Selma High ag teacher named Fresno County's top educator

The Fresno BeeOctober 24, 2013 

Three men were recognized as Fresno County's top educators at the Saroyan Theatre on Thursday during the county Office of Education's annual Educator of the Year Awards Ceremony.

Roy Swift, 55, was named the county's top educator and Teacher of the Year. Swift, an agriculture teacher in his 25th year at Selma High School, said he was surprised to hear his name when they announced the winner. Swift, who runs the school's agriculture department, was recognized for encouraging his students to find their passion in life.

"It's very special just to be nominated, to be top three is ultra special, and to get the award is phenomenal," Swift said. "But it probably won't sink in until tomorrow."

The other nominees for Teacher of the Year were Debi Foth, a fourth-grade teacher at Liberty Elementary in Kerman, and Taryn Whitaker, a fourth-grade teacher at Malaga Elementary in Fowler Unified.

Swift will represent Fresno County at the California Teacher of the Year Awards competition early next year.

Marc Johnson, retired superintendent of Sanger Unified School District, was named Administrator of the Year.

Johnson was recognized for transforming the district and making an impact locally as well as at the state level. Sanger Unified has made strong academic gains, despite a lower-income student population.

The two other administrators nominated for the award were Terry R. Anderson, principal at Firebaugh High, and Jefferson C. Moore, principal at Riverdale High.

Setha Nhim, a parent trainer at the Fresno County Office of Education, was named the county's School Employee of the Year.

Setha's childhood in Cambodia has made him a strong advocate for education and a champion and guide for minority families. He helps parents, especially those who speak little or no English, to understand the public school system so they can be more involved.

Other nominees for School Employee of the Year were Edward Sepulveda, a special education bilingual aide at Laton High School, and Richard Wagner, director of maintenance in Fowler Unified.

This year's program was dedicated to Pete Mehas, a former Fresno County schools superintendent known for his commitment to scholarship and bettering the Valley, who died Sept. 27.

The reporter can be reached at (559) 441-6659 or daguilera@fresnobee.com.

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