HAYWARD — Alameda County's favorite school subject appears to be science — for this year anyway.

Science teachers Jim Clark of San Lorenzo Unified and Frankie Tate of the Livermore Valley Joint Unified school districts received special honors Thursday night during the 19th annual Alameda County Teachers of the Year ceremony.

The two educators will now move on to the statewide Teacher of the Year competition, with a winner to be announced in November. A total of 16 county educators named their district's teacher of the year were recognized during the county Office of Education's ceremony held in the University Theater at Cal State East Bay in Hayward.

Clark, who at 49 is in his 25th year teaching at Arroyo High School in San Lorenzo, said during the ceremony that he was honored to be recognized, but does not consider himself to be the best teacher in his school — let alone his house.

"I really thank my wife, who also is a teacher at Arroyo, for helping me understand the other side of kids," he said. "She is the most caring, sensitive, and nurturing person I know. She has really been a great mentor for me."

Clark was a catalyst in establishing his school's health and medicine academy, an alternative to the traditional high school science program that also prepares students under guidelines that meet the UC and Cal State admission requirements.

The longtime educator also spent many years coaching basketball at the campus, and some of the successful strategies he used on players have spilled into the classroom.

Clark said he has found success by keeping the subject matter relevant and connecting it with his students.

Tate is also a veteran educator, having spent 22 years in the classroom. She currently teaches at Granada High School in Livermore.

"It's a tremendous honor to be recognized along with so many great teachers for my hard work," Tate said Thursday. "It's really important to me and something I will cherish for the rest of my life."

Students praised their instructor for her infectious enthusiasm for science.

"Ms. Tate is the most effective and inspiring teacher I've had during my time at Granada," student Shire Lynn Beach wrote in an application to the county. "She has become a valuable mentor to me and many fellow students, always willing to lend advice and guidance to us, even outside of school hours."

All teachers recognized Thursday received a commemorative statue engraved with their name, plus a cash award and other gifts from local vendors.

In addition, Clark and Tate also received a field trip for their classes to a watershed, courtesy of the East Bay Municipal Utility District.

"I salute these teachers and their principals for tangibly demonstrating an exciting curriculum and providing a quality education that serves every child, every day," said Sheila Jordan, superintendent for Alameda County schools.

Other educators recognized were:

  • Dennis Aquilina, Hart Middle School, Pleasanton Unified School District

  • Karen Berry, Woodrow Wilson Elementary School, San Leandro Unified School District

  • Herman Brown, Cole Middle School, Oakland Unified School District

  • Joanne Gouveia, Hirsch Elementary School, Fremont Unified School District

  • Melissa LeGuluche, Fallon Middle School, Dublin Unified School District

  • Lynette Marshall, Tri-Valley ROP in Livermore

  • Sharon Mullen of the Alameda County Office of Education

  • Karen Pezzetti, Youth Empowerment School, Oakland Unified School District

  • Loren Pinton, Newark Memorial High School, Newark Unified School District

  • Belynda Ray, Bret Harte Middle School, Hayward Unified School District

  • Brian Rodriguez, Encinal High School, Alameda Unified School District

  • Gordon Sanford, Mission Valley ROP in Fremont

  • Leslie Jo Sutton, Castro Valley High School, Castro Valley Unified School District

  • Lynne Thompson, Alvarado Middle School, New Haven Unified School District

    Staff writers Eric Louie and Jason Sweeney contributed to this story. Reach Kristofer Noceda at 510-293-2479 or knoceda@bayareanewsgroup.com.