Encinal's Kerber Named AUSD Teacher of the Year

AUSD -- Encinal High English teacher Jessica Kerber was named the 2023 AUSD Teacher of the Year.
AUSD -- Encinal High English teacher Jessica Kerber was named the 2023 AUSD Teacher of the Year.

Encinal's Kerber Named AUSD Teacher of the Year

Alameda Unified School District (AUSD) announced recently that Jessica Kerber, an English teacher at Encinal Jr. & Sr. High School, has been selected as the 2023 Teacher of the Year.

Kerber who has taught at Encinal High School (EHS) since 2005, received her bachelor's degree in English Literature from UC Berkeley, and her teaching credential through Project Pipeline.

“My goal in my 18th year at Encinal is to make learning relevant and engaging, a process in which both the students and I are working together to make the most of the experience,” Kerber wrote in her application. “I want students to feel invested and to experience joy in learning.”

Colleagues who submitted recommendation letters cited Kerber’s high professional standards and ability to both engage and connect with students.

“Jessica’s teaching style is both engaging and effective,” one nominator wrote. “She has a natural ability to connect with her students and make content come alive for them. One of the things that I appreciate about Ms. Kerber is her ability to hold her students to high expectations while simultaneously differentiating instruction based on their individual needs. She is masterful at this.”

Another nominator also referenced Kerber’s skill as a leader (she has served as chair of the EHS English Department as well as the professional development lead) and collaborator, as well as her creation and initiation of the “Mental Health Matters” English class at the school. In that course, students read novels that focus on mental health matters and also research topics such as PTSD, depression, anxiety, and gender norms.

“I heard the term, ‘warm demander’ early on in my teaching career, and it stuck with me.” Kerber wrote in her application, “That is exactly the type of teacher I would say I am. I’m kind and compassionate, and I work hard to connect. But I also hold students accountable and push them to be the best version of themselves.”

Nominees for AUSD Teacher of the Year came from parents, students, staff, and the community (“Nominate an Educator for AUSD’s Teacher of the Year,” Dec. 15, 2022). After being invited to submit materials (including a resume and letters of support), a selection committee selected three semi-finalists and observed them in the classroom and then interviewed them before making a final decision. The other semifinalists this year were Miriam Lenhardt, an English teacher at Alameda High School; Amanda Brenc and Alexandra Wanigatunga, both of whom teach at Love Elementary School; and Jessica Serrano, who teaches deaf and hard of hearing students across the district.

“It is always exciting to be able to observe and reflect on high-quality educators through the Teacher of the Year process,” said AUSD Superintendent Pasquale Scuderi in a statement. “Ms. Kerber is a very dedicated and innovative educator — one who is able to both personally support and academically challenge her students. This is exactly the kind of teaching and relationship building that helps students reach their highest potential. I look forward to being able to spotlight and share her strategies over the coming year.”

“The Board applauds Ms. Kerber and all of the nominees for 2023 Teacher of the Year,” AUSD Board of Education President Heather Little said in a statement. “This year’s nominations shine a bright light on the incredible talent and commitment we have among the teaching ranks of our district and reminds us of the crucial role our educators play in the lives of our students.”

This fall, the Alameda County Office of Education will honor all the Teachers of the Year in the county, and Kerber will have an opportunity to become Alameda County Teacher of the Year. Last year, Lincoln Middle School drama and English teacher Veronica Rylander was named AUSD's 2022 Teacher of the Year ("https://alamedasun.com/news/alameda-middle-school-teacher-honored-county... Oct. 13, 2022).