2020 RAVE Nominees

RAVE Nominees 2020

Mindy Chen, Teacher, Monroe Elementary School

"Miss Chen is an excellent, hard-working teacher and she is responsible for every student. During this distance learning period, she recorded lots of videos for every subject, such as reading, writing, phonics, and science. With the help of Miss Chen, my daughter was able to learn happily from home."-Nominated 6/2020

Alma Cunningham, Teacher, Charles Drew Elementary School

"I have been in awe at the level of dedication and care that Ms. Cunningham has put into her classroom during the school closure period. Initially, when it was a challenge getting students to log into Zoom, she was doing daily 1:1 check-in with students and families. She worked extremely hard to get her families connected and now holds daily class meetings during the week. She is very thoughtful and utilizes a variety of resources to engage students who are very young and, naturally, often distracted. Ms. Cunningham is extremely positive and flexible when working with students and families. She has done all of this with a sense of ease despite how challenging and uncertain things are. I really hope that Ms. Cunningham is recognized as an outstanding teacher who goes above and beyond!"-Nominated 5/2020

Sharon Cheng, Teacher, Presidio Middle School

"During these unprecedented times, Sharon Cheng has demonstrated great composure and veteran leadership creating distance learning an enjoyable experience. As a result students have been engaged in whole class, small groups, and individualized support during lessons and projects. Sharon's warm demeanor creates a safe place for all students to learn and feel at home. Sharon creates strong relationships with students that allows her to give feedback on performance to exceed past students' own expectations. Most importantly, Sharon has brought our community together by creating online workout videos that feature special guest teachers from other departments on a weekly basis. Videos are masterfully edited to feature theatrical themes and music."-Nominated 5/2020

7th Grade ELA Team (Aisling Prange and David Kirsch), Teachers, Roosevelt Middle School

"This team has excelled in building project-based learning experiences for their students. Ms. Prange and Mr. Kirsch have given students a variety of opportunities for expressing their voices and choices throughout the year. They have continued to expect excellence from students while supporting them in culturally responsive education. They are constantly rebuilding and revising their curriculum to better fit the needs of their students. This team consistently implements strategies learned in various site-based, district-based, and other professional development and led their department and staff in implementing project-based learning and culturally responsive teaching practices. "-Nominated 5/2020

Simone Saldanha, Engagement Coordinator, Student Nutrition Services

"Simone is an invaluable asset to Student Nutrition Services and has played a pivotal role in supporting students and families throughout SFUSD in receiving meal delivery since school closure. She effectively coordinates with case managers, delivery drivers, and families to ensure students with disabilities, dietary restrictions, and immediate need, receive meals. Simone's responsiveness, attention to detail, and commitment to serving students and families exemplify integrity. Her dedication to ensuring meals for students is essential to their ability to learn and engage. She should be celebrated for not only ensuring meals but for also creating the circumstances required for teachers to ensure learning."-Nominated 5/2020

Jennifer Li, A.P. Giannini Middle School 

"I am nominating Ms. Li because I feel like she has done a great job teaching my child during Distance Learning. She is hardworking, encouraging, and positive to her students. Ms. Li encouraged the students to complete the assignments even when work was optional. She responds to my child's emails in a timely manner and explains her assignments very thoroughly."-Nominated 5/2020

Amy Whitcomb, Teacher, Sunnyside Elementary School 

"She is an amazing teacher who inspires her students to be excited about learning every day. She connects to her students on their individual levels and needs. During the Shelter in Place she was there from day one; supporting and encouraging her students and their families to adjust to Distance Learning and the radical shift in our lives. Her work ethic, enthusiasm for learning, and her passion for teaching are some of the many qualities that I admire. She is committed to every student’s academic and emotional well being. She is just a great teacher and has a unique ability to connect every situation to a teachable moment. She has been extraordinary! I am so incredibly grateful that she is my son’s teacher."-Nominated 5/2020

