Angelo Bracco is named as one of the state's 'Teachers of the Year'
Vallejo Times Herald
By Tony Burchyns, Times-Herald staff writer
Contact staff writer Tony Burchyns at firstname.lastname@example.org or (707) 553-6831. Follow him on Twitter @tonyburchyns.
POSTED: 11/05/2013 01:02:21 AM PST
A retired police officer who became a Vallejo middle school teacher has been named one of California's five "Teachers of the Year," State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson announced Monday.
Angelo "Ang" Bracco, who teaches at Solano Middle School, received the honor along with four other public-school teachers from across the state, according to a press release from Torlakson's office.
"These outstanding teachers have my thanks and admiration for the work they do every day to provide our students with the knowledge, skills and opportunities they need to succeed," Torlakson said. "They bring talent, dedication and more to a job that is as critical as it is challenging -- and even, more rewarding."
Bracco, 65, has been at the north Vallejo school for 14 years, where he's chaired the Special Education Department for 10 years. He holds a special-education credential and an autism spectrum-disorders certificate.
"It's exciting," Bracco told the Times-Herald on Monday afternoon. "I'm so proud to be a Vallejo City Unified School District teacher. Our teachers here in this district ... other districts pay so much more ... but these teachers that remain with us and are dedicated teachers ... I just feel that I've been so fortunate to speak for them as well as myself.
"I feel now there's going to be opportunities for me to express what we do here in Vallejo ... what it is to work with at-risk children, with children from backgrounds of poverty, and how we can make a difference and as teachers change people's lives," Bracco added. "I'm passionate about that. So many of us in Vallejo are here for our dedication."
Bracco pursued his teaching credential after a 27-year career in law enforcement in San Francisco and Concord. Prior to stepping into the classroom, the Gilroy native was named "Police Officer of the Year" in both cities.
He initially was hired on an "emergency credential" by the Vallejo City Unified School District and began teaching severely emotionally disturbed students at Solano Middle, which has a high rate of "free or reduced-price lunch" kids.
His intense special-education class -- which he described as a "last stop" for some troubled youth -- soon became a model program that was acknowledged district-wide, attracting newly hired teachers who've come to observe and learn.
"I have so many teachers come in ... they walk into the classroom and it's full of kids ... and they can just feel the presence of respect, responsibility ... all the things we nurture with these kids," said Bracco, who rewards students with barbecues and regular trips to his Sebastopol horse ranch.
"My kids seldom miss school," he said. "This is a haven for them."
Robert Russell, the school's principal, described Bracco as "an exceptional teacher who has a genuine concern and interest in the education of our students (who) ... are always engaged, comfortable, disciplined and show Mr. Bracco a level of respect that very few teachers ever achieve.
"He consistently promotes excellent student achievement through highly effective use of the curriculum," Russell added.
The other 2014 California Teachers of the Year are: Timothy Smith, Florin High School, Sacramento; Michael Hayden, Mira Costa High School, Los Angeles County; Linda Horist, Nohl Ranch Elementary School, Orange County; and Jessica Pack, James Workman Middle School, Cathedral City. Torlakson also nominated Smith as California's representative for the National Teacher of the Year competition.
All five will be honored by Torlakson at a gala in Sacramento on Feb. 3.
As the congratulatory banner in his classroom attests, Vallejo Middle School's Angelo 'Ang' Bracco has been named the Solano County Teacher of the Year. On Monday, he was named one of five California Teachers of the Year. (Mike Jory/Times-Herald)
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