School: Sunset Hills Elementary
District: Poway Unified School District
County: San Diego County
Region: Southern California
Grade: Elementary School
Subject: Multiple Subjects
Award Year: 2000
Karen O’Connor is past chair of the California Teachers of the Year (CATOY) Foundation and a retired elementary teacher from Poway School District in San Diego County. She was a 1999 San Diego County Teacher of the Year and a 2000 California Teacher of the Year.
Highlights of Karen’s 29-year teaching career include being a 2nd year BTSA mentor/provider and a Gifted and Talented Education (GATE) coordinator, and serving on several state-wide committees under Delaine Eastin’s tenure as State Superintendent. She has been a workshop presenter for many years in a variety of areas, with particular strengths in writing presentations, musical theater for children and differentiated instruction. Karen has worked with several districts as a trainer of trainers in writing instruction. She also enjoys working with student teachers and has mentored 22 of them, many of whom are now teaching in her district. She has a strong interest in teacher recruitment and retention.
In addition, Karen served for six years on the Teacher Credentialing Commission’s Committee on Accreditation, and for eight years on Poway Unified School District’s Professional Learning Advisory Committee. She has been a California Teachers of the Year Foundation Executive Board member for 19 years, holding many positions, including that of Chair. Karen continues to be active in the CA Teachers of the Year programs with the California Department of Education’s Awards Division, and the CATOY Foundation.