The last nine months have been a school year like no other, from distance learning at home to a campus return filled with COVID-19 safety protocols. Despite these challenges, Crowell Elementary School teacher Ronald Putnam had no difficulty navigating the “new normal” and was recently named a finalist in the Stanislaus County Teachers of the Year awards.
The Modesto Rotary Club and the Stanislaus County Office of Education named four Teacher of the Year winners from TK-3, 4-6, junior high and high school divisions, recognizing a total of 12 finalists. Each division honored three finalists, who had been nominated by their site principal, from a total of 74 nominations. Of those received, Putnam was selected to represent Crowell in the TK-3 category.
Crowell Principal Margaret Osmer said she was inspired to nominate Putnam because he not only excels through his work in the classroom, but his dedication to the community as well.
In addition to providing strong academic instruction to his students in the school’s autism program, Putnam teaches an adult English as a Second Language class for Turlock Adult School. He also supports a Home and Hospital student who is unable to physically attend class and was instrumental in the creation and maintenance of the Crowell School Garden. Additionally, Putnam represents his Special Education colleagues on the Crowell School Guiding Coalition Team.
“Mr. Putnam is among a staff of outstanding and dedicated teachers and paraprofessionals,” Osmer said. “However, the scope of Ron’s interests in supporting the many aspects of education and our school community is extraordinary.”
This is the 22nd year that Modesto Rotary and SCOE have joined efforts to honor teachers in Stanislaus County, who were recognized via a hybrid luncheon at two separate locations and on Zoom. Putnam was the only Turlock Unified School District teacher to be selected as a finalist this year, which Osmer said was a career highlight during her time at Crowell.
“The pride and validation of how I see his hard work, commitment to our school and determination to make a difference in the lives of his students is extremely meaningful,” Osmer said.
She also praised all 12 finalists for their dedication during the pandemic.
“It speaks to their perseverance, grit and absolute dedication to the teaching profession. Without a pandemic, teachers are constantly learning, adapting, caring, resilient and dedicated professionals,” Osmer said. “This last year brought so many unknowns and adaptations that literally reinvented education. This year’s winners all reached new heights while building the education plane in the air.”