Sommer Mendoza, a first grade teacher at South Tamarind Elementary School, has been named the 2017 Teacher of the Year by the Fontana Unified School District.
"It's a great honor, but I think it's something that every teacher deserves because we all work very hard at our job," Mendoza said.
She is pleased to be an educator in Fontana, the city where she was born and raised. She even attended South Tamarind one year while growing up.
As a child, she had dreams of becoming a lawyer, but then when she was 13 years old, she had a great experience while volunteering one summer in a FUSD elementary school class taught by her mother, Bridgette Barnett.
"That changed my mind about my career choice," Mendoza said. "My mother had a huge impact on me becoming a teacher."
In fact, some of Mendoza's cousins are also teachers.
"Mrs. Mendoza is a caring person," said David Creswell, the associate superintendent of human resources for the district. "Colleagues from every grade level seek her out for advice and guidance. Her energy is infectious. She has been able to lead her grade level to do amazing lessons and projects with students.
"You can walk inside her classroom and immediately be confronted with a stimulating learning environment. Whether students are on Sway, coding, using Thinking Maps, Skyping with other schools, or Kahooting, you can rest assured that bell-to-bell instruction is occurring. Her lessons and the student work is phenomenal. Visiting teachers have taken pictures of this high interest learning environment as a model for their classrooms."
Mendoza, who was also named the Site Teacher of the Year at South Tamarind for the second straight year, said: "I love the fact that I can be a person who can make an impact on students, either for one day or maybe for the rest of their lives."
----- ALL OF THE FUSD's Site Teachers of the Year were recognized in a ceremony on May 2. They are:
• Liliana Medina, Almond Elementary School
• Cynthia Bernal, Beech Avenue Elementary School
• Ronald Hurte, Kathy Binks Elementary School
• Kay Latonio, Canyon Crest Elementary School
• Rex Ringwood, Chaparral Elementary School
• Veronica Villasenor, Citrus Elementary School
• Jennifer Montgomery, Cypress Elementary School
• Linda Ureno-Arias, Date Elementary School
• Ana Abrego, Dolores Huerta International Academy
• Lina Patel, Dorothy Grant Elementary School
• Colleen Gerke, Hemlock Elementary School
• Dawn Millias, Juniper Elementary School
• Brianna Zapata, Live Oak Elementary School
• Dwayne Palasek, Locust Elementary School
• Amanda Pierce, Mango Elementary School
• Jennifer Molina, Maple Elementary School
• Ermelinda Ayala, North Tamarind Elementary School
• Melanie McKinney, Oak Park Elementary School
• Rosemary Lewis, Oleander Elementary School
• Erika Kurth, Palmetto Elementary School
• Sarah Heywood, Poplar Elementary School
• Elizabeth Fredendall, Ted Porter Elementary School
• Melissa Rodriguez, Primrose Elementary School
• Daphne Staricka, Randall Pepper Elementary School
• Ashley Milakovich, Redwood Elementary School
• Andrea McClure, Shadow Hills Elementary School
• Cecilia Reynoso, Sierra Lakes Elementary School
• Sommer Mendoza, South Tamarind Elementary School
• Michelle Cardenas, Tokay Elementary School
• Geoffrey Watkins, West Randall Elementary School
• Dilene Rosenbrock, Alder Middle School
• Andrea Nicely, Almeria Middle School
• Greg Nelson, Fontana Middle School
• Wendy Davis, Wayne Ruble Middle School
• Travis Beery, Sequoia Middle School
• Brian Connor, Southridge Middle School
• John Brunner, Truman Middle School
• James Ana, Fontana A.B. Miller High School
• Caron Tomlin, Birch High School
• Jane Warner, Citrus High School
• Linda Jillson, Fontana High School
• Ruzanna Hernandez, Jurupa Hills High School
• Amanda Garcia, Kaiser High School
• Ray Brinkle, Summit High School
• Francisco Garcia-Puga, Preschool - Tokay
• Lisa Pinell-Hernandez, Fontana Adult School.