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By Julian Peeples

“These innovative and caring teachers have made profound differences in the lives of their students and communities.” —Tony Thurmond, state superintendent of public instruction


Five exceptional educators were named in October as the 2022 California Teachers of the Year for going above and beyond during one of the most challenging times in our nation’s history.

Announced by state Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond, these educators are ambassadors for the profession and serve as representatives of the state for the calendar year.

“In what may be the toughest time ever for California families, students and educators, these five innovative and caring teachers have made profound differences in the lives of their students and communities,” Thurmond says. “I’m proud that these educators are receiving this prestigious honor for their continued effort to connect with students even during unimaginable circumstances, to address their needs, and support them in any way they can.”

Meet the 2022 California Teachers of the Year.

Alondra Diaz

Alondra Diaz,

a third grade general education and dual immersion teacher at Ralph A. Gates Elementary School in Saddleback Valley Unified School District. Diaz is a member of Saddleback Valley Educators Association. Diaz was also selected by Thurmond to be California’s representative for the National Teacher of the Year competition. The 2022 National Teacher of the Year will be announced in the spring.

Nichi Avina

Nichi Avina,

a middle school science teacher at Cielo Vista Charter School in Palm Springs Unified School District. Avina is a member of Palm Springs Teachers Association.




Sovantevy Long-LatteriSovantevy Long-Latteri,

a special education teacher at La Sierra High School in Fullerton Joint Union High School District. Long-Latteri is a member of Fullerton Secondary Teachers Organization.




Tiffany Jokerst

Tiffany Jokerst,

a high school mathematics and engineering teacher at West Hills High School in Grossmont Union High School District. Jokerst is a member of Grossmont Education Association.



Virginia Vasquez

Virginia Vasquez,

an AP Language and Composition teacher at San Gabriel High School in Alhambra Unified School District. Vasquez is a member of Alhambra Teachers Association.



Presented by California Casualty and supported by the California Teachers of the Year Foundation, the California Teachers of the Year Program began in 1972 to honor outstanding teachers and encourage and inspire new teachers to enter the profession.

CTA President E. Toby Boyd thanks the winners for their inspiring dedication.

“During a pandemic that has challenged teachers everywhere, these educators have gone above and beyond and made an extraordinary difference in the lives of their students,” he says. “We congratulate them for receiving this prestigious honor and for being recognized for their excellent teaching, innovation, creativity, and ability to connect with students. You do our profession proud.”

For more information about the California Teachers of the Year program, go to

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