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Newport-Mesa Unified School District Recognizes Teachers of the Year
Posted 4/4/19

Newport-Mesa Unified School District (NMUSD) and the Newport-Mesa Federation of Teachers (NMFT) are pleased to announce the selection of Ms. Tamara Fairbanks, music teacher at Mariners Elementary; Mrs. Daniela Ramos, kindergarten teacher at Davis Magnet School; and Mrs. Colleen Tolles, English teacher at Ensign Intermediate as the 2019 Teachers of the Year.

Teachers are nominated for this prestigious honor by their peers and/or school community members at each NMUSD school. Nominated teachers submit a written application. These applications are used to determine finalists for classroom observations and interviews. Consideration for Teacher of the Year is based on quality of instruction, educational philosophy, and contribution to the profession. This selection process is managed by a committee of prior winners, retired teachers, and NMFT leaders.

The NMUSD winners, who were honored at an awards banquet hosted by the Newport-Mesa Schools Foundation, will be submitted for consideration in the Orange County Teacher of the Year program.

“NMFT is honored to support the Teacher of the Year program,” said Dr. Britt Dowdy, NMFT president. “Newport-Mesa educators are among the best in California and we are lucky to work with three amazing women, who inspire our students and staff on a daily basis,” he said.                          

Tamara Fairbanks
Tamara Fairbanks

Ms. Tamara Fairbanks, Mariners Elementary

Ms. Fairbanks has been in education for more than 20 years and has taught music at NMUSD schools for 16 of those years. Ms. Fairbanks works tirelessly to provide an exceptional music experience for all students. She is known for supporting students beyond curriculum and is dedicated to helping them overcome obstacles.

In addition to teaching music at Mariners Elementary, Ms. Fairbanks has led in the development of district wide music festivals and workshops. She served as a leader of several professional organizations, including Orange County Music and Arts Administrators. She is passionate about the importance of learning and personal growth. 

“Students will remember the moments where we have an impact on them,” said Ms. Fairbanks. “[We] teach lovingly, meaningfully and passionately so that [students] can be free to discover their purpose,” she said.

Daniela Ramos  Left  Charlene Metoyer  right
Daniela Ramos (left), Board President Charlene Metoyer (right)

Ms. Daniela Ramos, Davis Elementary

Ms. Ramos began her career with NMUSD in 2004 and is currently a kindergarten teacher at Davis Magnet School.
She is known for her ability to differentiate instruction and support students with their varied level of abilities. As an active member of the Positive Behavior Intervention and Supports (PBIS) team, she believes in creating a supportive and safe environment for students to foster and channel their love of knowledge.

Her professionalism, cooperative spirit, and willingness to share her expertise also earned her the respect and admiration of colleagues and the greater school community.

“I aspire to create a classroom environment that empowers my students to understand that mistakes are a continuous aspect of life and a form of learning that guides you… every mistake made is progress,” said Ms. Ramos.

Colleen Tolles  left  Charlene Metoyer  right
Collen Tolles (left), Board President Charlene Metoyer (right)

Mrs. Colleen Tolles, Ensign Intermediate

Mrs. Tolles has been teaching at NMUSD for more than eight years and is currently a seventh and eighth grade English teacher at Ensign Intermediate. She values student interests and is passionate about developing systems that inspire and help students find new ways to approach learning.

In addition to teaching at Ensign, she also serves as the English department chair, co-advises the Ensign National Junior Honor Society, serves as an inductions mentor for new teachers, and has coached multiple Ensign sports teams.

“I balance high expectations with a fun atmosphere by offering students respect, fostering a safe learning space, giving every voice value, caring about each student, and being enthusiastic about what I teach,” Said Mrs. Tolles.