Sonoma County Office of Education

Geyserville's Jesus Fernandez named Sonoma County Teacher of the Year for 2021-22

08/30/2022 -

Jesus FernandezJesus Fernandez, who motivates his social studies students at Geyserville's New Tech Academy "to be inquisitive life-long learners," has been named Sonoma County Teacher of the Year for the 2021-22 school year.

Fernandez, a Spanish speaker and son of immigrants, seeks to center issues of equity as he works with his 7th- through 12th-grade students, about 70% of whom are Latino, he said in a personal essay. "This does not mean that I treat all students the same, but rather I provide students with additional support as needed to set them up for success."

As he seeks to build relationships with students and engage their families in learning, Fernandez leans on his own upbringing and conducts outreach, often in Spanish.

Fernandez establishes a "culture of learning ... with high expectations" for an academically diverse group of students with varied skill levels, Geyserville Unified School District Superintendent Deborah Bertolucci wrote in nominating Fernandez for the award. "Students know that Mr. Fernandez believes in them and will support them on their educational journey."

In winning the recognition, Fernandez is nominated for the State of California's Teacher of the Year program. The state Teachers of the Year are announced in September.

"Jesus Fernandez and his work embody why it is so important to hire and invest in staff who reflect the communities our schools serve," said Steven Herrington, Sonoma County superintendent of schools. "A diverse workforce is a cornerstone in connecting all students to learning."

To be eligible for the state award, educators must have taught for at least eight years and be employed full-time or as a long-term substitute in public or private schools. They must demonstrate leadership and innovation inside and outside the classroom that embodies lifelong learning.

Bridget Clark, a second grade teacher at Roseland Creek Elementary, was named the finalist in the Sonoma County Teacher of the Year contest. The judging panel recognized her efforts to create a welcoming and engaging classroom environment with whimsy and inspiration, infusing art across the curriculum to address students' social and emotional needs.

Two teachers, Noelle Huberty of Forestville School and Academy, and Kelly Lister of Manzanita Elementary in the Rincon Valley Union School District, received special recognition for their innovative approaches to work in a school setting.

Huberty was recognized for her work to blend the best distance and in-person learning practices to create a cohesive, family-like atmosphere for students. The judging panel praised the level of access she gave parents to the information students are learning in school.

The judges honored Lister for developing and implementing a school-wide intervention program to help students accelerate their learning as they returned to campus from distance learning during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Fernandez's Teacher of the Year recognition comes with a $3,000 cash award from Community First Credit Union and a $500 gift card to the Luther Burbank Center. Clark, the finalist, receives $2,000 from Community First and a $250 gift card, while Huberty and Lister each receive $750 for their recognition.

Fernandez and Clark will be recognized at the Sonoma County chapter of the Association of California School Administrators' administrative kickoff event on Sept. 22.

The Sonoma County honorees were selected from among 20 who were nominated for Sonoma County Teacher of the Year.

Learn more about the Sonoma County Teacher of the Year program at