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Rachel Hernandez Named Teacher Of The Year

The San Joaquin County Office of Education (SJCOE) has announced that Rachel Hernandez has been named the 2020 San Joaquin County Teacher of the Year.

As San Joaquin County Teacher of the Year, Hernandez received $1,000 from Premier Community Credit Union, a longtime supporter of educators in San Joaquin County. Hernandez’s nomination will now be submitted to the state for consideration as California Teacher of the Year.

Hernandez has taught in the SJCOE Deaf and Hard of Hearing Program for 18 years and currently teaches students at Sierra High School in the Manteca Unified School District. She was nominated by Katy Eyer, SJCOE special education director.

“Rachel is passionate about her students’ access and equality in education. She works very closely with the general education teachers on her campus for mainstreaming and integrates students into the campus culture,” Eyer said, noting that two of Hernandez’s students graduating high school this year had also been her students as kindergartners. “Her students are more like family, and she is able to share in their accomplishments with them. Rachel pours her heart and soul into her students and their education.”

When asked about her approach to teaching, Hernandez said she tries to find what will work for each individual student.

“I’ve taught the same book at the same time to different students, and how I present it to one student is completely different to how I present it to another. The story is identical. The book is identical. But how that student learns – how they understand, how they grasp it, how they relate it to self and life – all that varies,” she said. “It’s really making sure that my students can connect in their own way, with their own understanding, and with their own minds.”

The winner of the award is typically announced at the annual San Joaquin County Classified Employees and Teacher of the Year Awards Celebration Dinner. However, due to COVID-19, the June event was canceled.

This year, the winner was announced on the SJCOE Facebook page (@sjcoefb) following a week of online recognition for all San Joaquin County Teacher of the Year finalists at

Each finalist also received $400 from Premier Community Credit Union. They are:

Linda Davis, Shasta Elementary School, Manteca Unified School District;

April Egusquiza, Farmington Elementary School, Escalon Unified School District;

Laura LaRue, Bear Creek High School, Lodi Unified School District;

Laura Sudderth, Lincoln Elementary School, Manteca Unified School District.

The county Classified School Employees of the Year winners were announced earlier this year. Each winner received $400 from Premier Community Credit Union and is nominated to be California School Employee of the Year. They are:

Child Nutrition: Rodney Carruesco, Child Nutrition Department Delivery Driver, Stockton Unified School District;

Maintenance, Operations, And Facilities: Maria Barragan, Sierra High School Custodian, Manteca Unified School District;

Office And Technical: Raquel Babauta, District Office Secretary, Ripon Unified School District;

Para-Educator And Instructional Assistance: Rose Craighead, Paraprofessional, Shasta Elementary School, Manteca Unified School District;

Support Services And Security: Veronica Lynch, Communications Specialist, Stockton Unified School District.

San Joaquin County Office of Education (SJCOE) provides educational leadership, resources, and services to support schools throughout the county. With its programs, staff, and community partnerships, SJCOE ensures that every student in San Joaquin County has the opportunity of a quality education. For more information, visit