Friday, May 24, 2024

Coronado Unified Teachers of the Year to be Honored at April 18 CUSD Board Meeting

Source: Coronado Unified School District

The Coronado Unified School District Governing Board and staff will celebrate the 2024 Teachers of the Year at the April 18 school board meeting.

“We are thrilled to recognize four amazing educators this year,” said CUSD Director of Human Resources Donna Tripi. The honorees include Coronado Middle School and CUSD District Teacher of the Year, Linda Kullman; Coronado High School, Nicole Belong; Village Elementary, Kelly Fortson; and Silver Strand Elementary, Gisele Renly.

The teachers were peer-nominated and selected for their professional expertise, quality of instruction, student engagement, innovation, and their overall service to students, the district, and the greater community.

Graphic: The Coronado Times,

Linda Kullman, Coronado Middle School & CUSD District

Linda Kullman has served as a teacher in CUSD for 31 years. She teaches elementary and middle school vocal music working with students in grades 2-8 at Village and Silver Strand elementary schools as well as Coronado Middle School.

“Each year, Linda produces an amazing musical and prepares our students for success in programs like CoSA. Linda spreads her passion for the arts to all of her students!” said CMS Principal Brooke Falar.

Longtime colleague Allyson Bans Silva describes Kullman as a true professional who is kind, trustworthy, nurturing, and a lifelong learner. “Linda is native Coronado gal and a product of Coronado Unified elementary, middle and high school. She truly wants what is best for the students in her care and the adults she works with each day. She has given the students of Coronado a love for music and the students have shared their love with the city. Each year her choirs perform at the Hotel Del and Loews Resort. Her Advanced Performing Arts students have put on musical theater performances for the community to come and enjoy,” Bans Silva shared. Kullman goes above and beyond in many ways. Last year she formed the Blankets of Love club at the middle school. She taught students to hand knit and make chunky blankets after school, wrote a grant to fund yarn, and then took students to deliver them to local seniors and to PAWS of Coronado.

Nicole Belong, Coronado High School

Nicole Belong teaches Biology and AP Biology and is the ASB Advisor. She is in her 20th year in the district.

“Nicole is a leader on our campus. She embodies our Islander Pride and pours her love and energy into students, staff, and our community,” shared CHS Principal Karin Mellina.

Belong is respected not only by her CHS colleagues, but also staff and parents within the district. “Ms. Belong has a keen eye for understanding a student’s learning styles and needs. As an amazing communicator, she facilitates multiple learning styles to focus on various ways for students to learn, remember and take the valuable lessons from class and integrate the material into the world.” said Kristine Collins, Coronado Middle School nurse and parent of two CHS students.

Collins added that Belong has boundless energy and encourages not only lifelong learning, but the value of being a good member of society on and off campus. “Ms. Belong’s love of teaching is seen everyday through her smile, electric personality, gentle reminders, kindness and belief in oneself,” she said.

Kelly Forston, Village Elementary School

Elementary reading specialist Kelly Fortson is in her 20th year in CUSD. She has also taught first grade and kindergarten and serves as Village Elementary School’s Anchored 4 Life club coordinator.

“Kelly has been an incredibly consistent, flexible, and effective reading interventionist all year. We are lucky to have her at Village, and this award is well deserved,” said Principal Peter Kuhns.

“Kelly goes above and beyond to support her students and their families. She puts together packets of at-home resources for students so the parents can reinforce the skills she is working on at school; she creates wonderful small group learning environments; she targets each student’s area of need in a personalized way,” said her colleague Ashlee Phair.

Gisele Renly, Silver Strand Elementary School

Gisele Renly has been teaching for 14 years and teaches third grade at Silver Strand Elementary. She is in her fifth year in CUSD. She is described by her principal, Jenny Moore, as “kind, dedicated, supportive, and passionate about guiding her students not only in curriculum but in being the best possible humans they can be in a connected and loving classroom community.”

“Mrs. Renly is an exceptional educator extraordinarily suited to serve our military-affiliated community as a military spouse and parent herself. She has adapted to multiple school sites in different states and has demonstrated flexibility and resilience alongside her students during her career,” said Moore.

Renly’s colleague Jodi Judd said, “Gisele is a master communicator with her families and makes sure each of her students feels safe and valued. She comes in early each school day to make sure her lessons are prepped and ready to go when the students walk through the doors. Her students love and respect her and strive to be their best for her.”

According to Judd, Renly is an engaged and collaborative team player always willing to share her time and ideas. “She likes to be informed of activities, policies and happenings in our school and community.”

All four teachers will be recognized by their school principals at the beginning of the governing board meeting at 4 pm on Thursday, April 18 at the CUSD District Office, 201 Sixth Street. The public, family, colleagues, and friends are invited to come for the special celebration.

Source: Coronado Unified School District

Managing Editor
Managing Editor
Originally from upstate New York, Dani Schwartz has lived in Coronado since 1996. She is happy to call Coronado home and to have raised her children here. In her free time she enjoys reading, exercising, trying new restaurants, and just walking her dog around the "island." Have news to share? Send tips or story ideas to: [email protected]

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