Elizabeth Lee, Teacher, Ulloa Elementary School 

"Ms. Lee’s passion, commitment, and dedication to teaching and making sure the kids’ academics go uninterrupted through virtual/Distant Learning has really shown through during this difficult time. She works tirelessly to review all the submitted work through Seesaw and Google classroom work and takes time to comment/provide feedback to each and every student. Ms. Lee conducts daily Zoom meetings and small group meetings to make sure her students are continuing to learn every day. She devotes a lot of time to make sure the daily schedule/assignments are full of different, fun, and interesting subjects. Moreover, She is always available to answer any questions the parents/students have. Ms. Lee encourages all of her students to work hard and maintain a positive attitude in the face of changes and challenges."-Nominated 5/2020

Marisa Lawrence, Teacher, McKinley Elementary School 

"Ms. Lawrence has gone above and beyond teaching my son and his third-grade class while school is closed. I felt like she was a great teacher in the first place but she has really stood out to me since the school closure. I can see the assignments and effort she makes more now since I am more involved in my son's learning during this time. I think Ms. Lawrence puts 110% into her job! She is very caring, kind, extremely patient, and is good at explaining things to the kids. She puts so much work into the assignments to make sure the kids are learning. On top of that, she is a mom of two little kids so I am sure she has to take care of them at the same time as she is teaching my son and his class. I can tell that she loves her job just by how much effort she puts into it. It really shows!"-Nominated 5/2020

Jamila Benkhoud, Teacher, A.P. Giannini Middle School 

"My daughter has J for 8th-grade social studies and she is more actively engaged in this class than any other class. She gets a lot of self-confidence from J's high standards and the assumption that their students will learn and succeed. I feel like the skills and material my daughter is learning in J's class will stay with her for a lifetime. When my 8th-grade son and his friends wanted to start an economics club, they went to J. J gave up a lunch period every week to help these students understand the basics of economics and support them in their efforts to start a school store. Teachers who manage to inspire and connect with their students have a special gift. But it also takes a lot of effort. J is beloved and respected because they so obviously love and respect their students, materials, and profession."-Nominated 5/2020

John Zwoliski, Teacher, A.P. Giannini Middle School 

"He is supportive of his students, he’s positive, kind, creative, and always helps you out if you are stuck. Mr. Zwoliski always comes up with fun assignments that challenge us in a good way to help us learn, such as the Scroll Project. I can tell he really enjoys being a teacher."

"Mr. Zwolinski is my son's favorite teacher. Before the school closure, my son came home from school most days telling me what he learned in history that day. He seemed excited and interested in what he learned. He also tells me now but he really enjoyed being in class with Mr. Zwolinski. My son really enjoyed Mr. Zwolinski's class before the school closure and even with the school closure Mr. Zwolinski is still teaching the kids. He makes it clear that he is there for them if they need anything."-Nominated 2 times 5/2020

Brian Liberman, Teacher, A.P. Giannini Middle School

"Mr. Liberman stands out for his commitment to helping students learn and thrive. He has always been (even before Shelter in Place) responsive to questions from parents and students. He keeps everyone (including parents) posted on the latest assignments and lessons. He was one of the teachers to effectively roll out his lesson plans for Distance Learning. Since day one, my child has been learning. He was able to lead the class and not miss a beat. He keeps parents updated and is transparent with his expectations for his students and their work. He is very responsive, returning emails quickly. He epitomizes teaching."-Nominated 5/2020

Raymond Lie, Teacher, A.P. Giannini Middle School

"Mr. Lie keeps his students engaged and keeps his curriculum relevant to the world around them. All year he has done this. In this time of coronavirus and at-home learning, he has stepped up and is offering live classes and discussions with students. He continues to challenge them to learn from the past and think about how it applies to the present and the future. He's dedicated to his subject and his students. He finds ways to keep things interesting and engaging so that students are involved in their learning and not just sitting back listening to a lecture. I think Mr. Lie represents what great middle school teachers look like."-Nominated 5/2020

Sarah Rosati, Teacher, Monroe Elementary School

"I would like to shine a light on how helpful Ms. Rosati has been to our 4th-grade daughter. She has always encouraged her throughout the school year and we have noticed how much more confident our daughter has become because of all the freedom she has given our child in being herself. Ms. Rosati has been extremely helpful in helping us set up our daughter's Zoom because we were having so many problems with it in the beginning. Being that I am an essential worker, she has made my life just that much easier in going above and beyond during this pandemic. She is so understanding and patient with the children. She has been very helpful throughout this whole transition to online learning and a positive role model for our daughter"-Nominated 5/2020

