Teachers, Administrators, Community Leaders Celebrate NapaLearns Fellows of the Year

New Tech High’s Lisa Gottfried Named NapaLearns Fellow of the Year

Peg Maddocks, PhD, Executive Director, NapaLearns
Published on February 5, 2020

4 Napa Valley Unified District teachers honored at 2nd annual event

On Wednesday, February 5th, NapaLearns honored four Napa County teachers who earned their Master of Education degrees in Innovative Learning from Touro University California and then went on to lead change in their schools that resulted in significant impact on their students. The teachers recognized were all from the Napa Valley Unified School District: Lisa Gottfried, who teaches digital media, was named NapaLearns Fellow of the Year and received a $1000 grant for her class at New Tech High School.

Three additional teachers were recognized for their work: Tammy Lee, American Canyon Middle School math and robotics teacher; Scott Marsden, American Canyon High digital media and government teacher; and Kelley Miller, Silverado and Redwood Middle Schools instructional coach. Each of these teachers received $250 for their classrooms.

Tammy Lee, American Canyon Middle School; Kelley Miller, Silverado and Redwood Middle Schools; Lisa Gottfried, New Tech High; Scott Marsden, American Canyon High

NapaLearns, Touro University partnership

The NapaLearns Fellows program is the result of a partnership between NapaLearns and Touro University California’s Graduate Studies program. NapaLearns subsidizes 50% of the tuition cost for any Napa County public school teacher who meets the admissions requirements and completes the 12-month program. More than 160 elementary, middle and high school teachers from Calistoga Joint Unified, Howell Mountain Elementary, Napa Valley Unified and St. Helena Unified school districts have been awarded fellowships.

One out of three teachers in Napa County with master’s degrees have earned them from the Touro Graduate School of Education with the support of NapaLearns. Since its inception in 2010, NapaLearns has invested more than $800,000 in this program.

Mario Piombo, NapaLearns; Lisa Gottfried, NapaLearns Fellow of the Year; Pamela Redmond, Touro University California; Peg Maddocks, NapaLearns

“The NapaLearns Fellows program prepares Napa Valley teachers to explore how to use digital tools and media to support student learning and prepare them for the future workforce,” said Peg Maddocks, executive director of NapaLearns. “The teachers honored this evening have used their degrees as springboards to inspire their schools to adopt new technologies and innovative practices to improve student performance.”

Teachers were nominated by their principals or they self nominated. They were evaluated based on criteria that included how they have continued to innovate in their classrooms, how they have impacted their students’ successes and what changes/improvements have been adopted in their schools or districts as a result of their leadership.

“The reason this partnership has been so powerful is because the business community, schools and Touro all began with the same vision about how to prepare students for where life will lead them,” added Dr. Pamela Redmond, professor and chair of graduate studies in the Graduate School of Education at Touro University. “The Innovative Learning master’s degree isn’t an ‘ivory tower’ program looking at philosophies of teaching. It is anchored in action research conducted in real classrooms looking for effective practices. It is designed to help teachers develop an innovator’s mindset about what students need to know to be ready for the future and to help them explore new designs for learning to support that work.”

Belia Ramos delivers inspirational keynote 

Belia Ramos, Napa County Supervisor, District 5, delivered an inspirational keynote at the event. As a business owner, a mother, a law professor and board supervisor, Ms. Ramos spoke about the commitment that NapaLearns has made to education and the role that teachers play in the lives of our children. She characterized teachers as “tour guides for our children” whose minds are consumed with creativity and curiosity, and that it is our teachers who are the ones that shepherd them through to what is possible.

Napa County Supervisor, Belia Ramos; Julie Meyer-Houston, American Canyon Middle School; Peg Maddocks, NapaLearns; Mayor Leon Garcia

“I’m really touched by the fact that NapaLearns has brought this level of engagement to educators into our schools, giving them the tools and resources they need to integrate what 21st century learning means to our children,” Ms. Ramos stated. “NapaLearns is the result of a vision that has been carried forward and the NapaLearns Fellows program is proof of what can be accomplished in our classrooms.”

Gottried recognized for student leadership

Ms. Lisa Gottfried was recognized for creating an environment where the learning was 100% student led and implemented. She incorporated a strong program for student leadership by providing her class with the opportunity to create, manage, and lead two high profile projects: The Napa Lighted Art Festival and the Global Create-a-thon. All deadlines, decisions and running of the class were done by students.

Chuck McMinn, NapaLearns Board Chair; Lisa Gottfried, NapaLearns Fellow of the Year

Gottfried encouraged her colleagues, “I applied for the Innovative Learning program so that I could be with the cool people doing cool things. All it takes is a phone call or email to reach out to businesses, experts or leaders in their fields, not just here but around the world. People do not say no to teachers. Use it to your advantage and create an amazing network. We need to get out of our siloes and have teachers and their students talking with one another to solve the problems of the world.”  

This event was the second annual Fellow of the Year celebration. Chuck McMinn, NapaLearns co-founder and board chairman summarized, “We couldn’t be happier with this partnership with Touro University. It is probably one of the most significant things that NapaLearns has done because through these teachers, we are touching the lives of thousands of kids and providing career opportunities and job satisfaction to the teachers who have participated.”

About NapaLearns
NapaLearns is a nonprofit with a bold mission – to equip every student in Napa County with the skills they need to thrive in college, careers and their community. NapaLearns has invested millions of dollars in innovative public education programs that improve graduation rates, boost academic achievement and ensure that students have the skills to compete in the workforce of tomorrow. Learn more at

About Touro University California and the Graduate School of Education

Touro University California is a nonprofit, independent graduate institution of higher learning founded in 1997 on three core Judaic values: social justice, the pursuit of knowledge and service to humanity. The Graduate School of Education promotes innovation and community partnerships and offers numerous teacher credentials and master’s degrees in accelerated and flexible formats. Its programs prepare educators to meet the needs of a diverse educational community and the evolving future of education. To learn more, visit or call 707-638-5971.