Arcadia Unified’s Mike Danielson Named 1 of Only 16 LA County Teachers of the Year

Out of over 70,000 teachers in Los Angeles County, Arcadia Unified middle school music teacher Michael Danielson is one of only 16 teachers to be recognized as a 2019-20 Los Angeles County Teacher of the Year. 

The Los Angeles County Office of Education (LACOE) hosts an annual Teachers of the Year program designed to commend the important work teachers do in shaping the minds of the future. Districts from across LA County participate by selecting a Teacher of the Year to represent them in the LACOE program. 

“When I said that this [being named a Teacher of the Year] was one of my dreams, I was not kidding,” shared Danielson at a recent Arcadia Unified Board of Education meeting where he received recognized for this honor. “As the years passed, I saw pictures of the Teachers of the Year displayed in the District Office and wanted to earn the right to have my picture join theirs,” said Danielson.

Danielson, a 40-year teaching veteran with 32 years spent as a music teacher at First Avenue Middle School, was selected as Arcadia Unified’s 2019-20 Teacher of the Year, earning him entrance into LACOE’s county-wide competition.

“Our process for selecting a Teacher of the Year for our school district starts with recognizing it’s a really difficult task because we have a world-class staff here,” Arcadia Unified Superintendent Dr. David Vannasdall explained during Danielson’s Board of Education recognition. “You know you made a great selection when the teacher’s name is met with nothing but positive words. Mike has brought everything he has every day to the classroom and has left his students’ lives better than when he found them,” said Dr. Vannasdall.

Entrants into the LACOE program are required to complete an extensive, rigorous application. Finalists from the application screening are invited to do a panel interview from which the top 16 educators are selected as LA County Teachers of the Year.  

“I really feel like this [teaching] is what I was made to do, and I know not many people get to say they’ve lived out their dream or find their place,” expressed Danielson. “I’m truly accepting this on behalf of all of the teachers in Arcadia. This really is an amazing place to live and work.”

Through his robust career, Danielson has taught and mentored over 10,000 students, doing so with a true passion for connecting with them through music. 

“Teachers change lives, far more than providing tasks for success or passing on lore,” said Danielson. “We are tasked with shaping future generations through our relationships. No time in history has relied on us [teachers] as much as it does now.”

Distinguished teachers like Danielson demonstrate why Arcadia Unified was recently named in the top 1% of school districts with the best teachers in America, California, and Los Angeles by Correspondingly, Arcadia Unified was also named by Niche as being in the top 1% of the best school districts in America, California, and Los Angeles. For more about the LACOE Teachers of the Year program, visit and for more information on the Arcadia Unified School District, visit