District and its Educators Honor 2024 Teachers of the Year

May 8, 2024

The San Lorenzo Unified School District’s Teacher of the Year for 2024 is Scott Reardon, an elementary program specialist in special education, and San Lorenzo High School English teacher Rachel Ahrens is this year’s secondary-level honoree.

They were recognized on May 7 at the SLZUSD Board of Education meeting along with 14 other Teacher of the Year nominees from schools throughout the district. The San Lorenzo Education Association, a professional association for certificated employees, nominated the teachers, and district administrators worked with them to select the overall winners.

In an email informing the nominees of the selection, Dr. Renee Lama, assistant superintendent for educational services, wrote, “Your unwavering dedication, passion and commitment to excellence in education have positively impacted your students’ lives and inspired your colleagues.”

Reardon, who joined the district in 2007 as a long-term substitute in special education, became a resource specialist at Corvallis Elementary School and since 2020 has been a program specialist for elementary and preschool education. He is a graduate of Arroyo High School and also attended Bay Elementary and Bohannon middle schools.

His peers at the District Office and in the District Independent Contract Education (DICE) program, for whom he is a site representative in the San Lorenzo Education Association, praised Reardon as someone with the talent and adaptability to fulfill a variety of responsibilities and needs.

The nomination statement said, "Scott sends out organized information in a timely and efficient manner. He acts as a resource for all teachers to provide appropriate strategies and next steps, whether for student success, modeling instruction practices/strategies, creating compliant IEPs (individual education plans), or just navigating the world of special education.”

Reardon described his work as helping colleagues, family members and students understand what special education is, and isn’t.

“Our job is to work with you, to work with and through your disability so you can succeed,” he said. “It’s not to take the magic pill so it disappears. … It is to make it so you have a successful, independent life as much as possible, no matter what your disability is – that you can live the most independent and, you know, prosperous life that you can. And that looks different for a lot of our students.”

Reardon, who also is SLZUSD’s Elementary Teacher of the Year, will represent the district in the 35th annual Alameda County Teacher of the Year program on Oct. 3, with a chance to be chosen to advance to state-level and even national teacher recognition programs.

Ahrens Receives Secondary-Level Honors

The district’s 2024 Secondary Teacher of the Year, Rachel Aherns, has taught English language arts and English language development at San Lorenzo High School since 2006. She also serves as coordinator for the school’s participation in a national accreditation program, as senior class advisor and, starting this year, as advisor for the school’s Polynesian student club.

Said nominators, “During her many years at our site, Rachel has successfully taught diverse students of virtually all grade levels and English abilities. Her classroom is a consistent place for success. But beyond her classroom, we want to honor Rachel for so often stepping up to serve our school and community in areas where her service is needed.”

Ahrens reflected on that aspect of teaching as a form of service, she said, “I look at public education as activism. It’s bringing that social justice into the classroom. I think that it’s so important that these students have somebody that they can trust and that they can be inspired by.”

Teacher of the Year Nominees

Also nominated by their peers for 2024 Teacher of the Year are:

  • Jeff Jorgensen, physics and AP physics, Arroyo High School.
  • Jessica Wong, second grade, Bay Elementary School.
  • Suzanne Evans, social studies, Bohannon Middle School.
  • Heather Wilkinson, resource specialist, Colonial Acres Elementary School.
  • Deborah Alexander, second grade, Corvallis Elementary School.
  • Dr. Ronald Pascua, special day instructor, Dayton Elementary School.
  • Colin Spence, physical education, Del Rey Elementary School.
  • Lauren Croll, history and ethnic studies, East Bay Arts High School.
  • Steve Uyeno, special education, Edendale Middle School.
  • Michelle Bonnin, second grade, Grant Elementary School.
  • Jennifer Holmes, resource specialist, Hesperian Elementary School.
  • Olivia Franco, first grade, Hillside Elementary School.
  • Rosemarie Sandoval, first grade, Lorenzo Manor Elementary School.
  • Patricia Paredes, resource specialist, Washington Manor Middle School.