The Ventura County Office of Education is pleased to announce that Leah Oviedo of Walnut Elementary School in the Conejo Valley Unified School District is the 2017 Ventura County Teacher of the Year. Oviedo and her students found out about the honor today when her family, local dignitaries and members of the media made a surprise visit to her classroom (photos and videos are available here).
Oviedo has worked in education for 16 years and currently teaches fifth grade. She was nominated by Walnut Elementary School Principal, Aileen Wall, who says she exemplifies what quality teaching is all about. “I have personally been inspired by Mrs. Oviedo’s dedication to excellence when observing her as a fellow teacher in the past and now as her principal. She makes a daily impact on the lives of her students while also influencing colleagues as a teacher leader,” Wall said.
Oviedo personalizes her approach for each of her students. She has them set their own academic goals, such as increasing their reading level, and then reviews their progress weekly so they can be inspired by the improvement they are making. She also makes an extra effort to connect with parents so they can be active partners in their children’s education.
Oviedo says her friends often ask her if she got into teaching to have summers off. She tells them, “No, impacting lives is why I chose this profession and why others should enter the teaching profession. Every day, 31 students trust me, as their teacher, to guide them. There are days where I ponder the struggles within the classroom, but then I receive reminders of why I chose this profession, and realize I am making an impact,” she says.
Providing personalized and engaging instruction to her students on a daily basis is only part of what makes Oviedo stand out. She has also advocated for children with special needs, helped students raise money and collect food for families in need and mentored fellow teachers on strategies that have worked well in her own classroom. She even makes her own crafts to sell at school fundraisers. “Leah Oviedo has distinguished herself, not only with her outstanding teaching, but by the way she gives of herself to better the lives of her students and fellow teachers,” said Stan Mantooth, Ventura County Superintendent of Schools.
Oviedo is now eligible to be considered for the 2018 California Teacher of the Year award.
The dignitaries who were on hand to honor Oviedo today included Ventura County Superintendent of Schools Stan Mantooth; CVUSD Superintendent Dr. Ann Bonitatibus; Walnut Elementary School Principal Aileen Wall; CVUSD Board of Education Members Dr. Betsy Connolly, Sandee Everett and Pat Phelps; CVUSD Deputy Superintendent of Instruction Robert Iezza; CVUSD Assistant Superintendent for Business Services Dr. Victor Hayek; CVUSD Director of Elementary Education Jeanne Valentine; CVUSD Assistant Superintendent for Human Resources Mark McLaughlin; and Randy Smith, President of the Unified Association of Conejo Teachers.