Kristina Kim, Teacher, Grattan Elementary School

"Ms. Kim has gone above and beyond to help my son feel welcomed and included in her class. She is a wonderful teacher, who creates a warm and happy learning environment for 22 5-year-olds - no mean feat! My son is in Special Ed and she always works with him to support his needs. Whenever he had an issue, her attitude was “how do we best support your son to get him through this” which is so wonderful for me as a parent. She is caring, she loves all of her students and her work, and she creates a loving and kind learning environment for some of our youngest and most vulnerable minds. She is a rock star! Kristina has been a shining light for us at Grattan. "-Nominated 5/2020

Rebeca Flores, Family Liasion, John O'Connell High School

"Ms. Flores is always on top of keeping parents informed about resources for students and parents. Even before Distance Learning started, she has always found a way to be a part of afterschool activities and help the students flesh out ideas as they relate to extracurricular and community activities. During this hectic time that we face I am so grateful for Ms. Flores's ability to keep families informed and abreast in this ever so changing school year with distance learning. Ms. Flores leaves emails, voice messages, facilitates Zoom meetings, and other conferencing which is greatly appreciated so that all is not lost educationally while some stay at home.  She has done a great job in meeting the moment! We can tell Ms. Flores loves what she does and the students love her. "-Nominated 5/2020

Natalie Kojima, Teacher, Ulloa Elementary School

"My son has a severe food allergy that prevents him from eating cakes, cupcakes, and other goodies during students’ birthday parties. One day, I received an email from Ms. Kojima asking what my son could eat or like to eat so that she could get it for him since he was always left out. This really warmed my heart to know that his thoughtful teacher is also concerned about the students’ well-being in addition to their academic achievements. She makes sure that every student is learning, happy, and healthy. Ms. Kojima is one of the best teachers I have ever encountered. Not only does she care about the students’ learning, but she also takes time to know and care about their well-being. We need to have more teachers like her."-Nominated 5/2020

Tania Padilla-Brainin, Teacher, Abraham Lincoln High School

"Ms. Padilla has been an extraordinary teacher for our daughter. Her encouragement and positive feedback have been a huge factor in our daughter's success. She is proactive, checking in, offering extra help, and reaching out to us to let us. Ms. Padilla took time at the end of last semester to write to my husband and me a very personal note about our daughter's work, and her progress through the semester. I recognize that teachers have a huge load and often spend much of their own time and money to just stay up to date with the minimum of what is required of them. For Ms. Padilla to take the time to reach out to us made such a huge impression on us, it was a gift that we didn't realize we needed so much until we got it. It has been a rough couple of years, and the personal touch of hearing from a teacher that was so encouraging and supportive of our daughter was really wonderful."-Nominated 5/2020

Early Education School Team (Denise Fong, Nop MacInnis, CamilleFormentos, Rhonda Jefferson, Barbara Gallios, Mabel Young, Emily McGrew, Judith Dito, Bridget Lind, and Martha Schendorf-Klinger, Presidio Early Education School

"The EES teaching team jumped in head first into learning and using Google Classroom to share the curriculum with the students and families. Everyone is dedicated to making the best of this situation. Even some of the paraprofessionals have stepped up and contributed to the learning experience for the children. They have shown great adaptability, perseverance, and dedication to delivering the best curriculum possible despite the current challenges. This team makes me so proud of them every day. I am so lucky to have such a dedicated team of teachers. The families are also very lucky to have such a wonderful teacher "-Nominated 5/2020

Amy Chan and Mike Powell, Leak Detection Team, Sustainability & Buildings and Grounds

"The Leak Detection Team is a joint effort of B&G and the Sustainability Office to address $350k in yearly water leaks that have plagued the district over the years. The team is the best of both worlds: thoughtful analysis and a hands-on, roll-up-your-sleeves determination. Amy Chan methodically and consistently analyses utility bills and usage information to identify the needles in a haystack that are costing us a lot of money. Mike Powell and his team of plumbers go the extra mile to track down leaks and propose solutions for shutting them down. It is this spirit of collaboration that makes the team so effective. Thanks to the efforts of this team, an $85k/yr leak at McAteer and a $75k/yr leak at SF Public Montessori were recently fixed. Both sites saw their water use drop by two-thirds!" -Nominated 4/2020

