CONCORD, CA (Oct. 18, 2022) — Concord teacher Natasha Paul now reigns as one of two Contra Costa County Teachers of the Year during this 2022-23 school year after she was honored along with Chavonta Edington from the San Ramon Valley Unified School District last month during the County’s 50th annual Teacher of the Year Gala at the Lesher Center in Walnut Creek.
The two county honorees were included in the California State Teachers of the Year program. “Congratulations to Contra Costa County’s newest Teachers of the Year,” County Superintendent of Schools Lynn Mackey said. “Chavonta Edington and Natasha Paul represent all teaching professionals in the county.
“All of the honored educators deserve our thanks. We appreciate them for their hard work but also for the guidance and relationships they have forged with students, giving them inspiration for college and careers in the future as well as the confidence to take on academic challenges they will face throughout their educational journeys.”
Paul is a 19-year teaching veteran, spending 16 of those years at Mt. Diablo starting in the fall of 2003. From 2017-2020 Paul worked for the Mount Diablo Unified School District as an instructional mentor for teachers with provisional credentials starting their careers in MDUSD middle and high schools. Although she enjoyed the position it was eliminated when the district made cutbacks in 2020 so she returned to Mt. Diablo for the past two years.
While in her mentoring position that took her to various District middle and high school sites, she was impressed with the leadership at Concord High of principal Rianne Pfaltzgraff, which prompted Paul to put in a transfer request to Concord. That transfer came through in May and a month later Pfaltzgraff announced she was taking an administrative position in Oakley closer to her East County home.
So now Paul is working for new Concord High principal Julene MacKinnon. “I’ve never been anywhere but Mount, so this is a really awesome new experience,” Paul says. She graduated from Mt. Diablo in 1991 and went to Diablo Valley College and Cal Poly SLO before getting her teaching credential through Saint Mary’s College.
She is a member of the National Council of Teachers, California Teachers Association, California Association of Teachers of English and a Board Member of a Curriculum Study Commission where she helps plan and implement an annual conference for English and ELD teachers.
Paul is currently taking courses through Cal State East Bay to earn a Preliminary Administrative Services Credential. Her other educational passion is championing equality grading practices which she implemented with colleagues at Mt. Diablo.
Taking on leadership roles in staff development, Paul has served as a WASC Committee Co-Chair, Planning committee member of an Immigration Resources Fair, 9th grade English Lead Teacher, ACME Academy Co-Lead Teacher and in 2022 was part of the Equitable Grading PLC at Mt. Diablo. Additionally, she has served as Participating Teacher for Student Teachers affiliated with several local universities and has contributed to numerous professional development conferences and workshops over the course of her career.
Paul recently received the Certificate of Mastery from the 2021-2022 Modern Classrooms Project Mentorship Program.
“My greatest pride has been working with the career academies at Mt. Diablo,” Paul said. “The first 14 years of my career I worked with an incredible, innovative group of teachers in the Digital Safari Academy there. Together, we built the program from a two-year, 11th and 12th grade multi-media curriculum focused on project-based learning, to a four-year, 9th-12th dual pathway program, incorporating multimedia, computer science, art, English and social studies.”
“Natasha has developed as a leader who models innovative teaching strategies through reflection and dedication to improving students’ well-being and overall learning outcomes,” MDUSD Instructional Coach Jeanne M. Johnson said. “She exhibits strength in vulnerability when challenged, which is a great model for our students. Natasha works very hard to create a balance between challenging her students and making them feel safe and cared for.”
Paul attended Monte Gardens Elementary and Glenbrook Middle School growing up before going to Mt. Diablo. Her two daughters attend MDUSD schools.
Edington and Paul were selected as winners from four county finalists. The other two finalists were Serina Culleton of Donald Rheem Elementary in Moraga School District and Paula Rathert of Murwood Elementary in Walnut Creek School District.
The finalists were chosen from the 19 district teachers of the year who represented 16 school districts, the county office and community college district. Among those 19 finalists was another Mt. Diablo High teacher and 2007 graduate Katalina Gallo, who was taught by Paul in the Digital Safari Academy.
Jay Bedecarré is a long-time resident and writer in Concord and Clayton. He began his newspaper writing career while still a senior at Mt. Diablo High School and he has been part of The Pioneer since its inception in 2003. Jay also operates Bay Area Festivals, presenting events around the San Francisco Bay Area including Bay Area KidFest annually in Downtown Concord.