Above, from left, Michele Bethune, Daniel Buccieri, Scott Schmerelson and Kirsten Farrell at Friday’s Los Angeles County Teachers of the Year event.

Los Angeles County Superintendent Debra Duardo with School Board Member Scott Schmerelson.

Honored for their expertise, dedication, creativity and commitment to excellence, three L.A. Unified teachers were named Friday as L.A. County Teachers of the Year, putting them in contention for the statewide title.

Michele Bethune from Dodson Middle School and Venice High teachers Daniel Buccieri and Kirsten Farrell joined 13 other educators from districts across Los Angeles County in receiving the honor. Representing the profession’s “best of the best” among 72,000 teachers countywide, they will compete in the California Teachers of the Year program.

“Teachers are critical to the increasing academic success of our students,” said Superintendent Michelle King, who started her career as a science teacher. “Thanks to our teachers, test scores are continuing to trend upward and our graduation rate is also on the rise. I would like to congratulate and thank our employees for their well-deserved recognition as L.A. County Teachers of the Year.”

School Board Member Scott Schmerelson attended the event at the Hilton Los Angeles in Universal City.

Isela Lieber of Monroe High, California’s Teacher of the Year, speaks at Friday’s event.

“It’s so nice to see every other school district participating and showing the best that they have,” said Schmerelson, a retired principal. “We’re all doing a great job in L.A. County.”

Bethune, of Rancho Palos Verdes, is an English and English-language development teacher.

“As a Los Angeles Unified classroom teacher for 23 years, I have worked with a number of amazing, talented educators,” she said. “Being recognized as a Los Angeles County Teacher of the Year is a great honor, and I am proud to represent public education.”

Daniel Buccieri, of Van Nuys, has been an educator for 14 years and now teaches World and U.S. History.

“I am deeply honored to have my work recognized,” he said. “This whole experience has been incredibly validating. It shows that my philosophy and educational passion, combined with a devotion to my craft, are making a difference.”

Kirsten Farrell, of Playa Del Rey, started the Sports Medicine program at Venice High School.

“Being recognized as a LACOE Teacher is a wonderful honor and to be included in this outstanding group of educators is a career highlight,” said Farrell, who has been teaching for 20 years. “As a certified athletic trainer and a high school teacher, I feel I have a unique approach to teaching as I can bring real-world experience to the classroom. Our kids are worth it.”


Click here to watch a KCLS News Brief about L.A. Unified’s award-winning teachers.