Daniela Funes, Family Liaison, Thurgood Marshall Academic High School

"Daniela serves as our Student Advocate and Family Liaison, and she is literally the glue that holds our school together. In her role, Daniela is a go-to person for our students, our families, and our staff. The pandemic has amplified the qualities we already appreciate in Daniela. She is on the phone for hours every day talking students through how to use Zoom, or even just how to use a computer. She has joined every single teacher’s google classroom (that’s over 100 classes) so that she can know what students are experiencing when she is helping them over the phone. While our school has plenty of fantastic counseling and wellness staff, Daniela remains the north star for many of our newcomer students. Daniela Funes brings her compassion, commitment, and charm to work every day, which makes her indispensable to the Thurgood Marshall community."-Nominated 4/2020

Cobb Custodial Team (Quinn Zheng & Wei Lim), William Cobb Elementary School

"During this tough time, the two of them remain positive and working diligently to clean, sanitize, and put in order for our school for staff and students. Both gentlemen are always smiling and talkative. They are so willing to assist you, beyond their duties. They are responsive and reliable. They are a great part of our team. Today I forgot my keys, Quinn stopped what he was busy with to unlock doors for me, carry supplies for me, etc.  And Mr. Lim, who usually works third floor, responded promptly when he was sent to make a trash run one day when Quinn was not available. Both of them are always so willing."-Nominated 4/2020

Longfellow's Walking School Bus Team (Jason Serafino-Agar, Helen Serafino-Agaar, Mrs. Aleman, & Mr. Lee), Longfellow Elementary School

"Over 10 years ago Longfellow started the first "Walking School Bus" in San Francisco, they called it 'Walk 2 Win Wednesdays! Fast forward 10 years later and thanks to the team at Longfellow the "Walking School Bus" is just as strong, if not stronger then it was when it first started. It's more than just walking to school, it's doing your part to help improve the environment, better health, and community building.  Mrs. Aleman, Mr. Lee, and Ms. Helen are Walk & Roll Heroes who give their support to Parent Super Star Jason and his walking team! Kids learn early on the importance of making sustainable choices from what the eat to how they get to school and these same kids encourage their parents to make sustainable choices as well."-Nominated 4/2020

Veronica Castaneda, Custodian, Lawton Alternative School

"Veronica always goes the extra mile. She is kind to students. She helps kindergartners open their lunches and helps all students sort their trash at the end of lunch. Her work is impeccable. If she has been in a room, that room is clean. Teachers are always satisfied and appreciative of her day to day reliability. She advises the principal whenever she sees a problem so that small issues don't later become big issues. She does not need micro-managing. She sees what needs to be done, and she takes care of it. She is reliable, positive, has the highest quality of work, conscientious, frugal, ethical, and hard-working."-Nominated 4/2020

Danielle Anderson, Teacher, Francisco Middle School

"Danielle Anderson is a true treasure for Francisco MS staff, students, and families. She goes above and beyond in organizing and helping everyone. During this time full of change and uncertainty, she was able to put together a Go Fund Me Page for our school and our community was able to raise over $26,940 to provide gift cards to grocery stores as a support to our families. Every year she organizes multiple events at Francisco such as the Christmas Party for about 60 of our most needed students, she personally goes and shops for each one of them.  Danielle is an amazing and dedicated teacher who deeply cares for all our students, families, and staff."-Nominated 4/2020

Erminia Benitez, Cafeteria Worker, McAteer Culinary Center

"Mina is such a friendly, positive force at our school! Despite the madness of providing two schools (1,100 kids and teachers too!) full-service hot lunch for nearly two hours straight, she never is without a smile. She greets all of our children, makes sure they are well fed and taken care of. We are so proud to have Mina! Mina knows kids by name and checks in with them as they pass through the lunch line. She makes our students happy, and she takes pride in the fact that she feeds then great food every day. Erminia is someone I look forward to seeing every day, and I know she gives 110% on a daily basis.."-Nominated 3/2020

