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Ashford University Celebrates San Diego's Best Teachers at the Annual "A Salute to Teachers" Event
Five local educators named 2014 San Diego Teachers of the Year

San Diego’s finest educators were honored this past weekend at the 23rd annual A Salute to Teachers event sponsored by Ashford University. The black-tie gala, held Oct. 5 at the Balboa Theatre in downtown San Diego, was a presentation of the 40th Annual San Diego County Teacher of the Year Awards.

“A Salute to Teachers celebrates the hard work and dedication of San Diego County’s 26,000 school teachers who not only educate, but also inspire and motivate their students every day,” said Dr. Randy Ward, superintendent of schools for San Diego County. “No other community in the nation honors its teachers with a production like ‘Salute,’ and we’d like to thank our business community for its generous support over the years.”

Five outstanding teachers – selected from a pool of 45 nominees representing 26,000 San Diego school teachers in 43 districts – were named 2014 San Diego County Teachers of the Year and are now in the running for California’s Teacher of the Year. Nominees were selected by their school districts based on student achievement, teaching philosophy, familiarity with current issues in education, and community involvement.

Ashford University President Dr. Richard Pattenaude presented the first San Diego Teacher of the Year finalist to the sold-out crowd of 1300.

“Ashford University is proud to honor the county’s best teachers and be a part of this special celebration,” said Dr. Pattenaude. “Teachers are vital in shaping our future and the future of our children. They prepare students for the world and help pave the way for greater opportunity. It is important for all of us to recognize their efforts and contributions to the greater good of our society.”

The San Diego County Teachers of the Year are:

  • Kerry Araiza, Pomerado Elementary School (Poway Unified School District)
  • Eileen Bagg-Rizzo, Santana High School (Grossmont Union High School District)
  • Bethany Chaffin, Reidy Creek Elementary School (Escondido Union School District)
  • Cynthia Jackson, Hidden Valley Middle School (Escondido Union School District)
  • Crystal Rienick, Valley Center High School (Valley Center-Pauma Unified School District)

The Salute to Teachers award ceremony aired live on San Diego’s Channels 4 and 1004 and will replay on those same channels at 9:30 p.m. on Oct. 12, and 9 p.m. on Oct. 18. The 23rd annual Salute to Teachers was a coproduction of Cox Communications and the San Diego County Office of Education.


About Ashford University

Achievement belongs to all of us at Ashford University. By offering a traditional college campus as well as online degree programs, Ashford meets the diverse needs of individuals pursuing integrity in their lives and in their communities. Students may earn an associates, bachelor’s, or master’s degree online, while campus students in Clinton, Iowa may earn a bachelor’s degree. Whether on campus or online, Ashford students enjoy the same supportive community. For more information, please visit or call Shari Winet Rodriguez, Vice President of Public Relations, at 858.513.9240 x2513.