SDSU Imperial Valley alumna recognized as Imperial County Teacher of the Year

Amanda Casey, a graduate from the Division of Education’s teaching credential program, received the award from the Association of California School Administrators (ACSA).

Monday, April 29, 2024
A smiling Amanda Casey is photographed sitting on desk in her classroom.
Amanda Casey is the only art teacher within her school district, where she hopes to expand more classes and resources. (Courtesy of Amanda Casey)

Amanda Casey’s fire for creating artwork began in the fourth grade when she first discovered the creative outlet and entered her artwork into competitions. Fast forward into adulthood, she channeled her passion into a profession, graduating from SDSU Imperial Valley’s Division of Education teaching credential program in 2017, then going on to become an art teacher for seventh- and eighth-grade students in Imperial Valley.

This year, Casey, the only art teacher within the Brawley Elementary School District, was awarded the Association of California School Administrators (ACSA) Imperial County Teacher of the Year for 2023-24.

“Since I did not attend the campus as a freshman or transfer student, I did not know what to expect,” said Casey. “But, all of my classmates and professors made me feel so welcomed and they supported me every step of the way that it was such a smooth transition from the beginning.”

The teaching credential program, said Casey, allowed enough flexibility around her schedule to teach as a substitute teacher in the daytime, and attend classes in the evening.

“During my observations and class projects, my colleagues at work were sometimes my professors at school since I received a lot of mentorship from them,” said Casey. “I come from a family of educators, so I knew about the world of teaching from my parents and other family members. And, since art has been such a big part of my life, it was such an easy decision to graduate with a multiple subject credential, and focus on art.”

After earning her teaching credential in 2018, she began teaching art classes at Barbara Worth Junior High School in Brawley. Then, in 2020, with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and the transition to virtual learning, she was pushed to leverage her creativity in an entirely different way. This time, she needed to adapt to teaching art fully online and develop lesson plans geared toward creating digital art portfolios and galleries. 

“I became a ‘tech expert’ because I supported my students during their transition to online classes, but I also helped my colleagues who had any tech issue or question,” said Casey. “Once we began adjusting to online learning, I learned different ways to keep my students engaged and encouraged using technology and art together, especially during such an uncertain and tough time.”

Casey’s interest in melding art and technology motivated her to later earn a master’s degree in educational technology from California State University, Fullerton. 

“Amanda is an amazing asset to the district. She works well with students and is always looking to give back,” said Rauna Fox, superintendent for Brawley Elementary School District. “She goes above and beyond serving as an induction mentor to support new teachers, a site positive behavioral interventions and supports (PBIS) lead, and an education technology mentor. Her recognition as the Association of California School Administrators (ACSA) Imperial County Teacher of the Year is greatly deserved.”

The announcement of the award, she says, was a complete surprise. Shortly after the announcement was made, her students surprised her during a school basketball game, presenting her with flowers on the court. 

“I’ve only been in my position three years and I’ve loved it,” said Casey. “I want to advocate more for the arts within our school district and give my students an outlet to express themselves just like it did with me as a student. Sometimes my students might feel discouraged if their artwork is not ‘perfect,’ but it’s so nice to see their hard work pay off and see how much they have grown over the academic year.”

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