Desiree Baltazar receives her award as MCOE’s 2022 Middle School Teacher of the Year. (Contributed Photo)

KING CITY — Monterey County Office of Education (MCOE) announced the top educators in Monterey County in June, and among those honored was Desiree Baltazar, who was named the 2022 Middle School Teacher of the Year.

Baltazar teaches sixth grade language arts, social sciences and ELD at Chalone Peaks Middle School in King City.

Baltazar said the notification was a “complete surprise” to her, as the principal had let her know district officials would be touring the school. What she wasn’t told was that county officials from MCOE would also be there, and their purpose was to notify her of her selection.

Baltazar was in a short transfer break with her small cohort group of students when the administrators turned the corner.

“I’m so not the ‘hey look at me’ person, so any kind of recognition, I get completely embarrassed,” she said of her reaction. “Having to wear a mask on campus saved me that day from people seeing how red my face was.”

Baltazar said her students were excited for her. She was chosen based on her educational background, including her years of teaching and education philosophy.

Her goal is to help gear students toward achievement.

“I’ve coached for over 20 years and it meshes into my thought process of teaching,” Baltazar said. “Every child needs to understand not only that they’re important, but why we’re going over and teaching the things we’re teaching.”

Baltazar explained that she integrates the reason why lessons are learned into her teaching, such as letting the students know why the particular lesson on grammar is helpful, or how it ties into something that was necessary to learn from a few weeks prior.

Seeing the students years after they leave her classroom is what inspires Baltazar to teach, when they’re able to achieve the things she saw in them while they were middle school students.

“I just had to help you find that in yourself and you found it,” she said about her reaction to seeing students years down the road and how that drives her teaching.

All the county educators of the year will compete at the state competition later this year with the California Department of Education.

Other educators honored were Ana Maria Barrera from Everett Alvarez High School in Salinas, Amy Bowen from Frank Ledesma Elementary School in Soledad and Amanda Munoz from Highland Elementary School in Seaside.

In addition, MCOE honored the classified employees of the year, including: Aidee Aldaco, District Intervention Program Coordinator from Soledad Unified School District; Armando Lara, Gardener from Greenfield Union School District; Bereniz Lopez, Clerk I from Greenfield Union School District; and Luvilily Ramos, Head Cook from Soledad Unified School District.

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Sean Roney is a freelance reporter for King City Rustler and Salinas Valley Tribune, a unified publication of Greenfield News, Soledad Bee and Gonzales Tribune. He covers general news for the Salinas Valley communities in South Monterey County.


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