Petaluma educator Danielle Kennedy recognized as Sonoma County’s 2022 Teacher of the Year

Petaluma educator Danielle Kennedy was honored during a ceremony on Thursday.|

Danielle Kennedy, a special education teacher at La Tercera Elementary School in Petaluma, has been named Sonoma County’s 2022 Teacher of the Year.

Local education officials honored Kennedy during a Thursday ceremony at the Petaluma City Schools district office where she was presented with a $3,000 check from Community First Credit Union.

Melinda Susan, director of the South County Consortium, which provides special education services to many Petaluma students, nominated Kennedy for the honor. In a June interview, she described her colleague as “remarkable,” with an exceptional ability to meet students where they are.

“She would never try and fit a square peg in a round hole,” Susan said. “Danielle’s classroom is full of shapes and if there's somebody that walks through the door who is a completely different shape from somebody she’s ever come across, she will do everything in her power to modify her teaching and her classroom to accommodate that student.”

To be eligible for Teacher of the Year, educators must be credentialed and have taught for at least eight years. After being selected by their county office of education, teachers submit an application to the state. Applicants that make the next round interview with Tony Thurmond, state superintendent of public instruction.

From there, the state superintendent names several educators as California Teachers of the Year. Of those teachers, one is selected to serve as the state's representative to the National Teacher of the Year Program.

You can reach Staff Writer Kaylee Tornay at 707-521-5250 or On Twitter @ka_tornay.

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