Two GUSD Teachers Honored at Cox Communications Salute to Teachers

GUSD Teachers Amanda Swiegart and Tyler Wilkes were among Santa Barbara County’s Distinguished Teachers honored Saturday night at the First Annual Cox Communications Salute to Teachers.

Among the GUSD attendees at the Salute to Teachers (L to R): Joanna Lauer (Kellogg), Donna Madrigal (Asst. Supt.), Abby Vazquez (Ellwood Principal), Ryan Sparre (Hollister Principal), Amanda Swiegart (Distinguished Mentor Teacher-Ellwood), Mojdeh Senzamici (Hollister), Tyler Wilkes (Distinguished New Teacher-Hollister), Carly Schmiess (Hollister), Sarah Kaplowitz (Hollister), Pam Kinsley (GUSD Board of Trustees), Veronica Torres (Hollister), Bill Banning (GUSD Superintendent [Photo by Becky Banning]

The event, which was held at the Bacara Resort and Spa, honors teachers who are new to the profession and veteran teachers who serve as their mentors. The pairing of new teachers and mentors is part of Santa Barbara County’s two-year Teacher Induction Program.

During their first two years in the classroom, new teachers are required to participate in a comprehensive induction program during which they complete requirements for a Professional Clear teaching credential. The County’s innovative program pairs new teachers with veteran mentors from the same district and school to work together through the two-year program. As a result, new teachers are acclimated to the demands of the profession and the culture of their schools and districts. In part due to this program, Santa Barbara County has a much higher than average rate of new teachers choosing to remain in the profession.

On Saturday night, the first Salute to Teachers honored three Distinguished New Teachers and three Distinguished Mentor Teachers. There was also special recognition for the Santa Barbara County Teacher of the Year for 2013-14.
(See list below)

Distinguished New Teachers

  • Tyler Wilkes, Hollister School (GUSD)
  • Cheryl Lastra, Solvang School District
  • Jessica Zambrano, Santa Maria Joint Union HS District

Distinguished Mentor Teachers

  • Amanda Swiegart, Ellwood School (GUSD)
  • Michelle Poquette, Lompoc Unified School District
  • Megan Cotich, Santa Barbara Unified School District

Santa Barbara County Teacher of the Year

  • Kelly Choi, Dos Pueblos HS, Santa Barbara Unified School District

Click here more Salute to Teachers coverage at