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Meadows Kindergarten Teacher Receives L.A. County Honors

Sep 19, 2016 11:20AM ● By Jeanne Fratello
Meadows Elementary School Kindergarten Teacher and MBUSD Teacher of the Year Alissa Opfer was named on Friday as a Los Angeles County Teacher of the Year.

The competition is the largest of its kind in the state and is part of the oldest and most prestigious honors contest in the U.S. for public school teachers. Each year, 16 L.A. County teachers are chosen for the honor from among the District Teachers of the Year in L.A. County.

Opfer began her career in the Manhattan Beach Unified School District as an instructional assistant while completing her Bachelor of Arts in Liberal Studies and teaching credential at Loyola Marymount University. In the fall of 1999, she started teaching at MBUSD’s Robinson Elementary and when her mother (a former Teacher of the Year herself) retired, Opfer moved to the vacancy at Meadows Elementary. She has been there ever since.

Before Opfer earned L.A. County Teacher of the Year status, she participated in the rigorous Manhattan Beach Unified School District Teacher of the Year process. After being named as Meadow’s Elementary top educator, Opfer and the Teachers of the Year from the other six MBUSD school sites were observed and interviewed by a committee of eight individuals comprised of teachers and administrators representing different levels and disciplines.

"There was an exceptional group of Manhattan Beach teachers nominated this year. Alissa’s heart, soul and mind represent the epitome of teaching excellence. Her genuine love for her students exudes from her every word and action in the classroom,” said Michael Hayden, former California Teacher of the Year and a member of the district’s selection committee.

MBUSD Assistant Superintendent for Educational Services Dr. Brett Geithman affirmed, “Alissa’s classroom radiates her positivity, compassion, and commitment to reach every student.”

Meadows Elementary Principal Katherine Whittaker-Stopp added, “While masterful in every grade she has taught, Alissa is magical in kindergarten. Her students are independent and capable because she has high expectations, believes in them, and she sets them up for success. Alissa is adored and respected by students, parents, and peers.”

The Teacher of the Year program, which features an annual luncheon recognition each September for all participants, is designed to provide much-deserved recognition for teachers. Those selected by the Los Angeles County Office of Education as County Teachers of the Year—educators who have shown exemplary dedication, compelling classroom practices, positive accomplishments and professional commitment—serve as standard-bearers for the teaching profession and their 80,000 classroom colleagues countywide.

"I'm able to really focus on the child as a whole, not only their educational and academic progress, but also to really let them know that I'm there to love them and take care of them," said Opfer in her Los Angeles Teacher of the Year introductory video. "We form our own classroom community throughout out the school year and that really helps each of my students to achieve his or her full potential."

Opfer, along with the other winners of the title, received $100 for supplies from Lakeshore Learning, and $1000 from California Credit Union. She and the other winners will go on to compete for the California Teacher of the Year title.

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