During a surprise visit to her sixth period classroom at Analy High School on Thursday afternoon, a dozen school administrators burst through the door and informed social sciences teacher Rachel Ambrose that she was being named the Sonoma County Office of Education Teacher of the Year.
In recognition of this achievement, Ambrose will receive a $3,000 award from Community First Credit Union, season tickets to the Santa Rosa Symphony and will be up against about 80 other teachers in the state for the California Teacher of the Year.
Analy principal Raul Guerrero, who nominated Ambrose for the award, said she deserves recogntion for her leadership and innovative approaches that make her students’ education as timely, relevant and meaningful.
“Rachel demonstrates an exemplary work ethic and dedication to education in the classroom and beyond,” Guerrero said.
Carrying fistfulls of bouncing balloons and a bunch of roses, a number of education officials walked into her classroom unannounced and informed her of the Sonoma County award. Those on hand included Guerrero, county schools superintendent Steven Herrington, high school district superintendent Steven Kellner, and school board members David Stecher and Ted Walker.
Ambrose is credited with implementing Analy’s first ethnic studies class and has advised other districts on how they might do the same. Ironically, the ninth grade social sciences class she teaches will no longer be an Analy graduation requirement as it will be a victim of budget cuts next year, although it will be offered as an elective.
Ambrose also instituted a "Woke Wednesdays" series of guest speakers on topics of interest to her ethnic studies students, including DACA, LGBTQ rights, Islamophobia and police brutality. She serves as adviser to the school newspaper Tiger Times and takes teams to History Day competitions.
“Our reviewers were particularly impressed with Rachel’s commitment to promoting equity, empathy and civic engagement,” said Herrington. “In these challenging times, these skills are critical to the success of our youth and society as a whole.”
Watch the surprise unfold on the Press Democrat video on YouTube: https://bit.ly/2JFXv14