Eighth-grade History and Social Science teacher Amelia Cheatum has been named one of the 16 Los Angeles County Teachers of the Year for 2021-22, by the L.A. County Office of Education at the 40th annual Teacher of the Year awards banquet held during September in Universal City. Earlier in the year, Cheatum was named Burbank Unified School District’s Teacher of the Year.
“It was such an honor to be named Muir’s Teacher of the Year in May by my beloved colleagues,” Cheatum commented. “Being named Burbank Teacher of the Year and then an L.A. County Teacher of the Year was also very surreal because I feel like a new teacher still, but I’m incredibly proud to represent Burbank.
Cheatum is in her ninth year of teaching, with the past six years at Muir Middle School. Previously, she taught at PUC CALS, a charter school in Eagle Rock.
The Burbank native also said, “I love teaching in my hometown.”
The Los Angeles County Office of Education Teachers of the Year Program is the largest local competition in the state and the country and is part of the oldest and most prestigious honors contest in the U.S. for public-school teachers, according to the LACOE’s most recent press release announcing the County Teachers of the Year.
“During this time of extraordinary challenges to our school communities. It is especially important that we pay tribute to our outstanding teachers who, over the past year and a half of this pandemic, have been bringing care, compassion and ingenuity to both their virtual and in-person classrooms,” said Los Angeles County Superintendent of Schools Debra Duardo, MSW, Ed.D. “I am truly impressed by their innovative practices and the partnerships they have created to keep students learning and thriving.”
The 16 LACOE Teachers of the Year were chosen from a field of 56 teachers, all chosen as Teachers of the Year for their respective districts, representing 52 school districts in L.A. County. Contestants were interviewed and submitted essays, lesson plans and other materials to panels of judges made up of previous Teachers of the Year.
“I love teaching because middle schoolers have such interesting perspectives and I feel fortunate that I get to hear them and read them every day,” Cheatum said. “Middle schoolers can be very silly while at the same time making very intellectual historical connections that often surprise me, and that’s what is so fun about teaching history.”
“Teaching history is also rewarding because I get to introduce students to lots of different perspectives,” she added. “Now that I have a better handle on my content, I’ve been working hard to embed more perspectives from People of Color and other groups historically left out of history textbooks.”
“I think students really appreciate about this and care about this as well. It’s very important to represent lots of different people in our history curriculum, especially groups and figures that our students connect with,” Cheatum also said. “I want students to understand that they matter and that they too have agency to accomplish great things.”
“Amelia Cheatum is an amazing teacher and person,” commented Muir Middle School Principal Greg Miller. “At Muir, she is the History department chair, a Global Scholars teacher, organizes our Around The World Day activities and serves on our DEI committee.”
“She is always sharing with her colleagues and looking for ways to support her fellow teachers,” Miller continued. “Most importantly, she is a great teacher who connects with her students and challenges them to learn from history and apply it to today’s challenges.”
‘We are so fortunate to have Ms. Cheatum as a BUSD teacher,” commented Burbank Unified Superintendent Matt Hill. “On behalf of the Board of Education, we congratulate her on this well-deserved honor.”
The Los Angeles County Office of Education is the largest regional education agency in the United States, providing a range of programs and services to support the area’s 80 K-12 school districts and two million preschool and school-age children. The 16 L.A. County Teachers of the Year will be considered with other California county Teachers of the Year for recognition at the State level, with results to be announced in late October.