Miguelito Elementary School fifth-grade teacher Alisyn Blanton has been named 2022 Santa Barbara County Teacher of the Year for her commitment to excellence, dedication to students and adaptability in the midst of a pandemic.
Blanton now is eligible for both state and national Teacher of the Year recognition programs upon receiving the award announced Thursday by the Santa Barbara County Board of Education.
Lompoc Unified School District Superintendent Trevor McDonald said Blanton's "dedication and grit" is a rarity and that her students are better for it.
"Alisyn is able to bring out the best in others," McDonald said. "Her zeal for teaching and learning is infectious. Alisyn is committed to student improvement, making school what we all dream of.”
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Blanton has been with the Lompoc Unified School District since 2004 after receiving a $20,000 fellowship in 2001 to support her studies at UC Santa Cruz with a commitment to teach at an underperforming school for four years. Over the years, she has taught at Los Berros Elementary, Fillmore Elementary and Miguelito Elementary.
Blanton graduated from UC Santa Barbara with a bachelor's in psychology and a master's in education from UC Santa Cruz.
Choosing the county's Teacher of the Year is no easy process, according to county officials, as each nominee is put through an extensive application process that includes the submission of letters of recommendation. Once the committee reviews the applications and make its selection, finalists are interviewed via Zoom, where they are invited to share a unique instructional practice and discuss their personal educational philosophy.
Blanton said she doesn't envy the committee that was tasked with selecting one teacher to represent the teaching profession in the midst of a pandemic.
"We are each and all truly Teachers of the Year," she said. "I have never been prouder to be a teacher in Santa Barbara County.”
Teachers over the last academic year "have worked harder than we ever have in our entire careers," Blanton explained.
“During the pandemic, we have been working to provide a high quality, rigorous and accountable education that simply looks and feels different at home," she said. "We reinvented our scripts and even threw them away for new ones. We are working to engage students in ways we never imagined. This is because teaching is a profession of pride, not payout.”
Miguelito Elementary School Principal Becky Sausker expressed her gratitude for Blanton's unwavering commitment to her students.
“Alisyn creates an engaging classroom culture that not only accepts and celebrates differences but does so while holding high expectations for all of her students and honoring the ideal that all kids can learn,” Sausker said. “Her ingenuity and willingness to learn helped her adapt that same classroom culture to the remote universe.”
Santa Barbara County Superintendent of Schools Dr. Susan Salcido described Blanton as a gifted educator who shares her love of learning in the classroom and throughout the community.
“She is committed to educational excellence and demonstrates her passion, skill, and dedication with energy and fervor,” Salcido said. “Teachers like Alisyn inspire students to learn, grow, achieve and succeed.”