West Sonoma County Teacher of the Year Award

The Sebastopol Rotary Education Foundation, a tax-exempt 501c3 charity, has been recognizing outstanding teachers since 2007 with a cash award and a luncheon banquet in their honor.  Students, alumni, parents, community members, and educators from across West Sonoma County are invited to submit nominations for the "Teacher of the Year" recognition program.   Teachers from public schools (including charter schools) and private schools located in West Sonoma County may be nominated.  Each "Teacher of the Year" receives a $1,000 cash award and is recognized, along with their guests, at a Sebastopol Rotary Club luncheon.  

Beginning in 2019-2020, SREF honors one teacher of the year in each of these categories:

  • New Teacher

  • Innovative Teacher(s)*

  • ​Career Service Teacher


*We have made one change for just this year.  In the category of Innovative Teacher, we want to include the possibility of honoring groups of teachers who, in the face of distance learning and other adaptations to meet the challenge of COVID-19, have collectively developed innovations that have helped deal with the extraordinary challenges of the past year. If a group (rather than an individual teacher) is selected, we will split the $1000 check among them equally. 

*Our mission is to secure and annually distribute funds in the form of grants, scholarships, and educational equipment or materials. Philanthropic activities are exclusively provided for the benefit of students in Western Sonoma County. The Foundation was established as an ongoing Endowment Fund that directs funds each year for educational purposes.




2019-2020 Awards

The Sebastopol Rotary Education Foundation (SREF) is pleased to honor 2019-2020 Teachers of the Year:   

Mary Jo Kinser, Pleasant Hill Christian School for a career of great performance and leadership; Sydnee Mardell, Twin Hills Charter Middle School for her stellar performance as a new teacher;  and Joe Maloney, Laguna HIgh School for his innovations to improve curriculum and career opportunities
Read the Full Press Release Here

  • Mary Jo Kinser:

    Career Service Teacher

    Pleasant Hill Christian School

    Mary Jo Kinser of Pleasant Hill Christian School has been teaching there for 38 years.  She is a founding teacher of the school.  Over the years, she has become known for both her high standards and her loving attitude for her students and her leadership with her fellow faculty members..

  • Sydnee Mardell:

    New Teacher

    Twin Hills Charter Middle School
    ​Twin Hills School District

    Sydnee Mardell of Twin Hills Charter Middle School has demonstrated great enthusiasm, a terrific work ethic, and a love of students every day since she first set foot on campus.  She has brought with her great understanding of how to use technology to improve education, and she has shown real leadership in solving school challenges, like how to continue teaching in a stay at home environment.

  • Joe Maloney:
    Innovative Teacher

    Laguna High School
    West Sonoma County Union High School District

    Joe Maloney of Laguna High School has for many years sought to give his students new and exciting career paths.  Most recently, he facilitated the opening of a chapter of the North Bay Construction Corps in West County, and he serves as its faculty member.


Julie Aiello, Kindergarten, Parkside School
Tim Forslund, Social Studies, Analy High School
Amanda Reece, Special Education, West Sonoma County Special Education Consortium
Sonoma West Times Article


Jolene Johnson, Dance Teacher, El Molino High School
Karen McKenna, 6th Grade English and History, Twin Hills Middle School
Jeff Stucker, 6th Grade English and History, Brook Haven School
Sonoma West Times Article


​Kate O'Brien,Kindergarten,  Sunridge School
Sara Gramm, 3rd Grade, Parkside School
Adam Alcorn, Special Education, Analy High School
Sonoma West Times Article


Nicole Ellwood, Special Education Twin Hills Middle School
Katya Robinson, West Sonoma County Special Education Consortium
Walt Hayes, Applied Arts & Technology, Analy High School
Sonoma West Times Article


​Sunny Galbraith, Orchard View School
Greg Corby, Brook Haven School
Mike Roan, El Molino High School
Sonoma West Times Article


Mary Fitch, Physical Sciences, Twin Hills Charter School
Sarah Prosser, 4th Grade, Sun Ridge Waldorf School
Lynn Stewart, English Language Learners, El Molino High School


Andy DelMonte, Choir, Analy High School
John Thomas, English, El Molino High School


Gianna De Persis Vona, English, Laguna High School
Rachel Lasek, Math, El Molino High School


Joe Compagno, Science, Analy High School
Vance Regan, Instrumental Music, Analy High School


Bill Olzman, Social Studies/English, El Molino High School
Lynette Williamson, English/Rhetoric, Analy High School


John Grech, Social Studies, El Molino High School
Cathy Wiese, Special Eduaction, Analy High School

©2021 by Sebastopol Rotary Education Foundation.