“They represent the very best of the best,” Robles said. “We’re so proud to honor each of them.” Long, 36, who teaches a fourth grade/fifth grade combination class at Carmela Elementary School, said the ceremonymade him “feel like I won the Oscar. “You know, I was telling my partner-teacher the other day that we all just steal each other’s ideas, but then only one person gets the credit,” said Long, who’s been teaching for nine years. “So I’m thrilled to have made it to this level, and I’m just keeping my fingers crossed” for the state contest. Perencevic, 53, said she’s known for some time that this honor was coming – but after the TOY ceremony, “it finally, kind of, feels real right now. Two Whittier-area teachers were among 16 educators named Friday as the “best of the best” in Los Angeles County public schools, and will now compete for top honors in the California Teacher of the Year competition later this year. Michael Allen Long of the South Whittier School District, and Robin Perencevic of the Little Lake City School District had already been named Teacher of the Year at their respective districts in the spring. But on Friday, they made the “Sweet 16” list of 2007-08 Los Angeles County Teachers of the Year, besting 48 other candidates who had also been given top honors at their districts. “These 16 teachers have been judged by their peers as shining examples of this shining profession,” County Superintendent of Schools Darline P. Robles said about the winners, who also each received a $1,000 honorarium at a ceremony in Los Angeles. “I’m just flying at the moment because of the excitement, the energy and the inspiration from the ceremony,” said Perencevic, who teaches at Lakeview Elementary School in Santa Fe Springs. “I have a young class of pre-kindergartners with autism. It’s a rather specialty assignment that isn’t something you necessarily put out there as a frontrunner for Teacher of the Year,” she said. “But that’s what makes this more special,” Perencevic said. “What we do in special education is part of the educational system, and I’m happy to represent them.” Now in its 26th year, the county TOY competition is the largest in the state. State officials are expected to announce five co-winners for California Teacher of the Year in November, only one will advance to the national competition. “Obviously, we’re extremely proud of Robin,” said Little Lake Superintendent Phil Perez. “I’m not surprised, however, because of the excellence she demonstrates in her classroom every day.” Rosa Pope, Long’s former principal at Carmela Elementary, said she always knew Long could be state Teacher of the Year. “But even if he doesn’t go all the way, I’ll always think he’s No. 1.” email@example.com (562) 698-0955, Ext. 3051 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!