The Central California Chinese Cultural Center has again honored three Tulare County teachers and two of the teachers honored are from Porterville.

Renee Carson, a sixth grade GATE teacher at Westfield Elementary School, has been selected as the Elementary Teacher of the Year and Monica Robles, a seventh and eight grade teacher at Burton Middle School has been chosen as the Middle School Teacher of the Year by the Central California Chinese Cultural Center.

Renee Thornburg, an agricultural teacher at Woodlake High School, was named as the High School Teacher of the Year.

After a three-year hiatus, the Central California Chinese Cultural Center has partnered with the Tulare County Office of Education to again honor Tulare County teachers with its 27th Confucius' Birthday/Education of the Year Awards.

On Tuesday afternoon Tulare County Superintendent of Schools Tim Hire and Chinese Cultural Center board member Wendy Jay surprised the three Tulare County teachers at their school sites, notifying them they were honored.

Chinese people around the world honor Confucius' birthday in late September by recognizing exemplary teachers. Each year the Chinese Cultural Center holds a dinner at their facilities in Visalia to honor one elementary, one middle, and one high school teacher.

This year's dinner will be held on September 21 in which educators, families and friends will be invited to honor the three teachers.

This year’s winners are exceptional teachers who have a gift for engaging students in real world learning,” Hire said. “The positive difference they make in the lives of their students will be remembered for years to come.”

Carson is a veteran educator with 31 years of teaching experience. “She is able to uniquely challenge her students each day, working together with them to make sense of the content and have robust discussions on a wide array of topics,” TCOE stated. “Although Mrs. Carson is a veteran teacher, she continues to expand her craft for the benefit of her students.

She has the same expectations of herself as she does for her students — continue to learn and share that knowledge with others. As a result, parents feel they have a true partnership in educating their children with Mrs. Carson.”

Westfield has been known for it success year in and year out at the Tulare County Science and Engineering Fair under Carson's direction. She has worked with many students beginning in the fourth grade who have become winners at the science fair. Carson also serves as a coach for the school's Reading Revolation team.

Mrs. Carson also has a heart for service.” TCOE stated. “Her administrator reports that she is among the first to suggest to others how to support a student, family or colleague in need. As an example, she offered the use of her home to her principal and her family when they were without water and electricity during the March 2023 flooding in Springville.”

Robles has been teaching for 13 years. Administrators have praised her for her engaging teaching methodologies, which are different from what students might expect to see in a middle school math class. TCOE stated Robles loves teaching for the “aha” moments she sees in her students as they realize new concepts.

Considered a master teacher in lesson planning, understanding data, the learning needs of her students, and transition times, Ms. Robles uses real life, hands-on lessons involving cooking and model building to engage her students,” TCOE stated. “Students are up and out of their seats, taking control of their learning and opening themselves to a growth mindset.

Through this type of instruction, Robles is able to bridge learning gaps. Students in her classrooms have shown the greatest academic gains in mathematics across the school site as she continues to push herself to grow as an educator.”

Robles serves as BMS's math department lead. “She supports her colleagues with mentorship, department structure, and a focus that all of her peers appreciate,” TCOE stated. “Ms. Robles’ colleagues consider her teaching abilities with the highest regards.”

The Chinese Cultural Center chose to celebrate local educators on Confucius’ birthday as one of its community service events and to honor the greatest educator the world has known,” Jay said. “We, as members of the board of directors, believe that education holds the key to our future. Confucius’ message of knowledge, benevolence, loyalty, and virtue not only guides the daily lives of many people in China, but other parts of the world as well.”

A tribute video profiling the three honorees will be shown at the Confucius’ Birthday dinner September 21 and available on the TCOE website afterwards. For more information on the Confucius’ Birthday/Educators of the Year Award, call Marlene Moreno, (559) 733-6302. 


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