In a surprise ceremony today at Mountain View Elementary School in Simi Valley, teacher Jamie Reese was awarded the Ventura County Teacher of the Year by Ventura County Superintendent of Schools Stan Mantooth from the Ventura County Office of Education, and Simi Valley Unified School District Superintendent Dr. Jason Peplinski.

Ms. Reese teaches a Special Day Class for K-3 grade at Mountain View Elementary School, where she’s been since 2009. Her peers, and her principal, Jennifer Goldman, nominated her for her commitment to her students and their families, and for her unending support of her fellow teachers and staff. She is known around the District for her high level of technology knowledge and willingness to help and train other teachers and staff. She helped her co-workers at Mountain View Elementary create and maintain individual websites to better the flow of communication between the classrooms and families. She has mentored new teachers through the county’s programs, produces a districtwide monthly newsletter and is a Google Certified Educator, to name just a few of her efforts.

“As a site-based administrator, there is a part of me that wants to keep her right here on campus all of the time; however, that would be a tremendous disservice to the profession,” Ms. Goldman said. “Ms. Reese possesses unlimited potential to impact countless students by sharing her vision with teachers across the country.”

Students are the highest priority for Ms. Reese. She wrote, “When I think about my views on teaching, I keep coming back to the students. I believe that teaching should be student-centered, but what does that actually look like in a classroom…. I believe that by making my classroom more student centered, I am able to more frequently highlight the strengths of my students and as a direct result of that, students are excited about school and their self-esteem goes up.”

In the nomination application, one of Ms. Reese’s students said, “She makes me happy. She does things to make me laugh. She turns me into a burrito when I am mad. I can talk to her when something is bothering me. She teaches very good. She reads mindset stories to teach me not to give up.”

“We are incredibly proud of Ms. Reese and her commitment to her students, families and co-workers,” Dr. Peplinski said. “This is an amazing honor for her to receive. We are lucky to have such highly skilled and committed teachers, like Ms. Reese, in our classrooms. Her enthusiasm is contagious and she serves as a great model for other educators everywhere.”

Ms. Reese will go on to compete at the state level in 2017 for Teacher of the Year. This program has been in place since 1973 and this is the first SVUSD winner since 1977.

Welcome our new administrative hires from out of the district



He started as a business major, but Tim Bednar was drawn to another discipline, which he followed.

“I decided it was a calling to go into education and teach English and coach a sport,” he said.

For many years, Mr. Bednar taught English and coached Boy’s Basketball, mostly at Moorpark High School. Now he leaves his position as Moorpark’s Assistant Principal to serve as the new Principal of Hillside Middle School, a position he said he’s excited to begin.

“When I look at moving to another position, I look at moving to a school that I feel is up and coming. I know that a good number of parents and students want to attend Hillside. And that was a draw for me, people really wanting to be at the school,” he said.

Married for 33 years to his high school sweetheart, Mr. Bednar has four grown children (two boys and two girls) and two grandchildren.



Going to UC Berkeley to become a lawyer was the starting goal for Angelica Chavez. But plans changed after she had an encounter of another kind.

“I started mentoring a girl and I realized I wanted to help kids before they needed a lawyer.” she said chuckling. “I changed my major to history, just in case I wanted to go back into law.”

Fortunately she never had to turn back to the law. Teaching now for more than a decade, Dr. Chavez has been teaching in the Multimedia Business Academy at Oxnard High School. She’s also taught in the Green Technology Academy. Both backgrounds will transition nicely into the specialized programs found at Santa Susana High School, where she will serve as the Assistant Principal next year.

Dr. Chavez said it was Santa Susana’s unique programs that drew her to the job.

“I’m really interested in the wall-to-wall academy structure,” she said.

Dr. Chavez is married and has one son, 19, who attends college locally.



Eddie Grigorian is bursting with excitement.

Coming in the Simi Valley Unified School District as Valley View Middle School’s new Assistant Principal, Mr. Gregorian said he can’t wait to get started on what he sees is a perfect fit between his skills and passion and the district’s evolution.

“It’s an opportunity for me to grow,” Mr. Grigorian said. “When I walked into your district office, it was home. It felt right. This is education. Everyone is polite and warm and nice.”

Mr. Grigorian is a former history teacher Chatsworth Charter High School (LAUSD). He’s single (except for his puppy) and committed to helping other people through education.

“I always wanted to help people and motivate others. I feel amazing when I’m able to help someone and to do that every day and to help others reach their goals, it’s amazing,” he said. “With a district that’s growing and moving in the right direction. I want to be a part of it.”

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For Aaron Dobson, Southern California means family—being closer to family, enjoying his growing family and working at a school where he said he could tell from everything he read that it was like being a part of a family.

“The more I learned about Royal High School, the more it was a lock for me. There’s so much about Royal online. Even Mr. Derrick having a Twitter account–I just can see this prevailing tone of family and spirit. And that’s a lot like the high school and community I came from in Michigan,” he said.

His wife is also a teacher, a math specialist, and they have two children, a two-year-old daughter and a newborn son.

While currently working as an Assistant Principal for a large elementary school (1,200 students) in Sunnyvale, Mr. Dobson’s background is in high school activities. He said that he grew up in a small town where most of the focus was on local education.

“School was always a big part of my life,” he said. “Becoming a teacher seemed like a natural progression for me.”