Meet the 2024 Ventura County Teacher of the Year

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Cook2Dr. César Morales, Ventura County Superintendent of Schools, is pleased to announce that Daniel Cook from Adolfo Camarillo High School (ACHS) in the Oxnard Union High School District is the 2024 Ventura County Teacher of the Year. Cook found out about the honor today when a group of local education officials made a surprise visit to the campus in Camarillo.


Cook is a 16-year teaching veteran who currently serves as a Learning, Instruction, & Technology (LIT) Coach. Prior to that, he was Chair of the school’s music department. As an LIT coach, Cook provides training and support to his fellow teachers so they can best meet students’ needs. One of his top priorities at ACHS was to reduce the number of students who were getting Ds and Fs in math. He led an effort to rewrite the school’s math curriculum to provide more time for struggling students to learn the math concepts they needed. The result was a 40 percent decrease in D and F grades. 


ACHS Principal Matt La Belle has high praise for Cook. “In my 29 years in education, Mr. Cook stands out as the most unique and talented teacher with whom I have ever worked,” La Belle said. “He is a modern-day Renaissance man, talented and highly skilled in the arts, humanities, social sciences, and technology.”


During his time leading the music department, Cook more than doubled its size and secured over $200,000 in grant funding. He made an effort to teach music that relates to events such as the US civil rights movement and the September 11 attacks to give students an additional dimension of learning. “As a music teacher and conductor, I see myself as a living metaphor,” Cook said. “I provide my students and staff with leadership in interpretation but mostly work the rehearsals that prepare the program for performance. Each of my days is filled with scores of crescendos and diminuendos—for all of which I am humbly grateful.”


Some of Cook’s students have gone on to attend Ivy League universities and leading music conservatories throughout the world. “The rewards I find in teaching vary, but students reaching out after graduation and sharing their love of music feels like a symphony in my heart,” he said. “Their outreach means I fostered a passion for art and culture—and this is healthy for all of society.”


Dr. Morales said Cook’s career shows that dedicated teachers can make a major impact both inside and outside of the classroom. “Mr. Cook has had a direct impact on countless students, but he’s also made a tremendous difference at ACHS and other local schools by mentoring his colleagues, enhancing teaching methods, and leveraging technology. It’s an honor to name him Ventura County’s 2024 Teacher of the Year.”


Oxnard Union High School District Superintendent Dr. Tom McCoy said, “Daniel is a huge influence in all of our change processes across the district and we are so grateful to work with him. Daniel believes in kids. That’s what makes him great.”


Cook is the grandson of immigrants, and his parents were teenagers when he was born. He credits the teachers in his life for seeing his potential and inspiring him to pursue higher education; he aims to do the same for his students. “My ‘why’ is the need to express and manifest my deep gratitude and intrinsic desire to serve others by providing the same viable pathways for anyone who wants to journey this road of education.”


With Cook’s win, ACHS is now home to three Ventura County Teachers of the Year. Science teacher Shannon Klemann had the honor in 2022. And library media teacher Heidi Resnik won in 2005 when she was teaching at Pacifica High School in Oxnard. Cook is now eligible to compete for a chance at becoming the California Teacher of the Year.


More about the Teacher of the Year Program


The Teacher of the Year program is administered by the Ventura County Office of Education. Candidates are nominated by their district, school, or professional organization. A panel of educators selects the winner based on the candidate’s essay, experience, and an introductory letter from their sponsor. Winners at the county level become eligible to be considered for the California Teacher of the Year award. The first Ventura County Teacher of the Year was named in 1973. Additional information about the Teacher of the Year program, including a list of past honorees, is available by clicking here.