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Gianelli In Running For Teacher Honors
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Jon Gianelli of Cardozo Middle School is a Stanislaus County Teacher of the Year finalist. VIRGINIA STILL/The News

Riverbank teachers Jackie Withrow, California Avenue Elementary; Stacy Blevins, Riverbank High School; and Jon Gianelli, Cardozo Middle School (CMS) were nominated from the Riverbank Unified School District (RUSD) for Stanislaus County Teacher of the Year, 2014 sponsored by the Stanislaus County Office of Education and the Modesto Rotary Club.

These teachers were recognized at the RUSD school board meeting earlier this month.

Gianelli, who serves as a Social Studies, Computer Applications, and Yearbook teacher at Cardozo Middle School has also been selected as one of the top 12 finalists for the county. There are four categories, K-3, 4-6, 7-8, and 9-12 and Gianelli is in the top three for junior high teachers.

All 12 finalists will have the opportunity to receive the Jane Johnston Civility Award presented by the Education Foundation of Stanislaus County, which would be a plaque and cash award as well as being selected for the Teacher of the Year.

The winners will be announced May 6 at the Modesto Rotary luncheon.

“I feel very honored to have been nominated,” said Gianelli. “I believe Cardozo Middle School has amazing teachers and I am proud to represent our school.”

Cardozo Principal, Kevin Bizzini, nominated Gianelli for Teacher of the Year in the Junior High category.

The principals of each school may nominate one teacher to be considered for Teacher of the Year who are full-time teachers of grades K-12, fully credentialed, and have been teaching a minimum of eight years.


The following are a few excerpts from Bizzini’s nomination letter:

The foundation for Mr. Gianelli’s notable reputation at Cardozo Middle School is his genuine respect for his students. Jon took it upon himself to secure an additional credential, in Industrial and Technology Education, when he recognized that elective courses were being lost at his school. Jon’s proficiency and savvy with technology is a vital asset for him as he prepares his students for the educational shifts of the Common Core State Standards, helps them produce and publish the yearbook, participate in the Future City program, and as he crafts highly interactive daily lessons. Jon’s nomination for Teacher of the Year would undoubtedly be approved and applauded by every teacher on the Cardozo Middle School Faculty.


According to the website, the Teacher of the Year Awards are designed to pay special tribute to outstanding K-12 teachers in Stanislaus County and promote public recognition and respect for the teaching profession.

The teacher of the year program is open to local public and private schools within Stanislaus County.

Gianelli had to submit a written “self-portrait” including answers to specific questions and following a specific page format.

In the self-portrait, Gianelli explained that his fourth grade teacher was a tremendous influence on his life and that he inspired in his students a passion for learning, creativity and community. His grandfather and uncles also influenced him to become a teacher.

Gianelli has been teaching at Cardozo for eight years and obtained his credentials at CSU Stanislaus.

Toward the end of the self-portrait, Gianelli added that his greatest contribution to education is that he cares deeply about the students and his obligation towards them. He believes that his students know that he is a professional that holds their education and success as his number one priority.

The five-step selection process consists of submitting an application including the nomination letter and the teacher’s self-portrait, the teachers will be observed, the 12 finalists will be videotaped in their classroom, the teachers will then be formally presented with the Teacher of the Year finalist award, and the four winners (one from each level) will be interviewed and two will be selected to go on to represent Stanislaus County in the California Teacher of the Year program.