California Teacher Of The Year Essays Online

Oakland Unified's I'Asha Warfield

Recognized as California Teacher of the Year

Seventh grade English teacher at Frick Middle School shines as one of five California instructors named "Teachers of the Year" and state's only nominee the National Teacher of the Year competition

Oakland – November 8, 2012 – Oakland Unified's I'Asha Warfield added more hardware to her rapidly growing collection this afternoon when she was named California Teacher of the Year. The seventh grade English teacher at East Oakland's Frick Middle School was one of five teachers so recognized by the California Department of Education (CDE) and the only one chosen to represent the state in the National Teacher of the Year competition.

This latest triumph follows earlier honors from the Oakland Unified School District (OUSD) and the Alameda County Office of Education (ACOE), both of which named Ms. Warfield as their Teacher of the Year.

Speaking for the State, California's Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson, praised today's winners, saying: "These five wonderful teachers have shown the kind of skill, passion, and dedication that exemplify the very best of the most important, most demanding, and most rewarding profession there is: teaching. I congratulate and thank them for all the work they are doing to brighten the future of their students and our state."

Torlakson's words were echoed by Ms. Warfield's Frick colleagues who spoke in awe of the way she transforms a classroom into a community grounded in mutual respect and high expectations. Results have followed as more than 70 percent of Ms. Warfield's students have achieved proficiency in writing at a high-poverty school that has created a culture where dignity and regard for every student is the norm.

Frick Middle School Principal Jerome Gourdine noted that, "Ms. Warfield values student voice and instills the confidence in her students to genuinely express their ideas, thoughts and actions in a way that will improve society."

Frick students echoed that sentiment. One of Ms. Warfield's English Language Development (ELD) students wrote to OUSD's Teacher of the Year Nomination Committee, "Writing is like my friend. Paper loves it when I write on it. Writing is to express yourself even when you don't have anyone to listen."

I'Asha Warfield and Frick Middle School Principal Jerome Gourdine celebrate her selection as OUSD Teacher of the Year. Warfield went on to win statewide honors and is an entrant in the national competition.

Ms. Warfield has taught English and reading intervention and world history at Frick since 2000 and works as a coach in the Beginning Teacher Support and Assessment program to help guide new teachers through the self-assessment process to clear their California credential. Warfield serves as a representative in Frick's Instructional Leadership Team to help determine the instructional needs of the school through data analysis and teacher feedback.

She also works a consultant to the Bay Area Writing Project that presents teacher trainings on secondary literacy with an emphasis on writing. Her prior experience includes working as a consultant with the California Reading and Literature Project; a corps member advisor at Teacher for America Summer Institute; a collaborative teacher at the University of California, Berkeley, and Mills College; and an assistant language teacher with the Japanese Exchange Teaching Programme in Miyagi, Japan.

Kimi Kean, Executive Officer for East Oakland schools, described Ms. Warfield as "a tremendous asset to Frick Middle School and a shining example of how relationships and rigor can create extraordinary outcomes for students.

Similarly, Torlakson praised Ms. Warfield's practice of having students write down daily learning targets and using these goals to inform her teaching and evaluate whether students are mastering the material.

In explaining her commitment to teaching and constant self-improvement, Ms. Warfield said, "It is my aim that students are able to use their life experiences and connect them to the world through analysis and evaluation. Simultaneously, I hope that with the skills they develop they are able to look beyond their own experience to critically and creatively engage in this world.

To see Ms. Warfield expand on her teaching philosophy, view this video of her acceptance speech after being named Oakland Unified School District Teacher of the Year:


To see the acceptance speech of OUSD's other Teacher of the Year, the equally excellent Stephen Davis, who teaches Kindergarten at Global Family Elementary School, click this link:


For more information, please contact Troy Flint at or (510) 473-5832.

Following in the footsteps of her grandfather, dad, mom and several other family members, Erin Oxhorn-Gilpin always wanted to be a teacher.

“I come from a family of teachers, so I guess you can say it’s in my genes,” she said.

