2024 Teacher of the Year for VCOE-Operated Schools is Announced

  • 4/23/2024 8:22:00 AM

Chris Geist, who has dedicated her career to teaching students incarcerated at the Ventura County Juvenile Facility, has been named the 2024 Teacher of the Year for schools operated by the Ventura County Office of Education (VCOE). Ms. Geist will now have the opportunity to compete for the Ventura County Teacher of the Year award, which is open to all teachers countywide.


Ms. Geist found out she was being honored during a surprise announcement on Monday at the County Juvenile Facility. She walked into a conference room to find her family and colleagues waiting for her along with Dr. César Morales, Ventura County Superintendent of Schools. Also on hand to break the good news were VCOE Associate Superintendent of Student Services Dr. Consuelo Hernandez Williams, VCOE Director of Alternative Education Stefanie Rodriguez, and Providence School Assistant Principal Teresa Vega.


Ms. Geist has been a teacher for 32 years and has spent the last 20 at Providence School. Providence serves students who face a host of challenges to learning due to their incarceration and their continual interactions with the legal system. Providence School administrators say Ms. Geist has a compassionate nature that lets her break down the barriers that students face. “Many of our students have had negative experiences in school, but Ms. Geist magically turns them around,” said Assistant Principal Vega. “She helps them learn about their academic strengths and feel good about themselves and their abilities.”


One of Ms. Geist’s students, who is about to earn his high school diploma, said, “What I appreciate the most about Ms. Geist is how she pushes me to succeed no matter how much I push her away. I can always depend on Ms. Geist to help me through difficult times or when I feel like giving up.”


Ms. Giest works closely with VCOE’s partners at the Ventura County Probation Agency and Behavioral Health Department to maximize opportunities for student success. “Teachers like Chris Geist are true heroes,” said Superintendent Morales. “Countless Providence students have overcome the mistakes of their past and gone on to lead productive lives thanks to the care and attention she gives them.”


Nominations for the countywide Teacher of the Year program are being accepted until May 10. Additional information is available at www.vcoe.org/TeacheroftheYear.


Photo Caption: Providence School Teacher Chris Geist with Dr. César Morales, Ventura County Superintendent of Schools