The Warren W. Eukel Teacher Trust recently recognized three East Bay educators as winners of its 2023 awards to outstanding teachers in Contra Costa County.

This year’s recipients are Dana Tarantino, from Northgate High School in Walnut Creek; Kris Berry, from Ellerhorst Elementary in Pinole; and Claire Scott, from Stanley Middle School in Lafayette.

Dana Tarantino

Dana Tarantino. (Courtesy Mt. Diablo Unified School District)

Tarantino has been teaching for more than 25 years. According to a release from the trust, she originally planned to teach economics but changed trajectory after enrolling in some math classes at UC Berkeley, eventually obtaining a math credential. Tarantino has taught math ever since.

“While math may not always be their favorite subject, students at Northgate will tell you that ‘Mrs. T’ has changed the way many of them view the subject,” the trust said in a statement. “Mrs. T makes math both fun and understandable. She always doesn’t teach from a math book. At times, she uses cartoon images and pictures to make her lessons comprehensible and enjoyable.”

Kris Berry

Kris Berry. (Courtesy West Contra Costa Unified School District)

Berry has been an educator for 16 years, currently teaching multiple subjects at Ellerhorst Elementary. His teaching philosophy includes “flexibility, leadership, assertiveness, compassion, cooperation and empathy.”

“Mr. Berry has been a mentor, confidante, and role model for many young students, some of whom have been through the criminal justice system while others have struggled with mental health issues,” the trust said. “Kris stays connected with these students, years after they have moved on from his classroom, and continues to have an impact on their lives. One former student told him, ‘Thank you for helping me become the smart and independent young lady I am today. All it takes is just one person and that person was you.’”

Claire Scott

Claire Scott. (Image via LinkedIn)

Scott has been a teacher for seven years and currently teaches science at Stanley Middle School. The trust said Scott has changed the image of science for many of her students.

“Once a dreaded subject, many students have become so enthused with her way of teaching, that they have gone on to pursue science as a career,” the trust said. “Claire has also taken on the role as the middle school’s athletic director, normally a position assigned to two people. Her goal when students leave her classroom on the first day of school is to make them not only love science but also to love learning.”

Each winner received $10,000. Prizes were presented May 4 at the Eukel Teacher Trust’s 29th annual awards dinner, at the Lafayette Park Hotel.

The Warren W. Eukel Teacher Trust is a community based charity, founded in 1992, that annually awards cash grants to outstanding Contra Costa County teachers. The trust has awarded more than $600,000 to 82 exceptional teachers. More information is available on the organization’s website.