INDIO — Allison Cyr, a third-grade teacher in the Desert Sands Unified School District, and Krysten Gonda, a high school teacher in the Coachella Valley Unified School District, were named two of four 2021 Riverside County Teachers of the Year.

Valley Educators Named Teachers of the Year

Allison Cyr

Cyr teaches at Lyndon B. Johnson Elementary School at DSUSD.

In making the announcement, Riverside County Superintendent of Schools, Dr. Judy D. White, said of Cyr,, “You give hope to people and engage students so they can see your light. You seek out those in the greatest need to inspire them.”

Cyr said, “I hope that I can continue to tell my students that they can make a difference and that one person can really change the world.”

Gonda teaches ninth and 12th-grade English/Language Arts and AVID at Desert Mirage High School in the Coachella Valley Unified School District.

“You are broadening your students’ horizons and engaging them in things that they’ve never seen,” White said of Gonda. “You push them and let them know that they have choices in the world and can explore the world outside of what they are seeing right now.”

Valley Educators Named Teachers of the Year

Krysten Gonda

After the announcement Gonda said, “To be able to represent my students in the East Valley, it is hard for me to find words. It is all so very humbling and difficult for me to hear because I’m used to celebrating and raising up my students and remaining in the background so they have the opportunities to shine.”

Others Teachers of the Year are:

  • Anne-Marie (Annie) Bravo, Grade 3, Railway School of Math, Science, and Technology, Perris Elementary School District
  • Keisa Brown, seventh- and eighth-grade science/AVID – University Heights Middle School
    Riverside Unified School District

White surprised these four teachers earlier this month with the news that they had been selected. Colleagues, district superintendents, and board members gathered together under the guise of another online video conference meeting.

Honorees will attempt to extend the streak of six consecutive years of Riverside County teachers being named a California Teacher of the Year

With a combined teaching experience of 58 years, all four teachers of the year will represent Riverside County in the 2021 California Teacher of the Year competition where at least one Riverside County teacher has been selected as a California Teacher of the Year in six of the last seven years:

  • 2020 – Brenda Chavez-Barreras, Good Hope Elementary School, Perris Elementary School District
  • 2019 – Dr. Angel Mejico, El Cerrito Middle School, Corona-Norco USD
  • 2018 – Dr. Brian McDaniel, Painted Hills Middle School, Palm Springs USD
  • 2017 – Shaun Bunn, Ethan A. Chase Middle School, Romoland School District
  • 2016 – Michelle Cherland, Carrillo Ranch Elementary School, Desert Sands USD
  • 2014 – Jessica Pack, James Workman Middle School, Palm Springs USD

The Riverside County Teachers of the Year are selected from nearly 20,000 educators in the county. The rigorous application process requires candidates to spend time reflecting on, and carefully defining, their teaching philosophy. The county teachers of the year are selected on the basis of nominations by teachers, principals, and school district administrators throughout the county.

Applications are then submitted to the Riverside County Office of Education, where an outside selection committee reviews the applications on each district candidate and selects semi-finalists. The selection committee then conducts interviews and on-site classroom visitations to select the final four candidates before the county superintendent announces the Riverside County Teachers of the Year.

Image Sources

  • Allison Cyr: RCOE
  • Krysten Gonda: RCOE
  • Teacher-of-the-year: Yankton Public Schools