At Westmont’s 2011 Homecoming event, the Education Department began what they hope will be an annual tradition of honoring one or two educators who demonstrate Excellence in Education. The department welcomes nominations of educators who are making a positive impact.


Isao Sugano and Nancy Thurston
Excellence in Education Honorees 2016-2017

(seen here with student teachers – Sierra Robinson ‘16 and Elyssa Daludado ’16)Isao Sugano and Nancy Thurston

The Westmont faculty want to uphold Hope School teachers, Isao Sugano and Nancy Thurston, as models of collaboration. Part of what they have achieved in the classroom, both as a 6th grade team and previously at the 3rd grade, has been made possible by the support they offer to one another. While many in our society continue to imagine teaching as an individual effort—a single adult up front facing a classroom of students—increasing demands on teachers necessitate a higher level of collaboration.  At Westmont we want our candidates to realize that “Teaming” and “Professional Learning Communities” are not simply fashionable buzzwords, but rather an integral part of thriving in the teaching profession.  We celebrate with Isao and Nancy, then, the impact they have had on so many young lives—including the lives of so many Westmont student teachers.  At the same time, we salute them as models of effective teacher collaboration.


Rebecca Leftwich Hodson ‘85

Excellence in Education honoree 2016

Rebecca HodsonRebecca Hodson, has served Providence and the greater Santa Barbara community with her musical talents for years. She is an outstanding educator and director who brings passion and enthusiasm to her classroom, performances, and the stage. Westmont enthusiastically honored Rebecca Hodson '85 with the 2015 Excellence in Education Award.

One of Ms. Hodson's students recently proclaimed, "Ms. Hodson is the most genuine and caring teacher I've ever had. She is always willing, and so often does, take time out of her day after school to help us perfect our music, or just talk to us about life. She delves deep into every piece of music we learn, and is so genuine in how she cares for us and runs her classroom."

A Providence parent noted, "Through dedication to her students and craft, Ms. Hodson creates award-winning choral groups, advances the musical skill and knowledge of each student, and establishes a community that values the beauty in music, musicianship, and worship."


Kids Helping Kids

San Marcos High School, Santa Barbara, CA

Excellence in Education honoree 2015Kids Helping Kids

Kids Helping Kids, an entirely student-run organization, takes what high school students learn from their Advanced Placement Economics courses and makes real world applications to help fellow kids in need. Since 2002, Kids Helping Kids has raised over 1.8 million dollars and has spread its model to five other schools. Their main event is an annual benefit concert which has featured artists such as Tyrone Wells, Sara Bereilles, Switchfoot, Andy Grammer, and Ingrid Michaelson. Teachers Jamie DeVries ’95 and Jill Wilber ’13 feel deeply honored to advise these students of this caliber and energy, "The students behind Kids Helping Kids have donated over 10,000 hours in their senior year to the service of others. They use their combined strengths and talents to produce world class events and make a world class impact.


Mary Osgood

Excellence in Education honoree 2014

Mary OsgoodMary Osgood, longterm educator and Principal of Coastline Christian, was honored with the Excellence in Education Award in Spring 2014. A colleague describes Mary as "a leader in education at Coastline and in our community. She is an example of integrity and excellence in all that she does. But, even more important than that, Mary leads us closer to the Lord and to his son, Jesus Christ in her Godly example of humility, kindness, and love.” The Westmont Education Department recognizes Mary's dedication to children, academics, and Christian education.


Ann Peak

Excellence in Education honoree 2014

Ann Peak photo

Ann Peak was also honored with the Excellence in Education Award in Spring 2014. She has faithfully served as the Coordinator for Certificated Personnel and Human Resources for the Santa Barbara Unified School District for over 20 years. Ann is described as "offering exceptional customer service to every person she meets. She makes new teachers feel welcome and shepherds them through every step of the employment process. Ann is known throughout the District for her responsiveness, her kindness, and her professionalism. As a member of the District's bargaining team, Ann brings historical perspective and common sense to every encounter. Additionally, Ann is an exemplary team member whose actions show that there is no I in team.” The Westmont Education Department recognizes Ann's impact on the school district and larger educational community throughout the years.



Tine ’55 and Jan Rice ’56 Hardeman Family

Excellence in Education honorees 2013

The Hardemans Field a team of Teachers

Hardeman Family


In 2012-13, Westmont awarded the Excellence in Education award to the Hardeman family – a family who produced a dynasty of committed teachers, successful coaches and global Christians that include nine Westmont alumni.

Tine ’55 and Jan Rice ’56 Hardeman devoted their lives to Faith Academy in the Philippines. Tine Jr. ’78 taught and coached both high school and college in the Los Angeles area.  Terri Hardeman ’80 Turner and her husband have taught in Santa Ynez and Lompoc schools. Tom Hardeman ’82 and his wife Maddy, have served as teachers and administrators in Japan and the Philippines. Todd Hardeman ’90 and his wife have taught and coached in Manilla. Katie Hardemen ’04 teaches and coaches in the Los Angeles area. Kelsey Hardeman ’10 began her career teaching and coaching in Japan before moving to Goleta to teach. The Hardeman family represents Westmont’s ideals to make an impact globally.

Krista Beard ‘94
Excellence in Education honoree 2011

Krista Beard

During her years at Westmont, Krista Beard got involved with sidewalk Sunday School on the Eastside and captured a bold vision of the impact a person could make by living, serving, and working in a community. Krista is now living out this vision.

For 18 years, Krista has taught in Goleta elementary schools as a grade level teacher, a science educator, and a reading specialist. About twelve years ago Krista purchased a home in the heart of Old Town. Krista built relationships with her neighbors and within a few years invited neighborhood children to join her for a homework club held in her garage. The homework cub has now grown to include 80 youth from fourth grade through high school. Krista and her growing ministry team also began a summer Vacation Bible School in her backyard. After four summers, they teamed up with a local church, Coastline Community Church of the Nazarene, where the program is now held.

The vision Krista captured as a college student is now in full bloom as she lives, serves, and teaches in a local community. Krista notices that as she seeks to meet the felt needs of the people, it becomes a natural platform to share conversations of faith. Though sometimes messy and complicated, Krista sees God at work in her life.


Casey Roberts ‘80

Excellence in Education honoree 2011

Casey Roberts

Casey Roberts embodies what it means to be a life-long learner and professional educator. Casey started his teaching career 28 years ago at Santa Barbara Christian and he currently teaches juniors and seniors about Economics, US History and AP US History at Carpinteria High School. He has made an impact on his students, colleagues and the community - - he is truly a legend in Carpinteria and was recently honored as Teacher of the Year for the Carpinteria School District.

According to a colleague of 26 years, “Mr. Roberts is one of the finest men I know. I have seen Casey grow into a master educator and adeserving leader of our faculty. He exudes qualities of stability, intelligence and reasonableness that have made him a mighty contributor to campus culture. His classes are vibrant and engaging to the great benefit of his students. His easy-going congeniality makes him perhaps the most popular teacher on our campus with students and faculty alike.”

Over the years, Casey has made an impact at Westmont by giving back to the Westmont community – he has served on numerous panels and our Teacher Advisory Board, taught a class for the department, spoken at our annual Educator Connections, and has hosted numerous student teachers.

Casey has dedicated his professional life to developing future leaders and citizens of this great country.