The Ed Fund 2017 Teaching Excellence Award Winners


The Ed Fund celebrated and honored the excellence of five West Contra Costa Unified School District teachers and 20 scholarship winners at its 29th Annual Soaring to Excellence Celebration on May 12th. In addition, the Ed Fund showcased the work of its collaborative partners by recognizing a 2017 Collaborative Partner of the Year.  Student performances by the DeAnza Jazz Band and El Cerrito High School Dance students were also featured.  The Ed Fund was honored to have WCCUSD Superintendent Matt Duffy as our keynote speaker and guest speaker President of United Teachers of Richmond (UTR) Demetrio Gonzalez.

2017 Teaching Excellence Award Winners 

The five 2017 Teaching Excellence Awards winners who were honored at the Soaring to Excellence Celebration share a profound passion for instilling a love of learning in their students so that each student can attain their goals and realize their dreams. By carefully and thoughtfully weaving creativity, adherence to high standards, profound knowledge of the subjects being taught, and appreciation of individual differences, needs and strengths, these award winning teachers raise the quality of education to new heights.

Tiffany Okubo Chieudjui

3rd Grade Teacher, Grant Elementary School

Ms. Chieudjui has very strong roots with the West Contra Costa Unified School District as she grew up in West Contra Costa County and her mother was a long-time teacher in the District. Ms. Chieudjui has a very special way of engaging students even before a lesson has started. She’s always looking to find ways to enhance student learning by seeking opportunities that allow students to tie the lessons into real life experiences that have an everlasting impact. Using innovation and technology she taps into every students’ hidden talents. She fosters creativity by allowing self-expression and providing student choice. She taps into students’ interests and chooses themes that are enjoyable to the students and creates cross curricular activities-slightly above their skill level and then raises the challenge as performances improves.

Jasmine Johnson

5th Grade Teacher, Richmond College Prep Elementary

As an educator, Ms. Johnson’s is to create an academically rigorous and rich experience where all students are growing and creating. It’s also equally important that students learn about themselves, their histories, and begin to see themselves as creators in this world. If you were to walk into her classroom, she would want you to see students who are passionately engaged, students who are reading and writing, and speaking and listening to each other. She values participation and believes that true learning only takes place once students are talking, moving, and truly engaging with materials. Of course, this level of work requires her students to be at school every day, and it demands that they show integrity and urgency.

Jessy Kronenberg

Dance Teacher, El Cerrito High School

Ms. Kronenberg is a former student who graduated from El Cerrito High Dance in 1998. Since she took over the program in 2012, she has moved the program forward into a new generation while maintaining the tradition of high quality dance education at ECHS. Through high level instruction and vast amounts of time and dedication, students from all levels of ability are developing their talent and love of dance. Beyond the classroom, Jessy has launched the Gaucho Dance Company and challenged ECHS Dance to become a Chapter of the National Honor Society for Dance Arts.  Ms. Kronenberg earned a BA degree in Environmental Studies and Dance from Pitzer College where she focused on Modern Dance and Composition in 2002. Later, Ms. Kronenberg moved to North Carolina and joined the Asheville Contemporary Dance Theater. She earned a Master’s degree in Teaching at Western Carolina University.

Sarah La Due

7th Grade English Teacher, Fred T. Korematsu Middle School

Ms. La Due has been an English middle school teacher for three years now at Fred T. Korematsu Middle School. Before becoming a teacher, she worked in the political arena in public affairs and research analysis. She has a Bachelor’s in Political Science from UC Santa Barbara. Ms. La Due is a gifted educator who engages her students by inspiring them to learn. She does this by using a creative mix of techniques – group projects, individual work and classroom discussions. One of the most remarkable things about Ms. La Due is the lasting impact she has on her students. They stay in touch with her long after she stops being their classroom teacher and she remains an important part of their lives. Ms. La Due emphasizes to her students that the path to success is not through perfection, but through effort and improving over time. She wants students to focus on learning rather than grades.

Paula Raj

Spanish Teacher, DeAnza High School

Ms. Raj has been teaching longer than most of the teachers at De Anza have been alive and her classroom is one of the most joyful places on campus. She claims that she stopped counting the years of teaching after she turned sixty! Ms. Raj brings music, artifacts, and carefully planned lessons to each class period. She warmly demands that ALL students participate and she ensures that the classroom feels like a safe space to do so. Ms. Raj never stops moving in the classroom, always interacting with each student and encouraging them to do their best. To teachers and students alike she pushes that we have to turn our “passion into action”.  Over her long career, she has served as a Spanish Teacher, World Language Department Chair, Instructor Led Training Lead Teacher, Teacher-Coach, Western Association of School and Colleges Chair, Advanced Placement Peer Leadership Consultants Lead and member of Student Advocacy and Master Schedule Committees.

Sharing the honors with the Teaching Excellence Awards winners will be:

RYSE Youth Center

The RYSE Youth Center’s mission is to creates safe spaces grounded in social justice that build youth power for young people to love, learn, educate, heal and transform lives and communities. RYSE offers many different programs for our youth including Health and Wellness programs, Education and Career, Media Art and Culture, Youth Organizing and Leadership, Youth Justice, and many more.  RYSE truly cares about students and youth in this community and does outreach at various district schools to support what educators and staffs are doing.

We are so grateful to everyone who supported the event but especially our business partners and supporters, including  Magna Cum Laude partners Alten Construction, Inc.,  Chevron, and West Contra Costa Unified School District and Cum Laude partners Kaiser Permanente, Lozano Smith Attorneys at Law, Mechanics Bank, and Travis Credit Union.

Since its founding in 1983, the Ed Fund has provided more than $3.4 million in funding to enrich education for West Contra Costa Unified School District students. By the end of this fiscal year, that funding will have provided more than 794 grants to teachers and schools, 144 Teaching Excellence Awards, more than 14 years of after school programs at district middle schools, hundreds of music and arts programs at all grade levels, dozens of summer scholarships to enable students to attend summer camps and workshops, and $1.7 million in college scholarships.

This year alone, with the support of the African American Male Scholarship, Bernice Bell Memorial Scholarship, Irene S. Scully Family Foundation, Norma and Arthur Schroeder Family Foundation, and Whittier Education Foundation, Ed Fund will make it possible for 20 West Contra Costa Unified high school seniors to realize their college dreams by awarding almost $60,000 in college scholarships.


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