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

June 2019 – Diane Walsh, 2nd Grade

Mrs. Walsh has always had a passion for teaching. As a young teen, she created and taught at her own neighborhood  “Play-school “. When her two daughters attended Brook Knoll Elementary, she volunteered weekly in their classrooms, was an active member in the PTA and taught part-time at Rainbow Montessori.  In 1995, she was thrilled and proud to land her dream job at Brook Knoll teaching first grade. After 24 fulfilling years, Mrs. Walsh recently retired. However, she will never stop teaching because she has five built-in students for life…..her delightful grandchildren.

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

July 2019 – John Magliato, English

I was born in Trenton, New Jersey but moved at least nine times in my youth.  My grandparents immigrated from Sicily, but sadly, I do not speak Italian.  I’ve been teaching at Scotts Valley Unified School District for 29 years. I started at Vine Hill as a fourth grade teacher.  After three years, I moved to the middle school and have taught all grade levels here, but mostly eighth grade English, which I love.  My wife, Melissa, is a successful teacher at San Lorenzo Valley Middle School, and my daughters Alicia (21) and Sophia (19) are successful college students.  Besides my family, bike riding is my passion, and I have been enjoying the sport seriously since I was fourteen.  I’ve ridden from Canada to California twice and participated in all of the SVEF century rides when that was a fundraiser here.   A dream of mine would be to visit France and ride some of the mountainous routes of the Tour de France.  Students may know that I am obsessed with Ray Bradbury, especially his novel Fahrenheit 451.  It has been an honor to share it with so many students throughout the years, and I hope that its message continually resonates with all of those who read it.

Click here for past SVMS Award recipients.

Scotts Valley High School

bee's kneesMay, 2019 – Claire Spitzer, Chemistry

Mrs. Claire Spitzer has been teaching chemistry at Scotts Valley High School since 2012.  Prior to SVHS, she was home with her three children for 10 years and also taught in Palo Alto & Menlo Park.  She started her career as a probation officer in San Jose and also worked for Intel and the Tech Museum of Innovation.

Mrs. Spitzer loves teaching chemistry in the community where she lives, teaching students she has known since they started elementary school and always bumping into students and their families in town.  She loves teaching at SVHS, and describes her students as enthusiastic and hard working. Mrs. Spitzer tries to make the sometimes complex subject of chemistry accessible to everyone while also challenging them. She does lots of experiments and demonstrations, even making fudge from a chemistry recipe, an all time favorite!

Outside of class, Mrs. Spitzer loves spending time with her family, and loves to travel, anywhere and anytime. On the books this years are a cruise to Alaska with her daughter and mother-in-law, a service learning trip to Tanzania with a group of awesome high school students, an adventure to Morocco with her son, and family reunions in England and Australia. Although she is not a fan of the cold, Mrs. Spitzer has the Antarctic on her bucket list, the only continent yet to visit.

Click here for past SVHS Award recipients