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Citrus Heights teacher named among top 5 ‘all-star’ finalists; could win $30k

Shana Pitts teaches at Mesa Verde High School in Citrus Heights.

By Sara Beth Williams–
Citrus Heights high school teacher Shana Pitts has been named by NBC Sports Bay Area as one of five finalists for the 2023 All-Star Teacher Award, which could result in her winning a $30,000 prize.

According to an online bio on NBC Sports Bay Area’s finalists page, Pitts was born in Sacramento and attended several schools in the San Juan Unified School District before becoming a special education instructional aide, and then a credentialed special education teacher.

Pitts began teaching in special education at Mesa Verde High School in 2019 and has taught health, psychology, career exploration, and co-teaches math classes. Pitts is also the Department Chairperson for Special Education at Mesa Verde.

In a video interview posted on the finalists’ page, Pitts mentions that her son’s diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder at 22 months motivated her to pursue a career change into special education. Pitts worked as a special education instructional assistant for nine years before becoming a special education teacher at Mesa Verde.

“I am just so excited,” Pitts said in an interview with the Sentinel, adding that she couldn’t believe it when she discovered one of her students’ parents nominated her.

According to NBC Sports Bay Area, the All-Star Teacher Award has recognized middle and high school teachers in northern and central California for the past 15 years, honoring their “extraordinary dedication to their students in school and in the community.”

Votes for a favorite finalist can be cast online at through June 5, 2023. The winner out of five finalists will be announced live during NBC Sports Bay Area’s telecast of Giants Pregame Live and during an on-field ceremony prior to a San Francisco Giants game in June. The grand prize-winning teacher’s school will receive $30,000.

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