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Turlock educator competes for state Teacher of the Year title
Kristen Leigh
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Creative lesson plans in her college marketing class sparked Dennis Earl Elementary teacher Kristen Leigh’s successful teaching career that has landed her a spot in the 2010 California Teacher of the Year competition.

Leigh credits passion, however, for a successful three years of teaching.

“Having passion for teaching motivates my students which engages my students and that helps the students learn,” Leigh said. 

Leigh was nominated for Stanislaus County Teacher of the Year in March along with three other teachers in the county — and was one of two from the Turlock Unified School District. The other teacher from TUSD who was nominated was Denise Nulph, a teacher at Turlock Junior High School.

Starting as a business administration major at California State University, Fresno, Leigh found passion in her marketing classes but discovered it wasn’t marketing that she was interested in. She was interested in creating lesson plans and activities for her fellow students.

From that passion she took on teaching and has been teaching sixth graders at Dennis Earl ever since.

“I have a lot of fun,” Leigh said. “I love going to school every day.”

One of her favorite things about teaching is helping her students grow and challenging them daily, she said.

“Kristin’s students consistently outperform all other classes at Earl School as well as the district in both Language Arts and Mathematics,” said Dennis Earl Principal Tami Truax. “Her high expectations are coupled with an immense amount of support and caring. She plans her lessons around the core curriculum, while using supplementary materials to bring her lessons to life.”

There will be five teachers selected from around California as the state’s Teacher of the Year for 2010. Representatives from major educational and parent organizations along with veteran teachers will make the year’s selection of teachers. Teachers who are within the five selected at the state level will be observed in late October and announcements will be made in November. One of the state winners will go on to the national level.

Leigh said she is very excited to be among those other teachers at the state level.

“She works very hard, is well spoken and represents the hard-working teachers in the state of California very well,” said TUSD Superintendent Sonny Da Marto. “I am very proud of her. She really has a passion for teaching and education.”

To contact Maegan Martens, e-mail or call 634-9141 ext. 2015.