Local educators earn top honors from county

KING CITY — A pair of educators from King City Union School District were recently recognized by the Monterey County Office of Education for their outstanding service and dedication to their students, staff and community.

Ana Alvarez, a third-grade teacher at Santa Lucia Elementary School, and Arlen Espinoza, a para-educator for the district, were named Monterey County’s 2018 Teacher of the Year and 2017 Classified School Employee of the Year, respectively, at the May 22 awards ceremony.

“This award means so much to me,” Alvarez said.

Alvarez, who was born and raised in Spain, moved to King City in 2000 with her husband and fellow teacher Juan Menendez. She taught at Del Rey Elementary School for 15 years before accepting her current position at Santa Lucia in 2015.

“I never thought that we would have stayed here all this time, but as I always tell my kids, here in King City, we have the best students and families in the world — after all, I’ve been to Spain and I know!” she said. “Having had the honor and the privilege of teaching in King City has been the greatest award of all.”

According to the county, the Teacher of the Year program honors outstanding teachers who successfully employ strategies to increase academic success and narrow the achievement gap with a range of diverse students. 

This is the second year in a row that a King City teacher has taken top honors. John Miller, a seventh-grade history teacher at Chalone Peaks Middle School, received the county’s Teacher of the Year award last year.

Alvarez will now serve as Monterey County’s representative in the 2018 California Teacher of the Year program.

Espinoza said being recognized as the county’s Para-Educator and Instructional Assistance Classified School Employee of the Year is a “very big honor for me.” She has worked for the district for seven years, teaching at Del Rey.

“The part that I love about my job is that I’m able to make a difference in a child’s life,” Espinoza said. “I want to thank everyone at Del Rey for nominating me, also my family for always being there for me and supporting me.” 

The Classified School Employee of the Year program highlights the contributions of classified employees who support the education of California’s public school students in preschool through grade 12. 

Espinoza is one of six classified employees in Monterey County who will move forward for consideration in the California Department of Education’s Classified School Employee of the Year program.

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