The Bee's Knees Teacher Awards

Recognizing Scotts Valley's Most Influential Educators

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.  Once a month 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

February 2019 – Kathy Petersen, 1st Grade

Kathy Petersen loves teaching in the community that both educated her, and sparked her desire to become a teacher.  After earning her B.S. in Human Resources from San Francisco State, she entered into the corporate world as a technical recruiter.  Understanding her passion was in the classroom, she quickly moved to become an educator.  For the last 20 years, Kathy has excelled as a teacher in the Watsonville, Santa Cruz and most recently, Scotts Valley school districts.  At the start of her teaching career she immersed herself to understand the nuances of how to teach non-English speaking students to read and write.  She is passionate about bringing problem-based science into the classroom, and has independently attended courses at the Monterey Bay Aquarium during the Summer to advance her knowledge. She has developed materials incorporating science standards for 1st and 4th grade students at Brook Knoll Elementary.  Outside of teaching, Kathy adores outdoor adventures, hiking and camping with her two sons.

Click here for past Brook Knoll Award recipients.


Vine Hill Elementary

bee's knees

March 2019 – Laurie Ponos, Kindergarten

Laurie started her teaching career at age 22, right after graduating from Illinois State University with a degree in elementary education.  She has taught all grades K-3 and 5 but has been teaching Kindergarten at Vine Hill for the past 17 years.  This is Laurie’s 30th year teaching!  She strives to be the teacher she would want her own children to have.  Laurie spends a lot of time tailoring instruction to meet the needs of each individual student.  Her goal is to inspire her students to become lifelong learners.  The classroom is her happy place because there is nothing more rewarding than educating our future leaders.

Laurie’s husband of 31 years is Dennis.  She has 2 grown kids who have also attended SV schools.  Her daughter, Michelle, is currently student teaching at Brook Knoll while her son, Trevor, is a student at Cabrillo studying kinesiology.  Laurie enjoys spending time with her family and friends, music, dancing hiking and traveling.

Click here for past Vine Hill Elementary Awards.

Scotts Valley Middle School

April 2019 – Michelle Menchaca, English and History

Ms. Michelle Menchaca has been teaching at Scotts Valley Middle School since 2010.  Before joining the SVMS family, Michelle’s 20-year career began in the Central Valley; Stockton, Manteca, and Ripon, California.  She taught in various settings including self-contained alternative education high school courses, TLC an elementary school for homeless children, and her daughter’s kindergarten class. Ms. Menchaca values the dedicated staff at SVMS and is grateful for the opportunity to work with such a caring, committed group of professionals.

Michelle’s greatest joys are her children, Meliese and Mattie, and their time spent together.  In her personal time, she is continuing her education by earning her Master’s degree in education with a focus on the Education Administration Credential. Additionally, on the weekends when she is not grading papers or doing homework, you can find Michelle on a morning run with her running group, hiking, relaxing on the beach or at a soccer match.

Click here for past SVMS Award recipients.

Scotts Valley High School

May, 2019 – Claire Spitzer, Chemistry

Photo and bio coming soon!

Click here for past SVHS Award recipients