SAN DIEGO - A special education instructor at Del Norte High School in 4S Ranch was named Monday as one of four finalists for national Teacher of the Year.
Megan Gross, who teaches an autism spectrum disorder day class at the campus in the Poway Unified School District, was previously honored as one of the five state Teachers of the Year.
Gross said she was surprised by the honor.
"You know, it's not why we go into teaching, to get accolades or awards. So for me as a person, it's just surprising and kind of surreal," she said. "But for what I do and the work that I do, I'm excited to have this opportunity to talk about my students and about inclusion and hopefully make change for other students in the country."
Gross has been in special education for nine years, the last three at Del Norte High, and is an advocate for fully integrating students of different ability levels into classroom and school activities.
"Megan is a terrific educator who is deeply dedicated to creating a safe and productive learning environment for her students," said state Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson.
"She has worked diligently to end the social and physical isolation of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities," Torlakson said. "I am proud to have her represent California. She is an exemplary example of how innovative teachers can enrich the students' lives."
Gross, along with teachers from Massachusetts, Wisconsin and Maryland, were chosen by a panel comprising 15 education organizations and representing more than seven million educators.
The national Teacher of the Year will be announced this spring.