Laura Palacio, Teacher, Lakeshore Elementary School

"Laura is an exceptional educator. I’ve been a special education teacher in various environments for nearly 20 years and I can easily say that Laura is one of the best. She demonstrates phenomenal content knowledge, endless care, and empathy, strategic and purposeful teaching strategies, endless willingness to collaborate and support struggling teachers, and the list simply goes on. Kind, hard-working, intensely supportive of all students, special connections with at-risk students and at-risk families, a creative, joyful, master at behavior management without sacrificing fun and joyful learning."-Nominated 2/2020

Kait Bowles, Social Worker, Clarendon Elementary School

"We are fortunate to have such a thoughtful, hard-working leader helping us to build a supportive, thriving community. Since she has come to Clarendon, in addition to ensuring that all 500+ students have the resources they need in order to best learn and thrive -- as students and as human beings -- Kait has led a significant, unifying, schoolwide shift in culture using Social Emotional Learning. SEL is now integrated into nearly every facet of school life, and because of her work -- and gathering the support of others to ensure integration -- we are a stronger, better school. Kait has endless energy and is extremely student-centered. Her work keeps the needs of students at the core. She tirelessly spends her day working with students in social groups, 1:1 sessions, meeting with families, teachers, and the administration.  "-Nominated 2/2020

Mark Sweeny, Teacher, George Moscone Elementary School

"Mark created Family Math Day - where students participate in experiential games and crafts targeting common core standards.  This exemplifies his dedication and desire to promote math as a fun, positive activity that is inclusive of the whole school community.  Mark is so talented at inspiring students to do their absolute best, and he makes it fun for them. He is always kind, professional, energetic, intelligent, and equitable.  He is truly service-oriented, cares about the kids first and foremost, and is so culturally sensitive to individual kid's and family's needs. He has a heart of gold, and truly cares about his school community, and does an exceptional job of looking at the whole child, and getting them to where they need to be academically."-Nominated 2/2020

Carpentry Team (Richard Gallagher and Brendan Maloney), Buildings & Ground Carpenter Shop

"Richard and Brendan helped me design and build our classroom's Maker Space. They have been working with me consistently on all the steps since the beginning. We worked with a budget and had to be very mindful of how to transform our classroom into a beautiful space to support STEAM & Project-Based Learning through hands-on and interactive activities. Brendan and Richard's skills were very valuable in terms of planning and implementing all the solutions. They are a great team and full of creative ideas. Most important their problem-solving skills in terms of finding solutions on how to make various workstations and use all the available resources are great. In addition, they possess an open mind as well as a genuine passion for the work."-Nominated 2/2020

Michelle Low, Teacher, Robert Louis Stevenson Elementary School

"Ms. Low gives generously of her time on a daily basis.  She is both a classroom teacher and a community leader and exemplifies the values of being student-centered, fearless and persistent, and uniting our community by building on strengths. Ms. Low helps with our morning announcements regularly and updates our parent community. She helps create schedules and is constantly doing things to support our whole school in addition to her regular classroom duties. She gives willingly and cheerfully of her time while still be a very thorough and caring teacher."-Nominated 2/2020

Nancy Bui, Principal, Rooftop Elementary School

"Nancy is is incredibly well-rounded and knowledgeable in all areas related to education.  She is skillful and effective in all areas of instructional leadership and management.  Ms. Bui manages buildings and grounds, deals with day-to-day operations, supports students through conflicts that arise, counsels teachers and students, provides feedback to support teachers in moving their practice forward, and that is just a small portion of what she does on a daily basis.  Ms. Bui is incredibly kind and has a strong sense of humor that helps all community members in the midst of stress. She is able to come up with creative solutions when problems arise. "-Nominated 2/2020

EK Keith, Librarian, Phillip and Sala Burton High School

"E.K. exemplifies what it means to be a teacher-librarian. Since she arrived she has been working with classroom teachers in order to help deliver the student-centered learning that every student she be exposed to. She has helped students write grants for projects, helped and encouraged students to create winning books for the Ezra Jack Keats Bookmaking Project, facilitate several student-clubs and much more. She is a strong communicator but always respectful not only to staff but especially to the students. Her support in her many collaborations helps to distinguish not only her work but every one that is impacted by these projects. "-Nominated 2/2020

