Guerneville Teacher Tammy Leyden Named Teacher of the Year
“Teacher of the Year. Whenever I read these words or hear them spoken my thoughts immediately go to Mrs. Georgia Tammy Leyden,” reads a letter in the nomination packet for the Sonoma County Teacher of the Year. The winner, Ms. Leyden, was selected by the Sonoma County Office of Education this May.
Leyden, who is retiring this year, teaches a first/second grade combination class at Guerneville School and has served in the teaching profession for nearly 40 years. She was selected as the Sonoma County nominee for California Teacher of the Year by the Sonoma County Office of Education (SCOE) for, among other things, her leadership and mentorship of other teachers; her ability to engage students; and her uniquely engaging and vibrant classroom. Perhaps most importantly, Leyden has a winning way with her young charges and a warm ability to communicate important issues to parents. She is seldom seen without a current or former student hugging her, the nomination notes.
“I’ve never seen anything like it,” said Superintendent Dana Pedersen. “On a daily basis Tammy emulates what a life-long learner is by genuinely wondering, inquiring and thinking alongside the students she teaches, the colleagues she mentors, and the countless pre-service teachers she coaches.”
Her involvement in the school community includes a founding role with the school’s Coordinating Council, a body that, according to the nomination, has transformed the way staff and leadership communicate about important school issues. “She has been a strong caring trailblazer for the Guerneville School faculty as she quietly, yet firmly stated her beliefs, led by example, gave from the heart to both her students and this community…” reads her main nomination letter, which was co-written by Pedersen and Principal Elaine Carlson.
They went on to talk about her leadership with other teachers: “You would be hard pressed to find a teacher in one of our 40 Sonoma County districts who has not been mentored, inspired or taught by Tammy Leyden, a beloved Adjunct Sonoma State Faculty member.”
“Not only has she affected the lives of multiple generations in our quaint community for the past four decades, but she has immensely impacted the next generation of teachers who will be charged with caring and preparing our students for an unknown world.”
In recognition of this achievement, Leyden will receive a $3,000 award from Community First Credit Union, season tickets to the Santa Rosa Symphony, and will work with SCOE’s Teacher of the Year coordinator to apply for the California Teacher of the Year.
The runner-up award went to Areli Carranza, a Transitional Kindergarten teacher at Taylor Mountain School in the Bellevue Unified School District.
“Ms. Areli Carranza is the guardian, coach, and mentor of our Transitional Kindergarten classroom,” said Principal Tawny Fernandez in the application. “She has created a classroom environment where learning and play are carefully interwoven so that the excitement and innate enthusiasm in ‘play’ becomes directly transmitted to their ‘learning.’ “
Ms. Carranza is the recipient of a $2,000 award provided by Community First Credit Union.