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Teachers of the Year for 2022-2023

Vanessa Olona, Lafayette

Vanessa Olona

Vanessa Olona has been an integral member of the Lafayette Elementary School staff for the past six of her 14 year teaching career. When you enter Vanessa’s classroom, there is always a buzz of activity; her students are incredibly engaged no matter what the activity or subject. Connecting with every student at their own level is one of Vanessa’s many superpowers. Colleagues always admire how articulate Vanessa is whether in the middle of a meeting with a family discussing student challenges or sharing ideas at a staff meeting. Vanessa exudes the qualities of a lifelong learner…. constantly reflecting and integrating new ideas into her teaching craft.

Always the epitome of poise and polish, we are proud to announce Vanessa Olona as the Teacher of the Year at Lafayette Elementary School. 



Cheri Facer, Happy Valley


Cheri Facer

Cheri Facer has many superhero strengths, yet one of her strongest powers is her ability to see her students, colleagues and families for who they are and to be a safe person for them to get what they need. You can often find Cheri connecting with her students on the playground, talking to a colleague in the hallway or recommending a resource to one of her students' parents, current or former. She has a huge heart and puts the emotional and developmental needs of each of her students as a top priority. Cheri is able to make her students feel special and welcome by finding their gifts and celebrating them while also making her classroom a space to try new things and experience challenges academically as well as socially and emotionally in a supportive environment. The same can be said for how Cheri engages with her colleagues. She is uplifting and always provides everyone with a smile and a calm demeanor, which is so important especially as we have navigated the pandemic. Cheri takes the time to get to know all staff members and help them feel seen. We are truly fortunate to have such a thoughtful, compassionate educator serving Happy Valley Elementary, and the greater Lafayette School District community. Cheri Facer has been so generous with her time and energy for many years.  Congratulations, Cheri Facer!


Nancy Newcomb, Springhill

Nancy Newcomb

It is with great pleasure and pride that Springhill has chosen Nancy Newcomb to represent our school as our Teacher of the Year. Nancy has been a teacher at Springhill for 22 years. Her dedication and commitment to her students and colleagues is undeniable but her joy and personal connections are the characteristics that make her our shining star. She makes everyone, students and staff, feel welcome and important. She cares about the well-being of those that cross her path and shows genuine interest in building relationships. She is an exceptional citizen of our school community and models for us all what it takes to be more empathetic, kind and thoughtful each day.

In the classroom, there is a mutual respect that develops each year between herself and her students. She takes time to get to know each of her students. She validates their feelings and appreciates their individuality. She not only listens with an open mind but hears with an open heart. She is especially adept at differentiating her lessons and instructions to empower ALL students to learn. She recognizes their unique strengths and challenges and uses that information to inspire them to take risks. She also instills a sense of inclusion and belonging for all students at Springhill.  She makes sure to always involve our students with special needs to actively participate in special events, activities and class rewards. Each year, her students learn the importance of collaboration and teamwork but also the value of acceptance and kindness. 

Outside of the classroom, Nancy is a true advocate for her colleagues. She has the integrity to speak up for what is right and fair but always does it with such grace and dignity. While Nancy’s devotion to Springhill runs deep and wide, from a more personal perspective she is always eager to share pictures of her granddaughter and stories about her son, Andrew or her husband Jeff. We all benefit from Nancy’s presence on campus but from the words of a colleague who is a big fan… Nancy is one special lady!


Claudia Windfuhr, Stanley Middle

Claudia Windfuhr

Claudia Windfuhr has been at Stanley for over 30 years and in all those years has not lost one ounce of enthusiasm for what she does. Her passion is evident any time you step in her classroom and are greeted by her and her students with a heartfelt “Bonjour!” or “Guten Tag!”  She is a champion for bringing people together to make the world a better place, and has opened the hearts and minds of literally thousands of students.  As a World Language teacher, Claudia has encouraged her students to truly appreciate world culture by giving them vibrant experiences with pen pals, exchange students, movie festivals, and food and music.  Outside of the classroom, you see Claudia’s care and enthusiasm for supporting the community through her work on the International Night, the Hunger Luncheon, and her many environmental efforts.  She is the main reason Stanley began to reuse and recycle paper long before it became a standard practice.  Claudia Windfuhr cares deeply for our students and community and we are all the better for that.


Cathy Bertics, Burton Valley

Cathy Bertics

Cathy Bertics has been a dedicated Burton Valley teacher for nearly 30 years. We have been lucky enough to have her teach children in special day classes, Kindergarten, First Grade and Second Grade. She is always striving to reach the needs of her young learners and ensure everyone feels included. Cathy works tirelessly to create lessons and activities to make learning fun and age-appropriate. She is a life- long learner who seeks out professional development in all areas to stay current on the latest curriculum. Cathy is not only a champion for all students in her classroom, her work with the DEIB committee helps create a culture of kindness and belonging across our school and District community. 

Cathy's love for children and for teaching is on clear display when you enter Room 4. Her classroom is a place where children feel challenged, supported and loved, and adults come to fill their buckets with the joy that Cathy shares.

Congratulations to this very special educator on being awarded Burton Valley’s 2022 Teacher of the Year!