DIABLO -- Three Contra Costa teachers, all from East County, will be recognized this week for inspiring young people.
Now in its 21st year, the Warren W. Eukel Teacher Trust doles out large monetary awards to exceptional teachers in recognition of their contributions to county schools.
"These awards are given to outstanding teachers who go above and beyond for their students," said Alan Plutzik, the trust's co-president. "It recognizes the combination of excellence in the classroom and also the qualities of empathy and energy and creativity that make a great teacher."
"We've all had one of more teachers that made a deep impression upon us and made a big difference in our lives."
This year's winners are advanced placement history and medical ethics teacher Stacey Wickware of Dozier-Libbey Medical High School in Antioch; drama and art teacher Kathy Tickner of Excelsior Middle School in Byron; and biology and biotechnology teacher Sarah Peddie of Brentwood's Heritage High School.
They will each receive $10,000 awards at a gala dinner Thursday. The award is intended for teachers to use as they see fit.
Wickware, a five-year teacher in her fourth year at Dozier-Libbey, said she sets a high bar for herself in teaching.
"What drives me as an educator is the attitude that I'm going to teach you everything you need to know, now you need to tell me what I need to do for you. There's a lot of give and take," said Wickware, adding that she has contracts with the students.
Wickware has the ability to make history come alive for her students and engage interest and enthusiasm, Plutzik said. Wickware was also named Antioch Unified's teacher of the year last spring.
"I think it shows we aren't the only ones that think highly of her," Plutzik said.
Tickner, a 26-year teacher in the Byron district, was nominated by a former student, former superintendent and colleagues.
"When they called me to tell me I had won, the kids had come into class and were bouncing off the wall, and I had started crying. They asked what was wrong, but I told them it was OK. It was good tears," she said.
Being a credentialed art teacher has been "a roller-coaster ride" for Tickner, who says she has been pink-slipped 14 times. Nevertheless, Tickner brings a lot of energy and enthusiasm to the variety of classes she teaches.
Tickner, who is fond of storytelling, tells her students "you guys get to go home and say you only have to use half a brain today."
"They think that's so fun. Right there, they are excited," she said.
Peddie, a teacher for 15 years, including 13 in the Liberty Union High School District, has the ability to reach her students on their own level and find ways to sustain their interest, Plutzik said.
"The most important thing is the relationships I have with students. They can come to me if they are struggling; before or after school, my door is always open," Peddie said.
Her classroom has hot cocoa and oatmeal for the kids in the mornings.
Peddie describes her teaching style as "a little quirky on purpose," to get students to laugh and help make that connection with them. She also makes sure all of her lessons include multiple learning styles so they reach and connect with all the ways her students learn.
The trust was formed in 1991 to honor the memory of Warren Eukel, a Walnut Creek resident who worked for more than 30 years to help teachers positively influence students. It is a community-based nonprofit organization that collects donations to reward teachers who are nominated each year.
Contact Paul Burgarino at 925-779-7164. Follow him at Twitter.com/paulburgarino.