Ashford University Applauds San Diego's Best Teachers at 20th Annual Salute to Teachers Event

The brightest stars among San Diego County’s 26,000 public school teachers were celebrated this past weekend in black-tie style at the 20th Annual Salute to Teachers, an event sponsored by Ashford University. 

The Salute to Teachers gala was a presentation of the 37th Annual San Diego County Teacher of the Year awards, and was attended by leaders and influential members of San Diego’s educational community. Held Oct. 16 at San Diego’s Balboa Theater, and televised live in high-definition, five 2011 County Teachers of the Year were announced and honored. Selected from a group of 44 San Diego teachers nominated by their local school districts, the five award-winners will now contend for the 2011 California Teacher of the Year title.  

Ashford University’s President Dr. Jane McAuliffe presented the first San Diego Teacher of the Year finalist to the sold-out crowd of 1,300. 

“Ashford University is honored to support San Diego’s teachers and the San Diego County Teacher of the Year Awards,” said McAuliffe. “We’re fortunate that such fine teachers are available for San Diego’s youth. They deserve every bit of recognition they receive, and more.”

San Diego County’s 2011 Teachers of the Year include:

-          Darin Curtis: eighth grade physical education teacher at Tierra del Sol Middle School, Lakeside Union School District

-          Eric Frandsen: seventh grade math teacher at King Middle School, Oceanside Unified School District

-          Stephen Keiley: fourth and fifth grade teacher at the Monarch School, San Diego County Office of Education

-          Ericka Senegar-Mitchell: biology teacher at Serra High School, San Diego Unified School District

-          Shaylene Watkins: fourth and fifth grade teacher at Monterey Ridge Elementary School, Poway Unified School District 

Following a rousing standing ovation at Saturday night’s gala, all five 2011 San Diego County Teachers of the Year spent their Sunday morning on the local news circuit being interviewed by KUSI’s Bridget Naso, and San Diego 6’s Courtney Dwyer. 

The televised Salute to Teachers award ceremony aired live on San Diego’s Channel 4 and 704 and will replay on those same channels at 7 p.m. on Oct. 30, and at 8 p.m. on Nov. 6. The 20th annual Salute to Teachers was a coproduction of Cox Communications and the San Diego County Office of Education. 

About Ashford University

Founded in 1918, Ashford University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools ( The University offers graduate and undergraduate degree programs online and at its Clinton, Iowa, campus. The University is known for its high quality yet highly affordable online and on-campus programs. For more information, please visit or call Shari Rodriguez, associate vice president of Public Relations, at 858.513.9240 x2513.