The Bee's Knees Teacher Awards

$250 Donation From Every Sale For Our Teachers

Celebrating Scotts Valley Teachers Who Exhibit “The Height of Excellence” in Teaching

Nominate a Teacher Today Who You Believe is Deserving of The “Bee’s Knees” Designation and $250 for their Classroom!


Scotts Valley CommunitySponsored by Community Real Estate, The “Bee’s Knees” teacher award program recognizes outstanding Scotts Valley teachers.  The saying “The Bee’s Knees” became popular in the United States during the 1920s.  Bees carry pollen back to the hive in sacs on their legs.  It is believed that the origin of the phrase refers to the concentrated goodness that can be found around a bee’s knee.  As we use it today, the phrase “The Bee’s Knees” means “The Height of Excellence”.

We owe an enormous debt of gratitude to the amazing teachers that make Scotts Valley schools the best in the County.  These teachers work tirelessly and often go without the recognition they deserve.  Their efforts improve not just the lives of their students, but of all us.

Please join us in showing our appreciation for these special teachers.  Write to us ( to nominate a teacher that has made a difference in your life, or the life of your children.  Each time a teacher is nominated they will be entered into a drawing to win a donation for their classroom.  At the completion of every sale, Community Real Estate will select one of these teachers at random.  The lucky winner will receive $250 from us and the designation as “The Bee’s Knees” in teaching.  We look forward to hearing from you!

Brook Knoll Elementary

Bee's Knees2017 – Danielle Cruz, 4th Grade

I am proud to consider myself a local girl. I have been a resident of Scotts Valley/Santa Cruz since 1983 and am a product of Scotts Valley schools. I went through Vine Hill Elementary (shout out to Wendy Baron, Marnie Cox and the late Tony LaBue), and then Scotts Valley Jr. High (Mr. Ross is still there<3), before graduating from Harbor High in 1992. I studied at Cabrillo and transferred to SJSU with the intention of becoming a documentary filmmaker or journalist, but instead found my way into teaching. After graduating I decided that I wanted to work with underserved parts of our county, and was happy to find a home at Ann Soldo School in Watsonville. In my 10 years there I worked with CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) to provide additional support to foster children at our site, all the while staying committed to serving the needs of my students and families, many of whom worked in the fields, and for whom English was a second language.

Four years ago, I was thrilled at the chance to be able to come back to my childhood district where I joined the staff of Brook Knoll.  I’m proud to bring a spirit of diversity and multiculturalism to my students, and continue to teach many of the things that I was passionate about in Watsonville, especially Art, hands on Science and Engineering, and Spanish!  I love the sense of giving back to the community in which my educational journey began, and I’m happy to be a Brook Knoll Eagle!

Click here for past Brook Knoll Award recipients.

Vine Hill Elementary

2017 – Peggy Benjamin, 1st Grade

I live in beautiful Boulder Creek near family and friends. My son, Evan is an electrical contractor and his wife Halley is a teacher at San Lorenzo Elementary. (Another Mrs. Benjamin!) My family’s farm, Camp Joy Garden, is a frequent field trip for Vine Hill students and a place I will spend a lot of time when I retire. I love reading, hiking, yoga, travel and foodie experiences.

I will be retiring after this year and am looking forward to traversing the next path that life brings me. With that said, I must say that leaving Vine Hill is a bittersweet feeling. I have loved teaching at Vine Hill. This is my 22nd year at V.H. I taught Kindergarten for 17 years, 2nd for 3 years and 1st for 2 (including this year). 17+3+2=22 correct.

Firstly, the students have shown me love, engagement, kindness, appreciation and challenge. This last year my focus has been intentionally on building champions in my students. I am teaching this by continuing our Mindfulness practice and modeling the importance of empathy, kindness and understanding of others. Love needs us right now.

My colleagues are some of my best friends; those who have moved on and the ones who are currently teaching with me. The value and support I’ve received from my co teachers has been immeasurable. Only a teacher can understand the complexity of educating and the conversations, collaborations and commiserating we share are the BEST!

Click here for past Vine Hill Elementary Awards.

Scotts Valley Middle School

Homes for Sale Scotts Valley caSeptember, 2017 – Sally Ghilarducci, Science

Sally Ghilarducci has been teaching 7th grade science at Scotts Valley Middle School since 2004.  Before SVMS, she taught high school in Wisconsin, Michigan and in Albany, California.  She grew up in Colorado and California and earned a BS in Chemistry from UC Santa Cruz.  She worked as a chemist for a few years before returning to school for a teaching credential.  Sally feels that anyone can be a scientist and that science should be fun.  Science is not about memorizing facts but about asking questions, making observations and creating new ideas.  Her class focuses on hands-on labs and she guides her students each year to complete a science fair project.  She loves teaching at SVMS where the staff is professional, collaborative and fun.  She also appreciates the amazing support of the Scotts Valley community.  Speaking of support, (Measure A!) — she is looking forward to the day when the science department moves into their new building at SVMS!   Sally lives in Santa Cruz with her husband, two teenagers and a dog. In her free time, she enjoys cooking, running and reading.

Click here for past SVMS Award recipients.

Scotts Valley High School

2017 – Julia Root

Mrs. Julia Root started her teaching career seventeen years ago in Southern California. She graduated from UCSB with a B.A. in English and earned her teaching credentials in History and English from Cal State Northridge. She taught at Rio Mesa High School in Oxnard and moved to the Bay Area and taught for eight years at Capuchino High School, another IB High School. She currently resides in Soquel and is the ideal soccer mom, and loves attending movies with her husband. She also plays tennis, runs, and does yoga.

Click here for past SVHS Award recipients