Dittmar NameD SCC Teacher of the Year

Dittmar Named SCC Teacher of the Year
Posted on 08/09/2021
Mark Dittmar

Santa Cruz Valley Unified School District No.35 is proud to announce Mr. Mark Dittmar was named Santa Cruz County Teacher of the Year, at the County’s annual ceremony held Friday, July 30, 2021.

Dittmar, an art teacher at Mountain View Elementary, has been a teacher for SCV35 for more than 22 years, also recently announced the 20-21 SCV35 District Teacher of the Year at the District’s annual Welcome Back Celebration.

Every year, the District sends nomination forms to families and staff. In March, the District received close to 200 nominations for staff, administrators and teachers, several of which were for Mr. Dittmar. One nomination, submitted by fellow teacher, Josie Tanori, read “Mark is someone who everyone can learn from, his dedication and ability to create fun and interesting teaching methods for students during distance learning.”

When schools quickly transitioned to virtual learning last year due to COVID-19, Dittmar sought out an assistant art teacher to help capture students’ attention during online lessons. Secondary the Monkey, a talking hand puppet, filled the position.

“I began using the monkey as an occasional teaching aide years ago, but it wasn’t until the pandemic and remote learning that the need to keep students engaged became vital. That’s when Secondary’s comic voice and personality developed. He is a combination of people from my old neighborhood (and a bit of me),” said Dittmar.

Even parents were captivated by Secondary’s personality and charm. “He incorporated humor and interest into his lessons by using his puppet Secondary as a VERY effective teaching tool. Mr. Dittmar does not only know(s) how to teach art, but he knows how to teach art to KIDS. And knowing how to encourage creativity, wonder and talent in kids through art is not as easy as one might think,” wrote Mountain View parent Haydee Montemayor who submitted a nomination.

Not only did Montemayor nominate him, but also submitted a nomination on behalf of her son Angelo. “I chose Mr. D to be Teacher of The Year because he is creative. He taught me how to draw, showed me how to do “what its”, taught me about artistic people, and showed me how to shade and shadow. The best thing he taught me is how to shade and shadow because that’s how I learned how to make pictures come to life. I also chose him because I miss him. I hope he’s my art teacher again.”

Mr. Dittmar was one of twenty teachers from across Santa Cruz County who were honored at the annual ceremony by Superintendent of Schools Alfredo Velasquez’s office, and ultimately, he and Secondary took home first place.

Mr. Dittmar will represent Santa Cruz County in competition for the Arizona Rural School Teacher of the Year via zoom on Friday, August 13, 2021.