Top principals, teachers honored 

When Michael Tse was a little boy, he did not want to go to kindergarten. His mom would drop him off at school and he would cry and cry, looking for her.

Fortunately for Tse, he had a kind kindergarten teacher who hugged him and comforted him, and school didn’t seem so scary or lonely after awhile.

Thirty years later, when Tse went to Francis Scott Key Elementary School in the Outer Sunset district to enroll his own daughter, who should he meet in the hallway but Karen Leong, the very same teacher who had comforted him all those years before.

“Right away, I knew I had to enroll my daughter in her class,” he said.

Tse and 6-year-old daughter Miya attended a ceremony in City Hall on Monday honoring Leong and nine other teachers, who were each chosen as the Mayor’s Teachers of the Month — Leong was February’s. Also, four principals were recognized as the Mayor’s Principals of the Year.

Another member of the audience at City Hall was Wendy Ju, who brought 6-year-old son Adrian. He’s in Trude Yazman’s class at Commodore Sloat Elementary School in Balboa Terrace, and the pair came to the ceremony to support Yazman, who was recognized as the September Teacher of the Month.

“My son is very mischievous in class; he’s a troublemaker. But she always has time for him,” Ju said. “She also taught me how to help him at home to focus on his work.”

The honored teachers walked away with $500 and a pair of round-trip tickets on Virgin America, along with surprise gifts like a whale-watching tour and an iPad.

At the awards ceremony, San Francisco Unified School District Superintendent Carlos Garcia called the group the “rock stars of education,” people who managed to “make learning joyful.”

“‘American Idol’ has nothing on you because you really have talent,” he told them.

Mayor Gavin Newsom acknowledged that the schools were facing tough times, with recent state budget cuts, but said San Francisco has a reputation for rising to the occasion and helping its schools.

“It’s been challenging,” Newsom said. “But I much prefer to be here in San Francisco facing these challenges than in any other county."


Best of The City’s education leaders

Four principals and 10 teachers were recognized by Mayor Gavin Newsom for their work this school year.

Mayor’s Principal of the Year honorees

  • Raul Erazo-Chavez, Bryant Child Development Center
  • Sara Shenkan-Rich, Sherman Elementary School
  • Judith Giampaoli, Francisco Middle School
  • William Kappenhagen, Phillip and Sala Burton Academic High School


Mayor’s Teacher of the Month honorees (September-June)

  • Trude Yazman, Commodore Sloat Elementary School
  • Karen Field, Galileo Academy of Science and Technology High School
  • Xiao-Lin Yin-Croft, Ulloa Elementary School
  • David Costanza, Balboa High School
  • Julie Coghlan, School of the Arts High School
  • Karen Leong, Francis Scott Key Elementary School
  • Robert Roth, Mission High School
  • Debra Netkin, Lawton Alternative Elementary School
  • Janet Nedeau, Thurgood Marshall Academic High School
  • Tanya de la Jara, Monroe Elementary School

Source: Mayor’s Office

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Katie Worth

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