WALNUT CREEK, CA—County Superintendent of Schools Lynn Mackey announced that teachers Chavonta Edington of Diablo Vista Middle School (San Ramon Valley Unified School District) and Natasha Paul of Mt. Diablo High School (Mt. Diablo Unified School District) was named the 2022-2023 Contra Costa County Teachers of the Year.
The announcement was made Thursday night during the county’s 50th annual Teacher of the Year Gala, which was held at the Lesher Center in Walnut Creek, CA. The pair are now eligible to apply to the California State Teachers of the Year program.
Supported by Visionary Sponsors Chevron, Lesher Community Foundation, and Martinez Refinery Company, 19 Contra Costa Teachers celebrated the 50th Anniversary of the Contra Costa County Teachers of the Year Program with a special reception and gala. The county Teachers of the Year program dates to 1973; the event seeks to honor and recognize teachers throughout the county for the commendable work they do every day.
“Congratulations to Contra Costa County’s newest Teachers of the Year,” Contra Costa County Superintendent of Schools Lynn Mackey said. “Chavonta Edington and Natasha Paul represent all teaching professionals in the county, and we are cheering for them as they head to the state Teacher of the Year programme. All of the honored educators deserve our thanks. We appreciate them for their hard work but also for the guidance and relationships they have forged with students, giving them inspiration for college and careers in the future as well as the confidence to take on academic challenges they will face throughout their educational journeys.”
Edington has been teaching for 23 years and has been in her current position at Diablo Vista Middle School for 16 years. She teaches instrumental music (Band, Jazz Band, and Orchestra) to 6th – 8th graders and is the Performing Arts Lead Teacher at her School. A guest lecturer at the University of the Pacific and Keynote speaker at several conferences, Edington is a 2021 recipient of the “Beyond the Baton” award for reaching her students beyond the music classroom.
She is a graduate of the University of the Pacific where she earned a BA in Music Education. Edington has an MA of Music Education from Northwestern University and holds a Cross-cultural, Language, and Academic Development (CLAD) Certificate from St. Mary’s College. She is currently in the process of obtaining a Preliminary Administrative Services Credential.
She is a member of several associations including the California Band Directors Association where she was the founding Chair for the Social Justice Consortium. In 2020, she joined the California Orchestra Directors Association and co-authored a Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Access Plan for Female and Black, Indigenous, Persons of Color (BIPOC) representation. Since 2015, Edington has also been a Mentor for the Teacher Induction Program at her school district, focusing on supporting first-year teachers and as curriculum lead for her school, she does not take the role lightly.
“My position as curriculum lead allows me to coordinate professional development opportunities for our music staff,” Edington said. “One of our recent endeavors is a collaboration involving the music of Northern and Southern India. Our district serves a large Indian population, and we recognize the need to have our students’ culture represented in our teaching.”
“She differentiates the music curriculum for her students and has a welcoming classroom environment,” San Ramon Valley Unified School District Elementary Executive Director Nadine Rosenzweig said. “Staff respect and look up to Chavonta. She is available to meet and listen to the visual and performing arts teachers across the district. Chavonta solves problems and is solution oriented. She is seen as a leader among her peers and appreciated by staff at her school and districtwide.”
Natasha Paul is a 19-year teaching veteran, spending the last 16 years as a 9th – 12th grade English teacher at Mt. Diablo High School. She is a member of the National Council of Teachers (NCTE), California Teachers Association (CTA), California Association of Teachers of English (CATE), and a Board Member of a Curriculum Study Commission where she helps plan and implement an annual conference for English and ELD teachers in Asilomar, CA.
A graduate of Cal Poly University at San Luis Obispo where she earned a BA in English, Paul received her teaching certificate from St. Mary’s College in Moraga, CA. She is currently taking courses through Cal State East Bay to earn a Preliminary Administrative Services Credential.
Taking on leadership roles in staff development, she has served as a WASC Committee Co-Chair, Planning committee member of an Immigration Resources Fair, 9th grade English Lead Teacher, ACME Academy Co-Lead Teacher, and in 2022 was part of the Equitable Grading PLC at Mount Diablo High School. Additionally, she has served as Participating Teacher for Student Teachers affiliated with several local universities and has contributed to numerous professional development conferences and workshops over the course of her career. Paul also received the Certificate of Mastery from the 2021-2022 Modern Classrooms Project Mentorship Program. Mt. Diablo is her Alma Mater and a place she has taught at for sixteen years.
“My greatest pride has been working with the career academies at Mt. Diablo High School in Concord, CA,” Paul said. “The first 14 years of my career I worked with an incredible, innovative group of teachers in the Digital Safari Academy. Together, we built the program from a 2-year, 11th and 12th grade multi-media curriculum focused on project-based learning, to a 4-year, 9-12th dual pathway program, incorporating Multimedia, Computer Science, Art, English, and Social Studies.”
“Natasha has developed as a leader who models innovative teaching strategies through reflection and dedication to improving students’ well-being and overall learning outcomes,” Mt. Diablo Unified School District Instructional Coach Jeanne M. Johnson said, “She exhibits strength in vulnerability when challenged, which is a great model for our students. Natasha works very hard to create a balance between challenging her students and making them feel safe and cared for.”
Edington and Paul were selected as winners from four finalists that were announced in the spring. The other two finalists were Serina Culleton of Donald L. Rheem Elementary School (Moraga School District) and Paula L. Rathert of Murwood Elementary School (Walnut Creek School District). The finalists were selected from the 19 district teachers of the year which represented 16 school districts, the county office and community college district.
Edington and Paul will represent Contra Costa County at the California State Teacher of the Year competition. The State Teachers of the Year are expected to be announced in mid-October. The county teacher of the year program is coordinated by the Contra Costa County Office of Education (CCCOE).