Teachers of the Year Have Excellence In Common


From counseling pregnant high school students to stay in school to initiating a program in which 6,500 children participate in a physical fitness week, the 1996 county Teachers of the Year--honored Friday at a luncheon here--are a diverse group.

The common characteristic, according to Mike Alexander, a spokesman for the Los Angeles County Office of Education, is their commitment to excellence.

“The award is for nothing more concrete than excellence in teaching,” Alexander said. “It’s a celebration of excellence”

The 57 teachers--including a dozen from the San Fernando, Santa Clarita and Antelope valleys--were chosen by their school district teaching peers. Los Angeles County comprises 82 school districts, some of which did not choose a teacher of the year.


For Burbank School District’s Linda M. Pincu, teaching her subjects at Monterey High School is just a small part of her job.

“Counseling, befriending and parenting students have allowed me to accomplish a great deal more that teach science,” she wrote in her Teacher of the Year profile. “By encouraging a girl to graduate, instead of dropping out of school and getting a job as a solution to a life crisis, I have acted as a parent when there was none.”

Also tapped for teachers of the year were Lancaster’s Jean Dinsmoor, a resource specialist; Castaic Union’s Wendy Nelson, a kindergarten teacher; Acton-Agua Dulce’s Kari M. Walliser, a fourth-grade teacher; Antelope Valley Union’s Austine M. Perry, a business teacher, and Glendale Unified’s Kathleen Collins, who runs the pregnant minors program.

Other teachers of the year are Saugus Union’s Christine Ann Hankla, a kindergarten teacher; Palmdale’s Gerald N. Farrell, an English and history teacher; William S. Hart Union’s David Crissman, a biology teacher; Westside Union’s Cindy Davis Betzer, an art teacher, and Wilsona’s Thomas Allen Jay, a fourth-grade teacher.

Las Virgenes’ Sandra Fleishman, who teaches fifth grade, was not only her school district’s Teacher of the Year, but also one of five teachers of the year statewide.