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Congratulations to the 2023 California Teachers of the Year, announced Oct. 13 by State Superintendent of Public Instruction (SPI) Tony Thurmond.

All five are CTA members. They have been recognized for their outstanding work and their impact on students, schools and communities.

“These five educators receive the prestigious honor of 2023 California Teachers of the Year for their extraordinary talents and efforts to teach young people in California during historically challenging circumstances,” said Thurmond in his announcement. “Using their exceptional skills, creativity and experience, they continue to create positive learning environments and make meaningful contributions to the academic and social–emotional needs of their students.”

Teachers of the year are ambassadors for the profession and serve as representatives of the state for the calendar year. Presented by the California Department of Education and supported by the California Teachers of the Year Foundation, the California Teachers of the Year Program began in 1972 to honor exceptional educators and encourage and inspire new teachers to enter the profession.

The 2023 honorees:

Picture of J. Torres Rangel CATOYJason Torres-Rangel, United Teachers Los Angeles

Torres-Rangel is a high school AP English teacher at Theodore Roosevelt High School in the LA Unified School District. Named the LAUSD and LA County Teacher of the Year in 2022, he has been teaching for 18 years. “As the son of two retired Los Angeles Unified teachers, I am humbled, moved and touched, and am so excited to uplift the voices of my students and the work of my colleagues,” he said in a statement. “The work of teaching is the work of love and family; no teacher works alone, it is truly a family effort, and I am blessed to work with some of the best educators out there, serving the incredible students of Los Angeles.”

In fact, according to a local news story, a Roosevelt student and her parent nominated him writing that while never feeling accepted after attending five different schools, she found herself welcome, challenged and supported in Torres-Rangel’s class. Thurmond has nominated Torres-Rangel as California’s representative for the National Teacher of the Year competition, which will be announced in the spring.

Picture of C. Borek CATOYCatherine Borek, Compton Education Association

Borek is an AP English literature and drama teacher at Dominguez High School in the Compton Unified School District. She is the district’s 2022 Teacher of the Year, as well as one of LA’s County Office of Education’s Teachers of the Year. Borek came to Dominguez High in 1996 and in 1999 reestablished the long-defunct drama program co-producing a play that was the subject of an award-winning documentary. In her time at Dominguez, Borek and her students have completed the LA Marathon, collaborated with the LA Opera, starred in a Keurig commercial, published a play and started a rugby club. “What makes Compton special and what test scores don’t show is that we have some really creative students and some true problem-solvers, Borek said in a district video ( “That’s something to be celebrated.”

Picture of L. Camaraillo, CATOYLauren Camarillo, Mountain View-Los Altos Union High School District Teachers Association

Camarillo teaches Spanish and the Ambassador Class and serves as an advisor for the Ambassadors Club and the Spartan Dance Club at Mountain View High School in the Mountain View–Los Altos Union High School District. She is also the 2022 Santa Clara County Teacher of the Year. “I am honored by this award and opportunity to learn from other educators and share my experiences and insights,” Camarillo said in a Los Altos Town Crier story. “I am so grateful to my students whose curiosity, commitment and leadership push me to make as positive an impact as possible every single day.”

Picture of B. Case CATOYBen Case, Irvine Teachers Association

An instrumental music and music theory teacher at Northwood High School in the Irvine Unified School District, Case was named Orange County Teacher of the Year in May. He is also Irvine Unified’s 2022 High School Teacher of the Year and was a Grammy Music Educator Award semifinalist in 2015. He has helped grow Northwood High’s instrumental musical program, which is now one of the largest in the state with nearly 800 students in its band and orchestra program, including more than 120 musicians in one of Northwood’s four jazz ensembles. “These past few years have brought us challenges we could never have imagined, but they have also reinforced the reasons why I got into teaching to begin with — the inspirational relationships we foster with students and colleagues alike,” Case said in an Orange County Register news story.

Picture of Bridgette Blue CATOYBridgette Donald-Blue, United Teachers Los Angeles

Donald-Blue is a fourth-grade multiple subject teacher at Coliseum Street Elementary School in LAUSD. She deferred law school to fulfill a two-year commitment to Teach for America, and 30 years later, is still teaching in the classroom. “I am honored to be selected as a California Teacher of the Year,” said Donald-Blue, who holds a degree from Howard University. “It is a privilege to work with the students, teachers, staff and parents of Los Angeles Unified.”

This is the 50th year that California has selected a teacher of the year. County offices of education nominate California Teachers of the Year applicants through their county-level competitions. California Department of Education (CDE) selection committees review applications; evaluate teachers’ rapport with students, classroom environments, presentation skills, and teaching techniques; and interview the teachers. The State SPI then selects the five California Teachers of the Year and the National Teacher of the Year nominee.

For more information on the award program, go to

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