Chenowith teacher of the year

editor@sierrastar.comOctober 15, 2013 

Michelle Chenowith, a 1983 Yosemite High graduate and a 20-year Yosemite math teacher/coach,and the school's athletic director, has been named 2013 Teacher of the Year for Madera County. She was honored at the Oct. 10 Madera County Excellence in Education Awards dinner in Madera.

"I am truly honored," Chenowith said. "Never in a million years would I have thought of receiving this award."

Chenowith said she has received support through the years from her immediate family and her wonderful family at Yosemite High School.

"I joined the Yosemite family more than 30 years ago as a student and have been lucky enough to work with some amazing people throughout that time," Chenowith said.

She gave credit to Steve Raupp, the district's recently retired superintendent, for making a huge impact on her life and career.

"Steve (Raupp) was my coach in high school, my athletic director when I was coaching volleyball, and my principal and superintendent when I was teaching. I've always admired his quiet leadership and open door policy and tried to mirror that.

Chenowith said it was her high school math teacher she had for three years, Mr. Willy, that inspired and motivated her to become a math teacher.

"It's because of Mr. Willy 30 plus years ago that I am who I am today," Chenowith said.

Chenowith, a graduate of California State University, Fresno, started her teaching career at Laton High School where she also served as the varsity volleyball coach. While in college, she was an assistant girls volleyball coach at Yosemite under then varsity head coach Marian Battles.

She came to Yosemite in 1994 to teach math and became the varsity volleyball head coach. Over the next eight years, her teams won outright or tied for the North Sequoia League or Central Sequoia League title five times. Her Badger teams won IF Central Section Division IA Championships in 1997, 2000 and 2001, and she was named league coach of the year seven times.

Chenowith took eight years off from coaching and returned to assist varsity volleyball head coach Sonja Mazaira in 2011, a year the Badgers were again co-champs of the North Sequoia League.

Chenowith said the entire staff at Yosemite is easy to work with and will go the extra mile for students and staff when asked.

"I couldn't ask for a better place to work," Chenowith said.

Lastly, she said had a message for all her past and present students.

"You are the reason I love my job," she said.

Chenowith has been married to her husband Kim for 27 years and the couple have two children, Rachele, 19, and Kaleb, 11.

Art Davis, director of regional system of district and school support for the Madera County Office of Education, won the Administrator of the Year award, and Andres Del Villa-Juarez, head custodian at Reagan Elementary School in Chowchilla, was honored with the Employee of the Year award.

The awards are sponsored by the Educational Employee Credit Union.

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