OUSD Adult Education Teacher Named Toyota Teacher of the Year in Surprise Visit
Oakland, CA -- On Wednesday, August 22, Beth Detwiler was at Coliseum College Prep Academy teaching her normal morning family literacy class to a group of adult students when suddenly, her day was turned on its head. First, in walked OUSD Superintendent Kyla Johnson-Trammell followed by a video crew. Minutes later, Johnson-Trammell introduced a visitor with a big surprise.
Family literacy teacher Beth Detwiler the moment she learned she is Teacher of the Year and that she won a $20,000 grant for her program.
Josh Cramer, Vice President for the National Center for Families Learning, walked in carrying a giant check. “It’s truly an honor to be here with you,” he said to the class. “As Beth’s students you already know you have the best teacher in the whole world. But according to the National Center for Families Learning and Toyota, she actually is the family Teacher of the Year. And for that, you all will receive $20,000 to improve your programs and continue to have Beth do her wonderful job.”
And the surprises kept coming. Trailing behind Cramer were Detwiler’s parents and two children, Sophia and James, both of whom are OUSD students. Detwiler’s husband joined the party via Facetime as he is overseas.
Detwiler was overcome by the surprise, and teared up at the announcement and seeing her family. But she immediately deflected the attention. “All of you, Ladies, who come everyday, and come to this class, I know you have a million other things to do as parents, and yet, you’re here,” she said to her students, before getting distracted. “Hi! These are my kids,” she said about Sophia and James who walked up and gave her a hug.
Beth Detwiler with her parents, children and husband (via Facetime).
The students seemed just as happy as Detwiler was with this turn of events. They all wanted to pose for photos with her and the check. “I’m completely overwhelmed. I was not expecting this. And it’s still settling in… Teacher of the Year,” Detwiler exclaimed. “This class is amazing. I’ve been here three years, maybe a little longer, and every day is such a joy to be here.”
Beth Detwiler with her students.
“We are celebrating one of our phenomenal teachers, Beth Detwiler, and her innovation and creativity that she brings to family literacy,” said Superintendent Johnson-Trammell. “In Oakland, our mission as a full service community school district is to serve the whole child. And what that means is that to serve the whole child, we’re meeting the needs of students and their families. Our family literacy program is a critical component that ensures parents are better able to help their students excel in the classroom with more effective instruction at home.”
The $20,000 grant will come in handy for Detwiler and the family literacy program, although she and her colleagues have yet to decide exactly how they will use it. “One of the projects I really want to incorporate in this class is technology and getting my students to feel really comfortable around it, and to become producers of content and not just consumers of technology,” she said.
Detwiler’s daughter, Sophia, who is in the sixth grade, said about the award, “I think it’s great.” She added that the way her mother is in the classroom is similar to the way she teaches at home. “She brings a lot of enthusiasm.”
Watch video of Beth Detwiler receiving the Toyota National Center for Families Learning Teacher of the Year Award and a $20,000 grant for her program.
The whole Detwiler family was in on the surprise, as was much of the District and the school. Beth Detwiler had no idea it was coming. “I am so impressed. They totally kept the secret and didn’t cave under pressure,” she said, especially about Sophia who said that morning at home that she forgot to put something in her backpack. When her mother asked what she forgot, Sophia said “nothing.” Detwiler cross-examined her but never got out of Sophia that it was a note from her father to get her out of school that day. “It turns out the secret she was keeping was this,” Detwiler said with a proud smile.
Detwiler was already scheduled to speak at the National Center for Families Learning Conference in Florida next month, and Josh Cramer says that her session will certainly be a hot ticket now that she’s won this award.
OUSD congratulates Beth Detwiler from Oakland Adult and Career Education at Coliseum College Prep Academy for being the 2018 Toyota National Center for Families Learning Teacher of the Year!