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Walnut valley Unified School District

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Our motto is KIDS FIRST... Every Student, Every Day!   Valley USD is proud to be a National Schools to Watch District with numerous National Blue Ribbon, California Gold Ribbon, and California Distinguished School awards. 

Saluting Our Best!

October 20, 2022

By Kelli Gile, WVUSD Office of Community Resources

WALNUT, CA—Walnut Valley Unified School District honored an outstanding group of “all-star” educators during the 25th annual Salute to Teachers awards on October 19.

The 2021-2022 Teachers of the Year have risen to the challenge during the pandemic bringing care, compassion, love, commitment, and creativity to classrooms.

Congratulations to the following honorees: Frances Baird – Castle Rock Elementary, Jennifer Najera – Chaparral Middle School, Joey Navarra – Collegewood Elementary, Monica Power – C.J. Morris Elementary, Diana Wai – Diamond Bar High School, Shelby Coomber  – Evergreen Elementary, , Lisa Peterson – Maple Hill Elementary, Jessica Cadena – Quail Summit Elementary, Jennifer Sorbara  – Ron Hockwalt Academies, Jennifer Murphy  – South Pointe Middle School, Joshua Henness – Suzanne Middle School, Natalie Lawrence  – Vejar Elementary, Jessica Rubio – Walnut Elementary, Tiffany Redcher – Walnut High School, and Raelene Waddell – Westhoff Elementary.

“Our kids are blessed to be taught by over 700 of the finest teachers in the county,” said Superintendent Dr. Robert Taylor.

And, today we get to recognize 15 that stand out as the best of the best!”

“We are so proud of you and thankful for what you do!”

Second grade teacher Raelene Waddell from Westhoff Elementary was announced as the 2022 District Teacher of the Year at the culmination of the awards ceremony.

She has also been distinguished as a semifinalist in the Los Angeles County Teacher of the Year competition.

"Teachers make a difference not only for the day, or the year, but often for a lifetime," Waddell said during the program.

The 38-year veteran educator shared that she decided to become a teacher during elementary school.

“I wanted to make a difference for my students like my third-grade teacher Mrs. O’Dell made in mine.”

“And I believe that I have done that for many years now.”

Waddell congratulated fellow Teachers of the Year saying that they inspire her to “strive to be better.”

“I don’t know how many of you will get to 38 years, but know that you make a difference, and that you are someone’s Mrs. O’Dell!”

Deputy Superintendent of Educational Services Dr. Matt Witmer and Assistant Superintendent of Human Resources Dr. Diane Perez hosted the event held at the Walnut High School Performing Arts Center.  

Entertainment was provided by the Walnut High Chamber Singers under the direction of Lisa Lopez.

The honorees received rolling carts filled with generous donations from community supporters.

Each Teacher of the Year received an engraved apple award courtesy of the Walnut Valley Educational Foundation.

A special thanks to the following Salute to Teachers sponsors: Massage Envy Diamond Bar, DC Architects, Schools First Federal Credit Union, McGriff Insurance, Complete Business Solutions, Walnut Valley Administrator’s Association, In-N-Out Burger, Yogurtland, and School Portraits by Adams Photography.

In addition, the 15 Teachers of the Year received certificates of recognition from Los Angeles County Supervisor Hilda Solis, U.S. Representative Young Kim, Senator Josh Newman, Assemblyman Phillip Chen, City of Diamond Bar, and City of Walnut.


Honoring Our Best! Walnut Valley USD celebrates the 2021-2022 Teachers of the Year during the Salute to Teachers awards on October 19. 

Top Teacher! Raelene Waddell from Westhoff Elementary was announced as the 2022 District Teacher of the Year during the 25th Annual Salute to Teachers awards.