Indio teacher named California Teacher of the Year
Kristen Hwang, The Desert Sun 8:02 a.m. PDT October 27, 2015
Cherland, a kindergarten teacher at the Indio school, is one of five educators selected by the California Department of Education to represent the state as the 2016 California Teachers of the Year. Cherland, along with the other four teachers, will be recognized by state Superintendent Tom Torlakson during a ceremony in February and will move on to compete for National Teacher of the Year.
“The teachers we are honoring today are dedicated, energetic, innovative and very effective,” Torlakson said in a press release. “Every day in the classroom they inspire students to learn, excel and realize their full potential. Their work provides a great example for other teachers.”
Cherland, who was nominated as Riverside County Teacher of the Year over the summer, has been teaching for 14 years. She has spent the past 10 years at Carrillo Ranch Elementary, and is also a decorated Army veteran.
Cherland served three tours of active military duty in Iraq and Afghanistan, teaching in between. She retired recently as a Captain in the Army Reserves after 24 years of honorable duty.
"Michelle Cherland’s exemplary teaching performance, her outstanding regional reputation, her service service to our country, and her commitment to meet the needs of each and every student allows me to assure you that she will be an outstanding ambassador as California Teacher of the Year," said Desert Sands Superintendent Gary Rutherford in a statement from the district.
Cherland, who was awarded a Bronze Star in 2010, wrote in her application, "It is an honest blessing and my greatest accomplishment to be able to plant the seed of the future and watch them blossom into upstanding citizens in the country that I have the honor to fight for."
In a June interview after receiving the Riverside County nomination, Cherland said the military values she has learned transfer to her classroom.
"All of the values you have in the military — loyalty, duty, selfless service — it's the same when you're a teacher," she said. "You take care of each other, and that's what I want for my kids, for them to care for each other."
Kristen Hwang is the education reporter for The Desert Sun. Reach her at email@example.com or 760-668-2910.
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