The Teacher of the Season recognition lauds educators who demonstrate exemplary commitment to their students, their respective schools, and the Schools Partnership Program. In a typical school year, nominations are submitted after each season of sport (soccer, basketball, and track & field). Because this year is unlike any other, the Fall 2020 Teacher of the Season nomination process was designated to honor educators working in distance, hybrid and in-person learning models. These nominees have continued to implement inventive and engaging Unified Champion Schools programming and inclusive activities regardless of the challenging circumstances presented in the current school year.
Education Specialist for Inclusion
Mission Valley SELPA
Rayna Blakley has been an advocate for Special Olympics Northern California for many years. She is the primary point person for John Gomes Elementary and displays a passionate desire for inclusion on campus. During this time of uncertainty in which many schools have adapted to distanced or hybrid environments, Mrs. Blakley is been a driving force for Mission Valley SELPA programming to maintain it’s footprint by spreading the word of Special Olympic events through Gomes’ school announcement system and newsletters. Her efforts helped to gain the most representation of attendees in the Special Olympics Northern California Fall Games @ Home Young Athlete Program portion. Way to go Rayna!
Sharon Sobel Idul
Pittsburg Unified School District
Sharon Sobel Idul is a dance teacher at PHS and an advocate for inclusion. She teaches a Unified dance class and is a Unified bowling coach. She was actively involved in the Fall into Fitness event and hosted two live Zumba classes for students and their families. Sharon is the Pitt Unify Club advisor and works with student officers to brainstorm ideas for meetings. Students in the club wanted to make a Choose to Include video—Sharon put together the video and shared it on social media giving the club a bigger presence and helping to spread the message of inclusion. Sharon’s school spirit combined with the time and effort she puts in with all students has made a big impact in the PHS Unified program.
Special Education Services
San Francisco Unified School District
Julia Martin is the Ombudsperson for SFUSD Special Education and has been the Inclusive Schools Week task force chairperson for two years. She is responsible for spearheading an events filled week for over 3,000 students, families and community members alongside her yearlong inclusive practice work. Some of the events she instituted for this year’s Inclusive Schools Week: SF 49ers fitness workout, virtual assemblies with Special Olympics athlete speakers, an online art showcase and a young adults discussion panel. She has guided and inspired everyone she meets and these events would not have been possible without Julia’s involvement.
Functional Skills Teacher
Central Unified School District
Reiko Rushing is a middle school functional skills teacher at Rio Vista Middle School. Reiko goes above and beyond for her students. She is always ready and willing to take on a challenge to help her students and program succeed. When presented with this year’s Fall Games @ Home event, she jumped in with two feet and successfully encouraged Unified Athletes and Peers from her school to participate. Under Reiko’s instruction, students continued to build upon the foundational soccer skills while on campus and at home by participating in a Virtual Soccer competition. She works tirelessly to make distance learning engaging and created a website to assist students and parents easy access to learning. Reiko provides her Best Buddies class with innovative lessons to facilitate communication between students in General Education and students in Special Education. Rio Vista Middle School is host to multiple Special Olympics and Unified Sports events each year and Reiko’s enthusiasm contribute to the continued success of the program. Keep up the awesome work Reiko!
Campbell Union School District
Alejandro Prado is an APE teacher for Campbell Union School District working at various schools. He demonstrates a passion for working with students who have significant needs ranging from preschool age students to middle school students. Alejandro has translated this passion to energetic and engaging virtual lessons and comes to schools each day with a high level of energy and enthusiasm.
Thank you to the Coordinators, Administrators and SONC Area Managers for nominating these deserving educators! Learn more about the Unified Champion Schools Program at SONC.org/schools.