ENCINITAS — Last month, San Dieguito Union High School District officials announced its 2020 district awards for its meritorious teachers and classified employees.
Earl Warren Middle School teacher Amy Olson and Cindy Skeber, executive assistant to the associate superintendent of business services, were named Teacher of the Year and Classified Employee of the Year, respectively.
“Congratulations to Amy Olson and Cindy Skeber, and thank you for your dedicated service to our students,” said SDUHSD Superintendent Dr. Robert Haley. “Your leadership, work ethic and dedication are just a few of the many attributes that make me proud that you two are representatives of the San Dieguito Union High School District.”
As district winners, both Olson and Skeber will now advance as finalists in the county’s Employee of the Year and Teacher of the Year programs, administered by the San Diego County Office of Education.
Olson is in her fifth year teaching science at Earl Warren and her 10th year overall in the district. As the chair of the science department, Olson teaches eighth-grade science while also leading the Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) elective for seventh- and eighth-graders.
“I’m able to do a lot of the things I do in the classroom because of the peers I work with, especially at Earl Warren,” Olson said. “The community of teachers there are really great as far as supporting students and allowing a lot of teachers to understand their students. It’s a small school, so we communicate that it’s about the students pretty well, and that benefits all of the teachers at the site.”
Growing up in San Diego, Olson comes from a family of teachers that includes her mother, a former elementary school teacher, and her brother, a professor at Cal Poly.
Olson’s early love of science and experience as a lab tech at Yale and Rockefeller University coupled with the creativity that comes with teaching students led Olson to return to San Diego where she enjoys the ability to teach middle school students.
“I really loved middle school-aged kids because it is a great time to reach science with them and to do hands-on work,” Olson said. “I try to plan my instruction and classroom interactions around students. I don’t want to put a lot of pressure on students as far as grades, I want them to show what they’re learning in a lot of different ways. I bring in a lot of quirky science things that might make kids interested about how things work and not just what’s in the textbook and on standards. A lot of kids can feel successful in my class.”
Skeber is approaching her 20th year in the district in 2021. The Pasadena native began working part-time as an instructional assistant at Earl Warren Middle School before moving to a similar role and eventual full-time position at the district office.
“I feel very honored, shocked and surprised to be selected,” Skeber said. “There were a lot of very deserving people in the district, so it’s not an easy choice for a panel to make.”
As the executive assistant to Associate Superintendent of Business Services Tina Douglas, Skeber performs a broad range of duties, including managing the department’s budget, taking calls and answering questions from the community and other educational entities, managing the business services calendar and planning staff meeting, calendaring and supporting the district quarterly safety meetings, managing all functions of the Independent Citizens Oversight Committee for Prop AA bond projects, processing public records requests, building issues and work orders, processing district claims and accumulating contracts from purchasing and facilities planning sides.
“I just feel honored to be chosen,” Skeber said. “I’ve worked with some great people and had great mentors and bosses in this district. I’ve been lucky, so it’s been nice to be able to represent this district.”