with the District and started his career before the world wide web became a thing. Mr. O’Shea said that he has become familiar with new technology over the years and adapted his teaching to fit the times and his students.
"I try to provide a classroom environment that is clean safe and where learning is a priority. I engage students and make them responsible for their own learning experience by providing as many challenging activities and lesson plans."
Madison Schmalz, Richmond High School, English Language Arts
Ms. Schmalz is in her sixth year with the District and ninth year teaching overall. She has taught in a variety of setting before coming to Richmond, including a juvenile detention center, a special day class, and as an Autism Behavior Analyst. Ms. Schmalz’s experience have provided her with a special insight about learning which she applies daily.
"I believe that creating lessons that have content directly related to what students are experiencing and seeing in their daily lives is the best way to help them learn academic skills including analysis, critical thinking, and reading. More, importantly, it helps them understand what is going on in the world around them and allows them to see how they can engage in a positive, constructive manner."
Doug Silva, Helms Middle School, Physical Education
Mr. Silva is in his third year in the District and ninth year teaching overall. He is a big proponent of creating a safe environment for students that translates beyond his class to the schoolwide culture. Mr. Silva loves to tie physical education to other subjects and plans cross curricular activities. His goal is to create positive experiences and help students feel connected to each other and their school community.
"When a student leads part of the lesson, they gain personal pride. When students work together to accomplish a goal, smiles happen."