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San Diego Unified Announces Teachers Of The Year

A former nurse, a high school dropout and a second-generation staff member were named today as the San Diego Unified School District's Teachers of the Year.

Elle Vandiver, who teaches biomedical sciences at University City High School; Joey Lepetri, an English, history and video instructor at Marshall Middle School; and Patti Read, who is in third-grade special education at Lindbergh/Schweitzer Elementary School, will be honored at a Board of Education meeting next Tuesday.

Few professionals touch as many lives as teachers do, Superintendent Bill Kowba said.

"This year's Teachers of the Year, selected by a committee of their peers, are an extraordinary group of individuals who exhibit passion for their profession and compassion for their students in their own unique ways,'' Kowba said. "They are representative of the thousands of district teachers who each day inspire and enable students to work hard, strive for their best and ultimately achieve success.''

Vandiver began her career as a registered nurse in Michigan and discovered a passion for teaching after working with high school interns. More than 20 of her students have become nurses, doctors, medical researchers or work in related jobs.

"Taking this real-world knowledge and bringing it to the kids is what I strive for every day," Vandiver said. "Because I have that background, I can open doors."

Lepetri dropped out of high school but said he realized at the age of 19 that he was missing out on his education. He said he uses that experience to reach out to youngsters growing up in difficult circumstances.

Read's father ran a medical therapy center at Lindbergh/Schweitzer Elementary School, where she volunteered when she was growing up -- and now works with children with special needs at the campus.

Runners-up were Garth Hebbler, Rolando Park Elementary School; Steven Santana, Lewis Middle School; and Michael Pedersen, Serra High School.

All six will compete for San Diego County Teacher of the Year.

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