SANTEE (CNS) - A math and engineering teacher at West Hills High School in Santee was named Friday as one of California's five Teachers of the Year by State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond.
Tiffany Jokerst, who teaches grades 9 through 12, is among the 2022 California Teachers of the Year and one of "five outstanding and talented teachers who have gone above and beyond during a challenging time in education, and in our lives," according to a statement from the California Department of Education.
Jokerst was the lone San Diego County educator honored on Friday.
"Tiffany is a shining example of an educator who works tirelessly to ensure that her students are engaged and poised for success, both in school and beyond," San Diego County superintendent Paul Gothold said. "She has persevered through challenging times and remains dedicated to elevating all her students. We are proud to have her represent all San Diego County teachers."
Theresa Kemper, superintendent for the Grossmont Union High School District that West Hills belongs to, said, "With the heart of a servant, Tiffany Jokerst goes to extraordinary lengths to meet the learning needs of each of her students. She's a brilliant and innovative educator who opens her students' eyes, no matter where they come from, to both the wonder and accessibility of mathematics. Tiffany's service to GUHSD has made our district and the entire teaching profession better."
A teacher for 15 years, Jokerst said one of the job's most rewarding aspects is seeing students who were initially apprehensive about math bloom into confident math learners.
"When I create experiences that draw from real-life scenarios, each student is drawn into the conversation and can contribute, and find success, despite their background knowledge. Uniqueness is celebrated in my class daily," she said.
"Students have commented that before my class, they always felt that math should be done in one way, but now they strive to be the student that finds a different way to solve problems."
A student of Jokerst's for three years, identified as Anna, said, "Mrs. Jokerst, without fail, made sure myself and each of her students felt welcome, and ensured they had a safe, comfortable place to learn. She greeted our class every morning with energy and enthusiasm to teach and made learning in her class fun and something I looked forward to daily."
Jokerst is the first San Diego County teacher to be named a California Teacher of the Year since 2017, when Jaime Brown, an English and film studies teacher at San Diego High School of International Studies, received the honor.
The Grossmont Union High School District is also the only California district to have teachers named among California's top teachers in both 2021 and 2022. Last year, El Capitan High School Economics and Government teacher Jay Tweet was named a 2021 Teacher of the Year finalist.