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2 AUHSD Teachers are Finalists for Orange County Teacher of the Year!

Dear Colleagues,
Please join us in congratulating Raquel Solorzano-Duenas and Matthew Bidwell for being two of the five finalists for Orange County Teacher of the Year.
The two were surprised in their classrooms this morning by a posse including Orange County Superintendent Dr. Al Mijares, representatives from Disney and SchoolsFirst, which sponsor the competition, and AUHSD leaders including Superintendent Michael Matsuda, Assistant Superintendent Jaron Fried and Chief Academic Officer Manuel Colon. What made the announcements even more special was the fact that family was on hand at both campuses. At Western High School, Raymond Solorzano, Raquel's brother, was in attendance. (The Solorzanos also graduated from Western.) At South Junior High School, counselor Cecilia Soberanis, Matt's wife, basked in the glow. In addition to Disney passes, Raquel and Matt each received $15,000!
"These exemplary teachers represent the best of their profession," Superintendent Matsuda said. "It's wonderful to see them recognized for the hard work they do on a daily basis to ensure their students succeed in college, careers, and life."
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Raquel Solorzano-Duenas (Western High School): Mrs. Solorzano-Duenas is an essential part of Western High School. She serves on the school leadership team, professional development team and leads the social science department. Her collaborative approach to leadership makes her well respected among her colleagues. Additionally, she works with other History teachers from the district to conduct trainings and serves on the Student Success committee. She has done all of this while furthering her own education and earning a master’s degree. Maybe the most impressive characteristic about Mrs. Solorzano-Duenas is the manner in which she goes about all of her work. She approaches each task in a quiet manner and her voice is never the loudest in the room. She does not seek out the spotlight but does not shy from the hard work of educating our students. As a classroom teacher, Raquel uses technology adeptly in combination with a variety of strategies to inspire and push students to higher achievement. She has guided many students thought the daunting task of remediating courses and helping them stay on track for graduation. She demonstrates pride in the school by coordinating student field trips and participating in school spirit activities. All of her efforts do not go unnoticed and both students and staff comment on all of the wonderful things she does.
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Matthew Bidwell (South Junior High School): Matt regularly has students collaborating and doing projects that require them to think critically, collaborate and communicate their findings. Matt takes this beyond his own classroom, however, by incorporating large numbers of students and teachers from multiple disciplines. Teacher of the year, however, is about more than just an individual classroom. It’s about reaching beyond to touch and inspire students on small and grand scales alike. It’s about leadership and being a colleague that everyone likes and respects. It’s about giving and being a servant leader. Matt Bidwell is a phenomenal Science and Technology teacher, but he’s also an AVID teacher who believes in his programs’ ability to improve the futures of his students. He’s a Tech Coach who loves seeing other teachers get excited about using technology to enhance their lessons. He’s a writing teacher who was just recently selected to lead a group of his peers in deconstructing the writing standards at South’s Professional Development Day. He’s an environmentalist who wants students to be stewards of their planet. He’s created an Outdoor Learning Environment and Garden that is going to incorporate solar energy to power the irrigation system. He’s a professional colleague. He’s a friend. He’s a loving and dedicated husband and father.