A private, non-profit foundation is asking for nominations for three Contra Costa County teacher who demonstrate extraordinary commitment to their students. Winners receive $10,000 each.
The Warren W. Eukel Teacher Trust is accepting nominations until April 30. The competition is open to any public or private school teacher at any grade level in the county.
Ten finalists will be chosen from the nominees. The three recipients will be honored in a gala reception on Nov. 18 at the Diablo Country Club.
In 2010, the three recipients were Randy Kinavey of California High in San Ramon, Jeff Quittman of Orinda Academy and Renee Travis of Morello Park Elementary in Martinez.
The foundation was established in 1992 to honor the memory of Warren Eukel, a Contra Costa County resident who championed excellence in education.
Dan Birkhaeuser, a member of the foundation, said the organization focuses on teachers who bring passion to their classrooms as well as those who overcome obstacles.
He recalls one instructor at a lower-income school who convinced local stores to donate clothes to her school. She set up a shop on campus where middle school students who didn't own nice clothes could pick out new outfits.
"We're looking for teachers that go the extra mile," said Birkhaeuser. "We all had teachers who inspired us."
Birkhaeuser's Walnut Creek law firm — Bramson, Plutzik, Mahler and Birkhaeuser — help organize the event and provide volunteers and materials.
"Our mission is to identify excellence in education," said Birkhaeuser. "We think this is important. As a society, we don't honor and recognize teachers enough."
This is the foundation's 20th awards competition. Since 1992, it has awarded more than $400,000 to 52 Contra Costa County teachers.
Nomination forms and information can be obtained at the group's website, eukelteachertrust.org.