Meet Kelly Kovacic -- California's 2010 Teacher of the Year and National TOY Finalist

Last week I was part of an amazing banquet where we honored the 2010 California Teachers of the Year in Sacramento. Big kahunas were all over the place. State senators. Educational policy makers from the Department of Ed. And of course, the inimitable State Superintendent of Public Education in California, Jack O'Connell. (Being a part of this crowd is like being a part of my only real Skulls and Bones Society -- aside from this ning, that is... LOL!)

The point is, okay, I admit -- I am not objective. I was a 2007 TOY (Teacher of the Year) for the state of California and when it comes to "pimpin' for my homies" I call it much like Chick Hearn used to call Los Angeles Laker games... with an eye towards the hometown fans.

So yep, I adore Kelly Kovacic. But the thing is, when it comes to Kelly, she completely deserves the admiration. From all of us.

First off, she's a teacher's teacher. At school late. At school early. Taking on all kinds of extra duties. (I'd say without fanfare but hey, just she stepped into a world of fanfare so it's no longer true -- but toiling in obscurity with her shirt sleeves rolled up is how she got where she is.)

So what is all the hoopla? Well, the press release says that Kelly provides "a rigorous college-preparatory education for motivated low-income students who all live below the poverty level".

It's a well turned phrase to read on paper but what's that really mean in the real world to me and you? Well, in real world terms, it means Kelly is on the front line of education changing lives. Breaking the patterns of generational poverty as bequeathed from one to the next due to a lack of education. She provides resources. She provides tools. She provides belief.

Kelly makes a difference -- an immense one. And she works her ass off doing it.

There are well over 300,000 educators in the state of California. Many, many, many of them do Herculean, fantastic work. Kelly was chosen as the 2010 representative for us all.

There are millions of teachers in our nation. Many, many, many of them do Herculean, fantastic work. Kelly is now one of four teachers that might represent us all as the National Teacher of the Year. (Wow, huh?)

Many, many educators don't even realize that their states have a Teacher of the Year program. Well, we do. We all do. And why?

As it turns out, one of the core missions of this program is to shine a positive light on the great work being done by teachers across this country. It's that simple. There are scores and scores and scores of people doing TREMENDOUS work out there -- and our parents, our students, our peers and our politicians need to know about it.

It's not that Kelly is the "best" teacher. That would be preposterous to even try to to determine. It's that Kelly is a GREAT teacher. And now she represents all the teachers in my state.

Do you know your state teacher of the year? Do you know someone that deserves consideration for state teacher of the year? (Hit your state's dept. of ed website -- you'll find more info there.)

After all, if we don't celebrate our own, who will?

Congrats Kelly! You do California proud!

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