Alisyn Banton of Miguelito School (left) and Frank Koroshec of San Marcos High School | Credit: Courtesy of Santa Barbara County Education Office

Ten educators were honored at the Salute to Teachers ceremony Saturday, hosted by the Santa Barbara County Education Office at the Music Academy of the West. Among those celebrated were Alisyn Blanton of Miguelito School and Frank Koroshec of San Marcos High School, the 2022 and 2021 teachers of the year, respectively. 

A 5th-grade teacher in the Lompoc School District, Blanton is known as Ms. Bee to her students, whom she considers her hive. Her voice shook slightly as she fought back tears when talking about the support from her family, friends, and students. “I will continue to do better and be better,” Blanton said. “I will continue to do better every day because of my hive.”

Koroshec is an English teacher at San Marcos High School, where he has been teaching for about 11 years. Dr. Susan Salcido, the county superintendent of schools, described Koroshec as an “impactful educator” and a “dedicated advocate.”

Koroshec spoke about the struggles of online and distance learning for teachers and students, and the ability of educators to adapt and serve many roles for students who need them. “We’ve been asked to dig deep, and I don’t think we realize just how strong we are,” Koroshec said. “We deserve a bit of joy.”

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The 2021 and 2022 Santa Barbara Bowl Performing Arts Teachers of the Year were also honored at the event, with 2021 winner Elizabeth Caruso from Santa Barbara Unified’s Monroe School, and 2022 winner Josie Coburn from Orcutt Academy High School in the Orcutt Union School District. 

Coburn works with several schools in the Orcutt School District and oversees anywhere from 800 to 1,000 students every year. As a music instructor, Coburn said she loves to see the progression of a student’s musical ability through gaining confidence and practice. “Music enriches our lives in so many ways,” Coburn said.

The distinguished new educators of 2021-2022 were spotlighted as well, including Christina Peña Eckert of Carpinteria Middle School in the Carpinteria Unified School District, Samantha Ayala at La Honda STEAM Academy in the Lompoc Unified School District, and T.J. Berry of Santa Ynez Valley Union High School in the Santa Ynez Valley Union High School District. 

The distinguished mentors of 2021-2022 are Lorena Armstrong, a 2nd-grade teacher from Mary Buren School in the Guadalupe Union School District; Melissa Woods, a teacher in the Dos Pueblos Engineering Academy at Dos Pueblos High School in the Santa Barbara Unified School District; and Riccardo Magni, an AP science teacher at Pioneer Valley High School in the Santa Maria Joint Union High School District.

“Teachers, tonight we thank you and salute you for your unwavering commitment to our children,” Salcido said. “When we do what is right for children, we do what is right for the world.”

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