Santa Barbara County Education Office names Distinguished New Teachers, Mentors

Eight exemplary educators in Santa Barbara County will be honored November 2, 2019, at the seventh annual A Salute to Teachers gala sponsored by the Santa Barbara County Education Office (SBCEO), Cox Communications, and other organizations, and held at the Music Academy of the West. Three teachers have been chosen as Distinguished New Educators, and three have been recognized as Distinguished Mentors. In addition, the 2020 Santa Barbara County Teacher of the Year, Michele Frantz, and the 2020 Santa Barbara Bowl Performing Arts Teacher of the Year, Bree Jansen, will also be honored.

Frantz is a first-grade teacher at Joe Nightingale School in the Orcutt Union School District and Jansen is an English and performing/visual arts teacher at Lompoc High School in the Lompoc Unified School District.

The Distinguished New Educators, nominated by their peers and chosen by a committee through the SBCEO, are:

Anthony Bruemmer, Santa Ynez School, College School District

Melanie Thatcher, Miguelito School, Lompoc Unified School District

Michael Wallace, El Camino Junior High School, Santa Maria-Bonita School District

The Distinguished Mentors, also peer-nominated and chosen by committee, are:

Marith Parton, Carpinteria Middle School, Carpinteria Unified School District

Marilyn Tilley, Battles School, Santa Maria-Bonita School District

Amy Willis, Los Olivos School, Los Olivos School District

These six award-winning educators are participants in the Teacher Induction Program at the SBCEO. The induction program pairs new teachers with experienced mentors to accelerate teacher effectiveness and provide the necessary coaching and support for their first two years of teaching. 

“A Salute to Teachers is a wonderful way to honor our outstanding local educators who inspire young minds each day and who model professional excellence,” said County Superintendent of Schools Dr. Susan Salcido. She added, “The event recognizes and highlights the value Santa Barbara County places upon high-quality education.”

SBCEO is grateful for partners such as Cox Communications and sponsors including Fielding Graduate University, Montecito Bank & Trust, Noozhawk, Santa Barbara City College Foundation, the Santa Barbara Bowl, and others, who make this event possible.

For more information about the awards or the event, visit or contact Steven Keithley, SBCEO director of teacher programs and support, at (805) 964-4710, ext. 5281. For more information about the SBCEO Teacher Induction Program, visit or contact John Merritt, director of the teacher induction program, at (805) 964-4710, ext. 5426.