HCOE Honors Outstanding Educators on California’s Day of the Teacher

Press release from the Humboldt County Office of Education:

people posed for photo under black and gold balloon arch against a wood-panel wall

Photo from L-R: Michael Davies-Hughes, Superintendent of Humboldt County Schools; Maggie Tedder, Grant Elementary; Joe Kencke, Ridgewood Elementary; Justine Smith, McKinleyville High; Margie Cunningham, Trinidad School; Cassandra Moulton-Rizzo, Arcata and McKinleyville High; Shawn Kingstrom, Arcata Elementary; Owen Moore, Arcata High; and Shane Sines, Morris Elementary. [Photographer: Joanna Galicha]

The Humboldt County Office of Education (HCOE) hosted its annual celebration honoring California’s Day of the Teacher by recognizing outstanding educators with Excellence in Teaching Awards. This year’s ceremony, held at the Sequoia Conference Center in Eureka, recognized 7 teachers for their exceptional work in the classroom. With a combined 112 years of teaching experience, these educators were joined by over 200 colleagues, friends, and family members to celebrate their achievements. 

The Excellence in Teaching Awards program has been a staple of HCOE since 1986. The awards recognize teachers from Transitional Kindergarten through 12th grade who have been identified as exemplary by their coworkers, parents, or students and have a minimum of five years teaching experience. 

This year’s honorees were Margie Cunningham of Trinidad Elementary School, Joe Kencke  of Ridgewood School, Owen Ashbrook Moore of Arcata High, Cassandra Moulton-Rizzo of Arcata and McKinleyville High Schools, Shayne Sines of Morris School, Justine Smith of McKinleyville High, and Margaret Tedder of Grant Elementary.  

“We are fortunate to honor these outstanding educators who demonstrate an exceptional commitment to elevating the teaching profession through their focus on strengthening communities to improve student learning. On this day of the teacher, we are grateful to all the teachers in our schools who work diligently on behalf of students every day,” said Humboldt County Superintendent of Schools, Michael Davies-Hughes.

In addition to the Excellence in Teaching Awards, the event also recognized the Jean Olson Career Achievement Award recipients. Shawn Kingstrom and Dr. Garry T. Eagles were honored for their lifelong contributions to public education, children, and the community.  The Jean Olson Career Achievement Award is named in memory of Jean Olson, a long-time County Board of Education member and President who passed away in 1998. Jean’s husband, Larry Olson, expressed his gratitude to these fine educators. 

Kelly Miller, the 2023-2024 Humboldt County Teacher of the Year from Arcata High School, addressed the audience, inspiring all in attendance. She noted that the 2025 Humboldt County Teacher of the Year will be selected from among the Excellence in Teaching Award recipients. 

The event was made even more special with the Fortuna High School Culinary Arts program creating appetizers and Eureka High School’s musicians welcoming attendees with their musical ensemble, under the guidance of Stacy Chatfield and Charles Young, respectively. New this year, Kelly Miller’s Arcata High Ag Floral Classes created the bouquets for the tables and Ian Hall’s CTE Students created the engraved wooden cutting board awards. 

All the teachers nominated for the Excellence in Teaching Awards expressed their gratitude for the honor and acknowledged the importance of having the support of their families and colleagues. They also recognized that there are many excellent educators throughout Humboldt County and felt proud to be recognized among them. Visit hcoe.org/awards for more information about our teacher recognition programs. 

CONTACT: Stacy Young, Director of Community Outreach and Engagement [email protected] 707-445-7024


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