San Dieguito honors all certificated teachers as 2021 Teacher of the Year

District names Ana Maria Ochoa as 2021 Classified Employee of the Year


The San Dieguito Union High School District announced Ana Maria Ochoa as its 2021 Classified Employee of the Year and is celebrating all certificated staff for its 2021 Teacher of the Year honor.

Teacher of the Year
Ana Maria Ochoa

“This has been a very trying year for educators throughout the country, and it is important that we take the time to acknowledge the dedicated service that our classified and certificated employees provide to our students,” said San Dieguito Union High School District Superintendent Robert Haley in a release. “I am honored to congratulate Ana Maria Ochoa as the Classified Employee of the Year, an award that quite frankly could have been given to her many years for her service in the Transportation Department.

“Our district has also made the decision to honor all of our certificated staff members as the 2021 Teachers of the Year because doing so is indicative to the hard work and innovation that our teachers have put forth in what has been an unprecedented school year.”

Ochoa has been with the district for 19 years, starting as a school bus driver in August 2002. She became a California State-certified School Bus Driver Instructor in 2012 as a demonstration of her leadership and commitment to helping her peers and improving the quality of transportation for the students in the district.

In her current position as the department’s bus driver instructor, Ochoa ensures that all drivers continue to meet SDUHSD district standards prior to transporting any of the district’s students. Her duties include arranging and planning all training activities for all transportation employees in addition to scheduling DMV, CHP and physical appointments for school bus drivers and certain grounds department employees. Ochoa also ensures that all training records and motor carrier records are in proper order for the yearly California Highway Patrol Terminal Inspection.

Through her dedication and professionalism, SDUHSD has received the highest rating in each of the past seven years.

As the district winner, Ochoa advanced to the San Diego County Employee of the Year Program administered by the San Diego County Office of Education and competed with other school district winners for the title of San Diego County Classified Employee of the Year.

In an unprecedented year, SDUHSD teachers chose to honor and acknowledge each other as a collective body for the 2021 Teacher of the Year recognition. Teachers, counselors, school psychologists and student support specialists continued to serve the highest-need students on campuses throughout the year despite the obstacles brought forth by the pandemic.

Throughout the year, SDUHSD educators continued to display their passion for teaching and supporting students, adapting to new technology systems and changing public health orders. According to Canyon Crest Academy junior Haewon Chung, teachers went above and beyond while dealing with their own personal challenges due to the pandemic, offering up things like AP review sessions to yoga sessions and dance parties as ways to connect with students, help alleviate stress and improve mental health.

“We have the best teachers in the world. They are all so supportive and want everyone to do their best,” said Zander Samarsinghe, the student board representative from Torrey Pines High School.

At the April 22 meeting, the SDUHSD approved a resolution declaring May 2-8 Teacher Appreciation Week, May 4 as the Day of the Teacher and May 16-22 as Classified School Employees Week.

“The experienced, professional educators at my children’s schools could be recognized every minute, every day and it still wouldn’t be enough,” said parent Jen Charat. “The educators made this year an experience my sons will always remember as a year in which they could find a way. I’m very grateful.”