CONTRA COSTA COUNTY, CA (Oct. 19, 2023) — Joseph Alvarico of Ygnacio Valley High School was named this week as a California Teacher of the Year by State Superintendent of Schools Tony Thurmond after earlier being named as the 2023-24 Contra Costa County Teacher of the Year along with Annalouisa Gonzalez-Ortega of Freedom High School in Oakley.
“I am proud that one of our Contra Costa County teachers of the year has been named one of the state’s top educators,” Contra Costa County Superintendent of Schools Lynn Mackey said.
“Joseph is a great example of the high-quality teaching and learning going on in Contra Costa County schools every day and it’s a great honor for him to be selected as a California Teacher of the Year. Congratulations to him, his colleagues and MDUSD for the support they have given him throughout this process and his career.”
Alvarico is the only Northern California teacher to receive this distinguished honor this year as the other four teachers reside in Los Angeles and Santa Barbara counties.
“I am both thrilled and humbled at the same time to have been selected as one of the 2024 California Teachers of the Year. This distinction is a reflection of the long hours and unwavering commitment that I have put into my teaching career,” Alvarico said.
“My gratitude extends to multiple people in my life who have guided me along my professional path and supported my classroom every step of the way. Maraming salamat sa inyong lahat! Without you, I wouldn’t be able to give my students the greatest service that I possibly could. I am excited to continue making a positive impact on the lives of my students, our local community, and the educational world at large.”
County honor came first
The county TOY announcement was made last month during the county’s 51st annual Teacher of the Year Celebration at the Lesher Center for the Arts in Walnut Creek. The pair are now entered in the California State Teachers of the Year program.
A total of 21 Contra Costa Teachers representing 16 school districts were honored at the recent celebration. Alvarico and Gonzalez-Ortega were selected as winners from four finalists that were announced in the spring. The other two finalists were Danya Townsend, formerly of Olympic High in Concord and now vice principal at Riverview Middle School, and Patricia Ogura of Hercules Middle and High Schools.
Alvarico is the second Mt. Diablo Unified School District honoree in a row after Mt. Diablo High English teacher Nathasha Paul was similarly awarded for 2022-23.
“Congratulations to the County’s 2023-24 Teachers of the Year,” Superintendent Mackey said. “Joseph Alvarico and Annalouisa Gonzalez-Ortega exemplify all the extraordinary public-school teachers in our county. Next stop is the state’s Teacher of the Year program, and I am delighted to root for these two educators as the California Department of Education decides California’s Teacher of the Year.
She added, “All of our teachers deserve to be recognized for being excellent educators. We appreciate them for investing and believing in the children they teach; these relationships help shape consistency, confidence, academic achievements, and lifelong goals in scholars throughout our county.”
Alvarico has a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology and a Bachelor of Secondary Education degree. Prior to immigrating to the United States from the Philippines, he started the process of attaining master’s degrees in both Business Administration and Biology.
He has received many awards and accolades over the years; however, it is the impact he leaves on students that matters most to him.
“Seeing my students work toward and achieve their dreams is the biggest reward I get from teaching,” Alvarico said. “The icing on the cake is for my students to return as professionals and give back to this community I serve.”
Principal lauds Alvarico
Ygnacio Valley High Principal Jonathan Pike says, “We are thrilled that Joseph has been recognized for his dedication and impact for our school, students and community at multiple schools. He is truly deserving of this award, and we believe he is only one of many teachers at our school that believes in our students and opens doors of opportunity for them to achieve their goals.”
Alvarico was born into a family of educators but did not set out on a path to become a teacher until receiving a full-ride college scholarship in his native Philippines. The scholarship required him to work as a teacher for at least one year.
With a short-term commitment in mind, he became a teacher intern in the 1990s and has been “hooked” on teaching ever since. After immigrating to the United States, Alvarico has spent multiple years instructing middle school and high school students in the MDUSD.
Read about his engineering program at Ygnacio Valley High
With his on-the-job experience in the tech industry, he weaves real world experiences into his lessons. Teaching teenagers, being a lifelong learner, and building a community with his students is the secret sauce that has turned his robotics and yearbook students into design and engineering professionals. While helping underserved students for the past 23 years, Alvarico strives to show them their potential and the possibilities available when they leave high school