CalRTA Awards Teacher Grants to Six Local Educators


Six local educators were the lucky winners in recent teacher grant drawings by both the State CalRTA Teacher Grant program and local CalRTA Division 33.  Over 6,000 California public school teachers submitted their applications in CalRTA’s last round of state teacher grants, with 35 names randomly drawn to receive $100, “no strings attached.”   Another 160 educators from Hemet, San Jacinto, Menifee, Nuview and Romoland School Districts applied for the four local CalRTA Division 33 grants.

Two teachers – Jessica Sotelo from West Valley High School in Hemet, and Heather Goka from Lisa Mails Elementary School in Murrieta – each received a $100 check from the California Retired Teachers Association State Teacher Grant program.  Then each teacher was pleasantly surprised when CalRTA Division 33 matched their $100 check with a crisp $100 bill, for a total of $200.   

Jessica Sotelo West Valley HS, State Winner

Jessica Sotelo, who teaches AVID 11, and IB Psychology at West Valley, said, “I am so grateful to have received the STATE teacher grant. I wasn’t expecting our local division to match the state grant with another $100, so that was an amazing surprise! I plan to use the funds to restock my student supply/resource station with such items as lint rollers, Kleenex, band-aids, hygiene products, mints, and granola bars to provide to students if they need a snack during the school day.”

Heather Goka, a third grade teacher at Lisa Mails Elementary School said, “I plan to use the $200 for basic supplies like paper and markers as well as some new classroom decorations to make the room feel warmer and create a more positive learning environment for my students.  Thank you!”

Heather Goka, Lisa Mails Elementary School, State Winner

Another four $100 teacher grant winners were randomly selected at the April 9th luncheon meeting of CalRTA Division 33.  Nicole Hernandez, third grade teacher at Megan Cope Elementary School in San Jacinto, plans to put the funds toward improving her students’ math skills.  “Thank you for the $100 grant!” Hernandez said.  “I plan on using the money on math manipulatives for my classroom, specifically fraction cubes. Many of my students can struggle with the concept of equal piece and how a larger denominator means a smaller piece. These manipulatives will benefit them greatly. “ 

Nicole Hernandez, Megan Cope Elementary

Teri Perez, who teaches Moderate and Severe Special Education classes at DeAnza Elementary School in San Jacinto, says, “Thank you so much for this $100 grant. I plan to use the money to buy some laminating materials, some incentives for my classroom, and Play Doh!  Laminating things allows reuse, incentives help my students remain motivated to work hard on their goals and Play Doh is one of their favorite items to decompress with. Thank you again from me and the De Anza Tigers!”

Teri Perez, De Anza Elementary

Tahquitz High School teacher Anne Rizzacasa, who teaches a wide variety of science classes at her school site in Hemet, says, “Thank you so much for the support. I will be using the funds to purchase an electric vehicle kit from Forward Education. The kit guides students to build computer science skills while addressing energy solutions to address climate change.”

Anne Rizzacasa, Tahquitz High School

Holly Baird, a Nuview Elementary School Kindergarten teacher, received the exciting news of her $100 grant on her birthday.  “I was super excited to receive this classroom money on my birthday!” Baird says.  “I plan to buy more ELA and math games and activities because I only have a few.  I also want to buy batteries for my voice amplifier. The kids are going to love this! Thank you!”

Holly Baird, Nuview Elementary School

One of CalRTA’s missions is to support public education and awarding 16 $100 teacher grants to local teachers each year is just a part of that mission.  Division 33 also offers 11 $1000 scholarships to local high school seniors who plan to become public school teachers.  For more information about CalRTA, go to or


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