Cox Communications will announce San Diego County teachers of the year on Friday, and among the nominees is a South Bay elementary school teacher who's being recognized for her work not only inside but also outside the classroom.
Rice Elementary has been educating tiny scholars in Chula Vista since way back in 1938. While Cynthia Montano has only been teaching there for the past six years, she's made a huge impact on hundreds and hundreds of students. Spend just a few minutes inside her dual-immersion class and you’ll wish you were back in fourth grade — Montano's energy is contagious.
But the learning doesn’t stop when they step outside the door. Right before kids returned to in-person classes, Montano built a monarch-butterfly garden where students can nurture new life while taking a break from their own.
"We had a lot of kids come back with so many issues — as we all did, right? — post-pandemic, all that stress, all that anxiety going on," Montano told NBC 7. "So I felt it important to create a space for them to feel safe, to feel welcomed… almost like a little sanctuary."
Montano's good deeds have not gone unnoticed.
"She really thought about her kids coming back to school after the pandemic, and not just about teaching them reading, writing and arithmetic, but some of those other needs, and that’s what all of these teachers have in common," said Ceanne Guerra of Cox Communications.
Montano is one of 40 teachers nominated for the award from Cox. Five winners will be announced Friday and will go on to compete at the state level.