Salute to teachers — Healdsburg School families participated in a social distancing mobile parade on May 5 to celebrate teachers on National Teacher Day. Students held signs from their cars and teachers stood outside 10 feet apart with masks to wave to their students.


Correction: The May 8 article, “Local schools find ways to celebrate teachers” incorrectly only named Healdsburg High School math teacher, Jamie Atwood, as Teacher of the Year. All of the teachers recognized by the Rotary in the article are considered Teacher of the Year for their respective schools. We apologize for the mistake and want to recognize all of the teachers in this article for their dedication and hard work.

The week of May 4 is Teacher Appreciation Week and May 5 marks National Teacher Day, and so in celebration, several local schools made an effort to honor the work of Healdsburg teachers.

The Healdsburg Sunrise Rotary Club held a virtual teacher recognition awards event on May 6, and named Healdsburg High School math teacher Jamie Atwood “Teacher of the Year,” and recognized several other Healdsburg Unified School District (HUSD) teachers. Separately on May 5, private K-8 school, The Healdsburg School, celebrated teachers with a colorful mobile parade at its campus garden in Healdsburg.

Teacher of the Year

This year, the Healdsburg Sunrise Rotary Club named several Healdsburg teachers, “Teacher of the year.” The club recognized Healdsburg High School math teacher, Jamie Atwood, Healdsburg Junior High School sixth grade English/Spanish teacher Cynthia Gouig, Healdsburg Elementary Fitch Mountain Campus fifth grade math and science teacher Denell Nunez, Healdsburg Elementary School kindergarten teacher Emily Peterson and West Side School second grade teacher Beth Mendez.

Atwood has been teaching at Healdsburg High for three years and has taught Integrated Math II, Integrated Math III, Pre-Calculus and Financial Algebra.

Healdsburg High School Principal Bill Halliday said of Atwood, “Ms. Atwood is a veteran and a distinguished teacher who immediately became a respected and trusted member of our faculty. The strength of Ms. Atwood’s teacher is based on two founding principles: a deep and comprehensive knowledge of her subject area, and a compassionate approach to building positive relationships with students.”

In his nomination letter, Halliday added that Atwood has the masterful ability of making the subject matter meaningful and relevant for her students.

“Healdsburg High School is proud to have Ms. Atwood as a member of our faculty,” Halliday wrote.

Sixth grade English and Spanish teacher, Gouig, has been teaching at Healdsburg Junior High for nine years.

In a nomination letter from Healdsburg Junior High School Principal Chris Miller, Miller said Gouig works great with other colleagues and is extremely passionate about what she teaches.

In the same letter, one of her students said she creates a great classroom environment and that her classes are fun and challenging at the same time.

Denell has been a teacher in Healdsburg since 1994 and has taught first, second, third, sixth and fifth grade, which she currently teaches. She has taught in the accelerated English program for English language learners and has become a science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) specialist.

Denell was nominated for teacher of the year by Fitch Mountain Principal Erika McGuire, who said Denell is committed regardless of the task she is given.

Peterson was nominated by Healdsburg Elementary School Principal Jeff Franey, who cited her compassion and positivity. In his nomination letter, Franey said recently, Peterson has been spending time doing social distancing “front yard” visits with her students to connect with them during this difficult time.

At the West Side Union School District, West Side School Principal and Superintendent Kris Menlove, wanted to recognize second grade teacher, Mendez. Menlove said Mendez is loved by both staff, families and students and excels in developing self confidence in students while nurturing and inspiring them.

In her nomination letter, Menlove shared a sweet quote from a student about Mendez, “Ms. Mendez is nice and funny and kind. She’s a great teacher. She helps me when I’m not sure, which makes me feel good.”

Celebrating teachers at The Healdsburg School

Traditionally, The Healdsburg School has hosted a parent-organized lunch for teachers on Teacher Appreciation Day, however this year, the school had to get creative in order to honor their teachers.

On May 5, Healdsburg School families participated in a colorful mobile parade circling the campus garden. Teachers wore masks and stood 10 feet apart while students held up hand-painted signs from inside cars.

One family even decorated their car with a Hawaiian theme and had grass and flowers strung along the outside and strapped a giant fluffy teddy bear to the roof.

In a press release from The Healdsburg School, fourth grade associate teacher Jessica Weinman said of the event, “My heart is full again after seeing our students in person.”

The head of the school, Andy Davies, even made an appearance with a “THS Strong” sign to say “Hi” to teachers and students from a socially safe distance.

“The strength of community has guided THS since its founding. Today we saw that in the faces of children, parents, faculty and staff and felt it in our hearts,” Davies said. 

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