Independence High's Kip Glazer and Palm Avenue School's Melissa Bradex were honored Tuesday as 2013-14 Kern County teachers of the year.
Marie Sampson, a teacher at Woodrow Wallace Elementary School in the Kernville Union School District, was named an alternate.
The Kern County Superintendent of Schools office selected the trio from a pool of 51 Kern teachers nominated by schools and districts.
The finalists are eligible to apply for California State Teachers of the Year honors later this year.
Ann Georgian, a KCSOS director of school-community partnerships, said a committee of educators and community leaders reviews applications and visits candidates' classrooms.
"It's amazing some of the stories we get," Georgian said.
In the Kern High School District, Glazer implemented a web design program and collaborated with the Boys & Girls Club of Kern County to launch a community computer coding program.
She teaches English, Advanced Placement English Literature and web design courses and is working on a doctorate in learning technologies.
Twenty years ago, the Korean-born educator did not even know English.
"She not only learned English, but got through college and several teaching credentials," Georgian said.
Bradex, whose school is in the Wasco Union Elementary School District, has been teaching and mentoring kids since early childhood -- even as she was growing up in foster homes, according to KCSOS.
In college, the office said, she began writing a children's book chronicling her upbringing in the government system and road to becoming a teacher. It's now published.
Bradex is also credited with searching for new ways to improve her teaching through post-graduate studies.
Sampson teaches young special needs students and, according to KCSOS, "is enthusiastic, energetic and brings a ray of sunshine into the room where children work and learn."