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Two MDUSD District Teachers of the Year are named as County Teacher of the Year Finalists!
Posted 4/17/23

The Mt. Diablo Unified School District is pleased to announce that both of its 2023-24 District Teachers of the Year have been named as finalists in the Contra Costa County Teacher of the Year competition!


During surprise visits on Monday, April 17th, County Superintendent of Schools Lynn Mackey congratulated Ygnacio Valley HS teacher Joseph Alvarico and Olympic HS teacher Danya Townsend on their selection as two of four finalists, who will compete to be named as County Teachers of the Year in September, when two winners will be announced.


Alvarico and Townsend were named as finalists along with Annalouisa Gonzalez-Ortega, who teaches at Freedom HS in the Liberty Union High School District, and Patricia Ogura, who teaches at Hercules Middle School and Hercules HS in West Contra Costa Unified. 


The four teacher finalists were selected from 21 candidates nominated by their school districts, the Contra Costa County Office of Education and the Contra Costa Community College District. Joining in on the surprise visits were school principals, district administrators, School Board members and parent leaders. Students enjoyed cheering their teachers on and posing for photos with them after they learned the exciting news. 


“Congratulations to the four 2023-24 Teacher of the Year finalists,” Mackey said. “These four teachers are a testament to the teaching profession, and all certainly deserve recognition for the impact they are making in the classroom and in their school communities. Thank you for choosing to be a public-school teacher and making a continued effort to do the best you can for the children in Contra Costa County’s public schools.” 


Joseph Alvarico

Joseph Alvarico (center) stands with (l-r) a 32nd PTA representative, MDUSD Board Member Linda Mayo, YVHS Principal Jonathan Pike, County Superintendent Lynn Mackey, MDUSD Board Member Cherise Khaund and MDUSD Chief of Educational Services Jennifer Sachs at Diablo Valley College on April 17, 2023, where he was leading a field trip for his students to visit the community college campus in preparation for studies there next year.


Joseph Alvarico was born into a family of educators but did not set out on a path to become a teacher until a full-ride college scholarship in his native country, the Philippines, was awarded to him. The scholarship required him to work as a teacher for at least one year. With a short-term commitment in mind, he became a teacher intern in the 1990s and has been “hooked” on teaching ever since.


After immigrating to the United States, Alvarico has spent multiple years instructing middle school and high school students in MDUSD. With his on-the-job experience in the tech industry, he weaves real world experiences into his lessons. Teaching teenagers, being a lifelong learner, and building a community with his students is the secret sauce that has turned his robotics and yearbook students into design and engineering professionals. While helping underserved students for the past 23 years, Alvarico strives to show them their potential and the possibilities available when they leave high school.  


Danya Townsend

Danya Townsend (holding flowers) stands with (l-r) MDUSD Chief of Educational Services Jennifer Sachs, MDUSD Board Member Cherise Khaund, Olympic HS Principal Courtney Lyon, County Superintendent Lynn Mackey and MDUSD Board Member Linda Mayo at Olympic HS, where she was surprised while teaching her Leadership Class on April 17, 2023.


As a physical education (PE) and leadership teacher, Danya Townsend uses PE and the weight room as a safe space for her students and staff members. Teaching at Olympic High School means that traditional schools were not a good fit for her students, but she has found they all need to be engaged and a feeling of success. She uses this knowledge to find new ways to re-engage them through weightlifting, exercise, and multimedia projects that are transferable to the workforce. In her leadership class, she incorporates philanthropy and giving-back into activities they plan. Townsend’s passion to connect with students has led to projects outside of the classroom too.


She developed a partnership with the Contra Costa Food Bank to support a school pantry and coordinates with the Red Cross to host blood drives. She interacts with her leadership team, colleagues, and students with the same philosophy, to empower and be empowered. From research to reflection, Townsend is “all-in” when it comes to showing her students that they matter. 


You can read more about Alvarico and Townsend here


Notes regarding eligible participants: 

• 18 of the 19 Contra Costa County school districts and CCCOE are participating in this year’s TOY program. 

• Each year, one instructor from Contra Costa Community College District is submitted to the TOY program for their outstanding body of work with their designated college. The representative rotates each year between Diablo Valley College, Los Medanos College, and Contra Costa College. These instructors do not compete in the State Teacher of the Year competition but will be recognized at the Contra Costa County Teacher or the Year Celebration. 

• Due to the larger number of students and teachers in their districts, the Mt. Diablo, San Ramon Valley, and West Contra Costa unified school districts are allowed to submit two TOY candidates. 


For more information on the Contra Costa County Teacher of the Year program, visit