For the second straight year, the Mill Valley and San Rafael chambers of commerce have partnered with Redwood Credit Union, Bank of Marin and others to honor teachers at the Excellence in Education Awards at what was a beautiful, virtual event earlier this week. You can see the full list of honorees at left.
The virtual celebration Marin County Superintendent of Schools Mary Jane Burke celebrating and interviewing each of the eight recipients, including Mill Valley Middle School Library Media Teacher Jonna Palmer and Old Mill Elementary School First Grade Teacher Sara Fortine.
According to Mill Valley Middle School Principal Anna Lazzarini, Palmer “is an extraordinary educator. She is an exemplary library media teacher who collaborates with all of the middle school teachers to create relevant, meaningful projects for different classes and different subject areas. Jonna not only collaborates with teachers in creating exciting and engaging projects, she is always willing to volunteer her time as a teacher leader in many different capacities. She is usually the first one to reach out to new teachers to see how they can work together to create a project in their subject area. Jonna also teaches Journalism Club to students, meeting with them weekly, teaching them how to ask questions and write articles, and produces multiple editions of our student newspaper, Panther Prints, each year. She does all of this on top of her normal duties as a library media teacher, curating books, giving book talks, getting authors to come visit our school, Skyping with a journalist so that students can hear and see what is like to be a journalist in another country, as well as having students become digital and video pen pals with students in two other countries. Through all that she does, you will not find a more intelligent, resourceful, thoughtful, kind, or empathetic educator anywhere!”
Old Mill Elementary School Principal Jason Matlon calls Fortine “a standout first grade teacher at Old Mill Elementary. Originally from Seattle, Sara has taught for over 22 years with 16 of these years happening in Room 5 at Old Mill. When visiting her classroom, one is immediately struck by the warmth and enthusiasm that she has for her job. During a challenging year, the light and joy that Sara brings into the classroom and hallways of Old Mill each and every day invigorates and inspires both her students and colleagues. Sara approaches her teaching as a partnership with the students and loves being part of those magical moments when a student discovers a new idea or masters a new skill. It is not unusual for Sara to work deep into the evening to finish up the day’s work and plan the next. Her attention to detail and thoughtful customization of her students’ learning experiences is extraordinary. Forward-thinking and tech-savvy, Sara’s lesson design allows engaged thinkers to appropriately challenge themselves and take intellectual risks within the safety net of her nurturing classroom. And in addition to her work with her own students, Sara serves as a team leader and a generous collaborator with her colleagues. Her overall excellence and deep dedication to her students and the Old Mill community distinguishes Sara amongst an already distinguished staff.”