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3 L.A. County teachers named among California's 5 best

November 7, 2011 |  4:08 pm

Five teachers, including three from Los Angeles County schools, were named California's teachers of the year on Monday by state Supt. of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson.

Rebecca Mieliwocki, an English teacher at Luther Burbank Middle School in the Burbank Unified School District, was the one out of the five chosen to proceed to the national competition to become the teacher of the year.

The others from Los Angeles County include: Florence Avognon, an English teacher who was previously part of the Reading Intervention Specialists Teachers program at Central Juvenile Hall, which is run by the Los Angeles County Office of Education; and  Ken LaVigne, an English teacher at La Serna High School in the Whittier Union High School District. (In September, Avognon was transferred because of budget cuts to another court school, the Phoenix Academy, a residential treatment program for adolescent substance abusers.

Elsewhere in the state, the teachers of the year included Tom Collett, an eighth-grade science teacher at Newark Junior High School in Newark Unified School District in Alameda County; and Shari Ann Herout, a kindergarten teacher at Foxboro Elementary School in the Travis Unified School District in Solano County.

Torlakson said in a statement Monday that the teachers have demonstrated "a special ability to connect with their students, a zest for the classroom, a genuine passion for an occupation that is so demanding yet oh so rewarding."

He added: "Like all teachers in California, they are struggling with budget challenges and cutbacks in programs. That is what makes them even more extraordinary; I appreciate their determination to overcome obstacles while ensuring their students are learning -- no matter what."

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-- Rick Rojas

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