With the fall soccer season in the books and basketball just around the corner, it’s time to recognize our amazing Teachers of the Season in Northern California! Congratulations to Kristi Oleson (Contra Costa County), Jennifer Mersino (Fresno County), Stephanie Murphy (San Mateo County), Scott Booth (San Francisco Unified) and Carol Anderson (Tri-Valley)!
Teacher of the Season accolade lauds an educator who demonstrates exemplary commitment to their students, their respective schools and the Special Olympics Schools Partnership Program. Every sport season – soccer in the fall, basketball in the winter and track & field in the spring – the honor is bestowed upon a teacher from each area where the Schools Partnership Program exists. We could not have Special Olympics in the schools without these inspiring teachers and we thank all of them! Please enjoy the nominations of our winning Teachers of the Fall Season!
Contra Costa County – Kristi Oleson – Krey Elementary School
Kristi has worked for Contra Costa County of Education (CCCOE) since 2000 and has been attending the Special Olympics Northern California Schools Partnership Program events since 2009. She does an outstanding job with her students during soccer season, especially since she plays soccer on multiple teams throughout the year. An awesome fact is that her daughter – who is in Andi Madsen’s CCCOE class at Liberty Transition – also participates in the Schools Partnership Program and attends the same events her mom does each year! Kristi thanks her daughter and the many others they have encountered on their journey for helping her develop into the person she is today.
“I will continue striving toward guiding not only my students, but their parents and caregivers along the way,” Kristi said. Way to go, Kristi!
Fresno County – Jennifer Mersino – Clovis West High School
Jennifer works really hard to practice with and train all of her Special Olympics student-athletes. Clovis West High School had two teams this year, and Jennifer was involved with both. Jennifer has participated in the Fresno schools soccer league for the past three years, and the Special Olympics Schools Soccer tournament for many years. She is always working hard with her athletes, and making sure that they are well coached and constantly having fun. Jennifer is well respected amongst the other teacher/coaches and her teams are always very excited and eager to participate in Special Olympics.
San Mateo County – Stephanie Murphy – Lipman Middle School
For the past five years, Stephanie – along with her staff, students, parent-teacher organization and administration – has hosted the Special Olympics’ Soccer Skills Day. It is an amazing day. Each year over 100 athletes and 50 buddies participate in an event filled with the Special Olympics spirit. When asked about the day, student-athletes reacted positively by saying – it was so much fun, they were so nice to me, when can we do it again?
The success of the day begins with the training of the 30-40 general education student buddies. Stephanie teaches, leads, models, encourages and coaches them in soccer. Then the general education volunteers, in turn, model this with the special education student-athletes on the day of the event. They were examples to the athletes just learning how to play the sport. They were patient and kind and played right alongside our youngest, newest players. The students, along with the groundskeepers, help manage the fields, goals and water to ensure the athletes’ safety.
Stephanie also coordinates with the adapted physical education specialist for her district to include modified equipment and skill cards for all levels. A special thanks goes to Lipman Middle School and Stephanie for using their school bus to take another team home after the event.
Yet again, Stephanie was over and above what was needed! Thank you Stephanie, your spirit is infectious!
San Francisco – Scott Booth – Presidio Middle School
Scott is a special education teacher at Presidio Middle School. He has been in the San Francisco Unified School District for eight years. He just received his masters in special education and San Francisco State University and is continuing his studies in school psychology. This is Scott’s third year participating in the Special Olympics Northern California Schools Partnership Program. Presidio Middle School had its largest turnout at a Special Olympics event at last year’s track & field event with 34 students participating. This year, Scott hopes to have over 50 participants!
“Being a part of Special Olympics is one of the best things I’ve been involved with as a teacher,” Scott said about being involved in the Special Olympics Northern California Schools Partnership Program. “For me, the events are a highlight of the school year. I am asked by students on a weekly, and sometimes daily basis, when the next Special Olympics event will be. For my students, it is a chance for them to shine and have a great time competing with their friends. Students are also able to reconnect with old friends and teachers from other schools. The Special Olympics Northern California Schools Partnership Program creates a wonderful opportunity to celebrate diversity and I am incredibly grateful to be a part of this amazing organization.”
Tri-Valley – Carol Anderson – Murray Elementary
Carol has gone above and beyond in making sure all her student-athletes are prepared for the competition day and ready to play. She exemplifies the type of teacher every student deserves and is an amazing part of Special Olympics Northern California community. Thank you to Carol for all your effort and hard work as a teacher and as part of our community!