PALMDALE — Highland High School teacher Timothy Green and Keppel Academy teacher Annie Paliza are among the 10 Los Angeles County Teachers of the Year, representing the best in the profession for the 2020-21 academic year.

Los Angeles County Superintendent of Schools Debra Duardo announced the outstanding educators during a virtual ceremony broadcast on social media Thursday afternoon.

“During this time of extraordinary challenges to our school communities, it is especially important that we pay tribute to our outstanding teachers who, in the face of a pandemic, are bringing care, compassion and  ingenuity to their virtual classrooms,” Duardo said in a statement. “I am truly impressed by their innovative practices and the partnerships they are building to keep students learning and thriving.”

Green was also named Antelope Valley Union High School District’s Teacher of Year; Paliza was named Keppel Union School District’s Teacher of the Year. 

Green, an educator for about 20 years, teaches the fire and emergency medicine program at Highland High.

“It is pretty neat,”he said. “I think about all the students and all the work they did. I mean, the kids did a ton of work to get this honor.”

Green was selected as Highland High School’s Teacher of the Year by his peers, before he moved to the district level.

“I think as educators, we’re kind of in our own world with our students,” he said. “A lot of times, we don’t realize the impact we have around other educators. I spend my day talking to teenagers as opposed to talking to grown-ups. When an honor like this comes around, it’s a little bit unexpected because we’re usually not out there together as teachers as often as you would think. This is kind of a proud moment in my career to be able to represent all of us at the county level.”

A co-worker who nominated Green for the AV Union High School District Teacher of the Year honor wrote: “It is the consistent energy and passion that he brings to his work each and every single day that gives him the superior ability to inspire the love of learning in students of all backgrounds, regardless of socio-economic status, sex, gender, ethnicity, sexual preference, etc. He walks through those classroom doors with the singular goal to inspire.”

Paliza teaches English and Advancement Via Individual Determination at Keppel Academy.

“I am very excited to represent my students, Keppel Academy and my district as a Los Angeles County Teacher of the year!” she wrote in an email. “Honestly, during this challenging time of distance learning I think ALL teachers are Teachers of the Year and I share this honor with everyone in the teaching profession! I am grateful for having had 23 exciting years of teaching in a wonderful community and appreciate the support of my family, my students, their families, fellow staff members, administrators, my superintendent, and the school Board. We are all in this together working hard to make the world a better place.”

Isaac Diaz, one of her former students, is now in his final year at San Diego State University, ready to graduate with a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering.

“One of the best decisions I made at the start of high school, was because of Mrs. Paliza,” Diaz wrote in a letter of recommendation. “Though Honors English is not my forte, she empowered me to take this class and explained the difficulty I would face; though, had faith in my capacities. I passed with an A+ and I continued to register for rigorous courses because I understood my capabilities thanks to Mrs. Paliza’s teachings.” 

The 10 L.A. County Teachers of the Year were selected from a field of 48 teachers representing 44 districts who participated in the 39th annual Los Angeles County Teachers of the Year competition, organized by the Los Angeles County Office of Education.

In addition to being interviewed, contestants submitted essays, lesson plans and other materials to judging panels comprised of peers. At all levels, Teacher of the Year contests are designed to focus public attention on teaching excellence and to honor exemplary dedication, compelling classroom practices, positive accomplishments and professional commitment, according to the county.

Each will receive a cash gift of $1,000 from the California Credit Union, the program’s main sponsor. Additional sponsors include Presenting Partner Arizona State University and Lakeshore Learning.

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