Oxhorn-Gilpin ’05 (Liberal Studies/Multiple Subject Teaching Credential) started working with children when she was 14.Today, she’s a first- and second-grade teacher (she teaches a “split class,” where two age groups are combined) at Northlake Hills Elementary School in Castaic, north of Los Angeles. This October, state officials named her as one of California’s 2018 Teachers of the Year.

“There are so many great teachers out here who don’t get that recognition. The fact that it happened to me is still kind of surreal,” Oxhorn-Gilpin said.

Oxhorn-Gilpin was born and raised in Granada Hills. In 2002,she transferred to California State University, Northridge from Moorpark College and joined the Integrated Teacher Education Program (ITEP), which allowed her to graduate with a bachelor’s degree and teaching credential.

ITEP is designed for students who want to pursue a career in elementary education or special education. The program offers subject matter courses leading to a degree in liberal studies, combined with field experience in teaching. Students learn from in-classroom observations and get to apply their teaching skills in a classroom environment.

“She’s joining an elite group of five former teachers of the year from our college,” said Shari Tarver-Behring, interim dean of CSUN’s Michael D. Eisner College of Education.

To receive the state honor, Oxhorn-Gilpin had to master several stages of a thorough and difficult application process. She was nominated School Teacher of the Year for the 2016-17 school year by her colleague Allison West. After that, she was selected District Teacher of the Year and then Los AngelesCounty Teacher of the Year. For the next step, the statewide accolade, Oxhorn-Gilpin had to write several essays, and participate in online and in-person interviews.

“A state committee also came to observe me teaching,” said Oxhorn-Gilpin, recalling one of the most stressful moments during the nomination process. “They called to say that they were moving my late afternoon visit to earlier in the day and that they would be arriving in 30 minutes. But it went great.”

“Erin was thrilled about every step she reached, but also pursued the next level with determination,” said Erin Augusta, principal of Northlake Hills Elementary School.

Out of the five teachers nominated for the state honor, Oxhorn-Gilpin is the only elementary school teacher. She loves working with younger students, and she likes to see their achievements and development into stronger readers and writers, Oxhorn-Gilpin said.

“It’s a gift that I get to work with children, and watch them grow as a person and academically as a student,” she said.

The teacher has been with most of her current students since kindergarten. “I don’t know how to part with some of them, but at some point I will have to say goodbye,” she said. “We spend so much time together. It’s always kind of sad when the school year ends.”

The pride is mutual in her classroom. “One of my girls wrote me a note with flowers on it, saying that I’m the teacher of her dreams,” Oxhorn-Gilpin said. She tells her students that Teacher of the Year is not just her title, but theirs as well. “I tell them they are my Students of the Year, and that I wouldn’t have the title without them,” Oxhorn-Gilpin said. “Everybody is part of the puzzle. A teacher is only as strong as fellow colleagues, administrators, students and the community.”

Oxhorn-Gilpin is active beyond teaching, as well. She’s part of her school’s leadership team, representing the second grade. She also works on the district’s curriculum and serves on the school site council — which consists of the principal, a group of teachers and parents, and meets bi-monthly to discuss school issues. She also mentors new teachers who just started their careers in the classroom.

“Erin is a teacher who never stops learning what’s best for her and her students,” Augusta said. “She also shares her experience with other teachers, mentoring them and helping them grow.”

Oxhorn-Gilpin credited CSUN for the valuable skills she learned about how to be a better teacher.

“The College of Education was incredibly supportive and guided me very well,” Oxhorn-Gilpin said. “When you start teaching, it’s kind of scary, because you’ve never done it before. CSUN taught me how to be a transparent and reflective educator.”

David Kretschmer, interim chair of the Department of Elementary Education, stressed the importance of a good education for teachers. “People think that anyone can teach,” he said. “But it’s not at all easy to get kids engaged, motivated and learning together.”

Oxhorn-Gilpin said she is committed to classroom teaching for the long term. “I love working with kids, so I don’t want to be out of the classroom,” she said. As she teaches her students reading, writing, math, science and social studies, the teacher said she could imagine taking on a specialist position, such as working with struggling students or serving as a reading specialist.

“I don’t ever take for granted that I get to do this job,” Oxhorn-Gilpin said. “When I think of the parents — [their children] are their most prized possession, and I’m helping them grow.”

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