Kim Gilmore, Principal, Jefferson Elementary School

"Dr. Gilmore supports exceptional needs students by advocating for appropriate staffing, purchasing intervention materials, and directly supporting students with social-emotional needs. Due to her post-graduate degree, she is knowledgeable in inclusive practices and education law. She knows ALL students by name, frequently checks in with SPED staff to check-in regarding student needs, and is respectful of our work expectations, encourages and supports our staff to pursue additional training and professional developments. Dr. Gilmore is always open to collaborating with staff and being responsive to staff suggestions on improving student learning."-Nominated 2/2020

Yasmir Navas, Special Education Teacher, Sanchez Elementary School

"Yasmir views every opportunity and challenge through the lens of student need. With the lens of a SpEd educator, she advocates in all settings (classrooms, staff meetings, assemblies, field trips) for accessibility and inclusion for ALL students.  Yasmir views every student in the school as her own student.  She opens her doors to students who need a break or a snack- students prefer her classroom because it is so warm, so friendly, so multi-sensory and so relationship-driven. Yasmir's tireless push for inclusion of her students in General Education settings both academically and socially makes Sanchez overall a better and more community-oriented place to be "-Nominated 1/2020

Joan Cai, Dining Staff, Junipero Serra Elementary School

"Joan goes above and beyond her responsibilities to make sure students at Junipero Serra are fed.  You can tell by her dedication and interactions with students, that they come first, always.  She knows all the students, she encourages them to grab breakfast and try entrees that are new, she is always thinking about how the experience is for the students, and she always has a smile on her face. A lot of students ask Joan how her day is and thank her for her help. Joan is very humble and always gives credit to the Junipero Serra team.  "-Nominated 1/2020

Lance Tagomori, Assistant Principal, Abraham Lincoln High School

"Lance is there for everyone, at any time. The school could not run without him. He helps the teachers, the students, the other administrators, and is the best administrator I have ever encountered in my 20 plus years of teaching. He is skillful and effective: he manages building and grounds, dealing with day to day operations and troubleshooting all kinds of problems, helps out with Master Schedule, assists with behavior problems, counsels teachers and students, and that is just the tip of the iceberg of the myriad things he does day in and day out. He understands teacher craft and is empathic about our challenges. Lance is kind, generous, patient, has a sense of humor in the face of stress, helps everyone all the time, and greets everyone with a smile"-Nominated six times 1/2020

Suzann Baldwin, Spanish Teacher, Abraham Lincoln High School

"Suzann is passionate and enthusiastic about the subject that she teaches. The manner in which she guides, redirects and delivers instruction is done in a way that ushers not-so-confident learners into being confident learners and developing strong learners into self-propellers of learning.  Suzann is in tune with her students' levels of proficiency and encourages them to challenge themselves. She maintains a highly professional approach for colleagues and families and maintains a nurturing approach to ease students who speak with her. Suzann is a longstanding teacher of the Spanish language, who is grossly due recognition, thanks, and acknowledgment."-Nominated six times 1/2020

Blanca Gonzalez, Bilingual Community Relations Specialist/Student Advisor, Mission High School

"Blanca is highly skilled in connecting and building trusting relationships with all the community members within and outside of SFUSD. She is passionate and determined to lift and inspire the MEP families during difficult times and is a resourceful and knowledgeable ally. Her dedication has been demonstrated time and time again throughout her 22 years of service to families. Blanca has remained strong, stable and is a model of hope and perseverance within the community and for her colleagues. She culturally and linguistically represents the MEP community that she serves. Blanca possesses unwavering strength, heart, and courage in supporting the most vulnerable families and situations in the city."-Nominated 1/2020

Sally Li, Custodian, Raoul Wallenberg High School

"Ms. Sally is a fantastic custodian and member of the Wallenberg team.  She works incredibly hard, and is reliable and dedicated to making our school and clean and welcoming space for all. She is hard-working, responsible, reliable, friendly and kind. Sally takes her work seriously and always strives to keep the school clean.  She goes out of her way to make sure the school environment is physically welcoming and when she sees something that needs to be addressed she takes the initiative and makes sure it is clean."-Nominated 1/2020