The Bee's Knees Teacher Awards

$250 Donation From Every Sale For Our Teachers


September 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.

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June 2017 – Renae Fish, Science

Renae Fish grew up in the Central Valley working on the family’s vineyard and farm.  This gave her an  early interest in plants and animals (although her father never did get her a pony because “it doesn’t give milk and it doesn’t lay eggs”).  It was, however, a dedicated high school science teacher that cemented in her the wonder of science.  She followed that love to Fresno State getting a B.S. in Biology then on to UC Davis to complete an M.A. in Zoology.  It was working as a TA in the Zoology labs where she discovered how fun teaching was.  Her goal since has been to spread her love of science and hope that her impact is as potent as her high school science teacher.

Renae began her teaching career in Cupertino and switched to Scotts Valley when the commute took too much time away from her young family.  That was 19 years ago!  Renae’s science classes are filled with experiments, labs, and hands on activities – learning is rarely from a book.  Renae doesn’t confine her teaching to the classroom.  She started and coordinates the 6th grade Yosemite science trip each year along with field trips to the Monterey Bay Aquarium and Elkhorn Slough.  She wants students to realize science is all around them and the choices they make today are going to affect their future.

When not working, Renae enjoys going on dates with her husband, hanging out with her college age children, hiking, gardening, baking, and walking her dog Rue.

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May 2017 – Sumita Jaggar, Math

Sumita Jaggar has been teaching 8th grade math and science at Scotts Valley Middle School since 2011.  Before that, she taught for ten years in Watsonville.  She was raised in the midwest and slowly made her way across the country, settling in Santa Cruz to earn first an M.S. in Physics and then a M.A. in Education from UCSC.  She has a passion for seeing the connections both across and within disciplines.  She laughs when she says her teaching philosophy can be summed up as “Never work harder than your students.”  But, she means that questions and discussions in math and science should encourage students to grapple with big ideas and concepts.  True learning happens when students do the thinking rather than being provided answers to memorize.  She believes her job is to create opportunities for students to think deeply and then express their thinking coherently.  She loves teaching in Scotts Valley where the community, administration and coworkers come together to support the education of all students – both high achievers and students with academic challenges.  She is especially grateful for the freedom she feels to try new ideas with students and for working within the Academy system, which allows her the time to get to know each student.

She lives in Santa Cruz with her husband Tim, two school-aged daughters and a couple of cats. In her free time (what’s that?), she enjoys gardening, hiking and Islamic tiling.