Desert Sands Unified School District Teachers Get Special Recognition

Desert Sands Unified School District Teachers Get Special Recognition


Two schools within the Coachella Valley are in full celebration mode after ‘Teachers of the Year’ were announced. In fact, the Riverside County Office of Education recognized four out of 16,000 teachers, within the county, as teachers of the year; of the four, two are Desert Sands Unified School District teachers.

Jodi Fercera, a teacher at Palm Desert Middle School, and Tom Buck, a teacher at Indio High School, were both recognized as 2020 Riverside County ‘Teachers of the Year.’

“I’m extremely excited. I don’t know what to say because I really didn’t think that I would be one of the teachers of the year,” Jodi told NBC Palm Springs.

Judy D White, the Riverside County Superintendent of Schools, broke the good news to both teachers during class. She praised them for their commitment to their students and highlighted some of their best accomplishments. Jodi transformed a foods classroom into an imaginative learning environment that resembles a French bistro and puts students in leadership roles for catering and baking assignments. From baking to life skills, Jodi Fercera has dedicated her life to teaching.

“For all the years that I did honoring of students, for our academic recognition…is pretty over the top to be on the other side,” Jodi added.

A side that only one other teacher within the Desert Sands Unified School District gets to be on. Tom Buck, a Broadcast Journalism teacher at Indio High School, developed and leads the Institute of Media Production Arts and Creative Technology (IMPACT) at Indio High School. This program teaches digital literacy to 200 students each year.

“I got flooded with way too many people, and then I started tearing up and it was really emotional. It was a great way to start ending the year,” Buck told NBC Palm Springs.

An honor, Mr. Buck says, he will remember forever.

“The award itself means a lot. I think it emphasizes the fact that people that didn’t have a place to belong, belong…and to know that I played a role in that, that means the world to me.”

Furthermore, it is one that has surely made students and faculty members very proud. Mary Perry, the Public Information Officer for the Desert Sands Unified School District says, this is an incredible feat.

“To have one is just incredible. To have two, is just over the moon. It’s a monumental day. What a day to end the year,” she said.


Both Jodi Fercera and Tom Buck are now in the running to be recognized on a state level. NBC Palm Springs wishes them the best of luck!