Follow Your Bliss

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Dr. Harry Edwards, the 49ers Foundation, and the Micron Foundation are honored to recognize 10 educators for superlative achievement in teaching for the sixth year in a row with the Dr. Harry Edwards Follow Your Bliss Award. Teachers are the constant in a student's world of challenges and continue to rise beyond the call of duty to support their students. Through this award, we look to honor educators who lead our future generation with purpose, passion, dedication, and love despite uncertainties and any hurdles they may face.

Thanks to our generous sponsors, each winner will receive a $2,000 stipend for in-classroom materials and resources, with the express purpose of the funds being used in the same school year in which they are awarded. The winners will be invited to an in-person celebration in recognition of their accomplishments.

2023 Winners

FollowYourBliss-16x9-site_Tayo Enna

Matteo Enna is a Kindergarten teacher at Stipe Elementary in San Jose. Matteo's goal is to reach as many people within his community as possible. Through his anti-racist workshops, kindergarten classroom, and district-wide Young Black Scholars Club, he is committed to trailblazing his own path and hopefully inspire the next generation of teachers that will follow their bliss into a classroom of their own one day.

FollowYourBliss-16x9_Kerry Sommer

Kerry Sommer is a first grade teacher at Edenvale Elementary in San Jose. Kerry has been part of the Edenvale community for eight years and looks forward to using her grant to give her students access to "mirrors and windows" – the chance to see themselves reflected in the classroom and give her students diverse perspectives and experiences.

FollowYourBliss-Jaeve Luuhoang

Jaeve Luuhoang is a 6th-8th grade teacher at Sunrise Middle School in San Jose. Jaeve would like to honor her parents with this award as a tribute for the sacrifices they made when coming to the United States to give their children the chance to live and prosper with more than they ever had. Jaeve plans to use her grant to redesign her classroom in a way that encourages harmony with nature, self-discovery, and deep friendships.


Caleb is a 6th-8th grade teacher at Willie Brown Middle School in San Francisco. He teaches a Mastering Cultural Identity Course which draws on African American culture to support students as they explore their identities. Caleb sees his students as holistic individuals, taking care of their needs both inside and outside of the classroom, and helps his students find their voices through writing.

FollowYourBliss-16x9-site_Marc Gordon

Marc Gordon is an 11th-12th grade teacher at San Leandro High School. Marc has been dedicated to the development of today's youth ever since pursuing his undergraduate degree at UC Berkeley. Marc wrote the proposal to add AP Environmental Science at San Leandro High School and established the Eco Club to encourage sustainable behaviors. He hopes to serve as living proof to marginalized youth that they can overcome any barriers in their educational journey.

FollowYourBliss-Jenny Uribe

Jenny Uribe is an 11th-12th grade counselor at Cristo Rey San Jose High School. Cristo Rey High School is composed entirely of first-generation college students, and under Jenny's leadership, Cristo Rey has had 100% of its students be eligible to apply to universities over the last four years. Jenny's commitment to keeping her students at the center of all she does has helped remove barriers in the already difficult college application process.

FollowYourBliss-16x9-site_Katie Berg

Katie Berg is the principal of George C. Payne Elementary School. Katie's focus on social emotional learning is just one of the many tangible ways that she hopes to impact future generations and turn students into well-rounded individuals. With this grant, she is excited to gift every student their favorite book to get them started and inspired for the school's summer reading challenge.

FollowYourBliss-16x9_Jeannette Ramirez

Jeannette Ramirez is the principal of Fiesta Gardens International School in San Mateo, a dual language immersion magnet school dedicated to promoting fluency, literacy and academic excellence in both English and Spanish. Jeannette and the Fiesta Gardens team always put their students first and encourage them to become well-rounded citizens in our society.

FollowYourBliss-16x9-site_Manuel Covarrubias

Manuel Covarrubias is a community educator at Diablo Valley College in Pleasant Hill. Manuel is passionate about encouraging youth to explore science, math, and robotics. He plans to use his grant money to purchase the necessary kits, equipment, and supplies to effectively teach underserved students with the proper software and tools,

FollowYourBliss-Lori Garmany

Lori Garmany is a community educator at Don Callejon Elementary School in Santa Clara. She hopes to use the funds from this grant to help bolster the work she is doing in the Life Skills program, which works with students with moderate-to-severe learning disabilities on functional academics and Iife skills, such as cooking, art, and community safety.

2022 Follow Your Bliss Ceremony Recap

Congratulations to the 2022 Follow Your Bliss Award Winners!


The Dr. Harry Edwards "Follow Your Bliss" grant was created in 2017 by the 49ers Foundation for full-time educators across the Bay Area who exemplify a commitment to their students, families and communities to lead the future generation with purpose, passion, dedication and love.

The award's namesake stems from the first step in Dr. Edwards' Blueprint for Academic Achievement and Success: "Follow Your Bliss - Explore and consider paths that might lead not just to achieving a career interest but to realizing your calling – the educational option and emphasis that for you lies at the confluence of talent, passion, productive potential, and opportunity."

The award honors educators across the San Francisco Bay Area who lead the future generation with purpose, passion, dedication and love. The recipients of this award receive a $2,000 stipend for in-classroom materials and resources for the next academic year, mentorship of the recipients and his or her fellow teachers led by Dr. Edwards, and formal recognition at a Levi's® Stadium event with family and colleagues.


Dr. Harry Edwards' success as an athlete, a sociologist and an activist can be attributed to a strong work ethic, a work ethic he had to develop at a young age growing up in East St. Louis. In 1960, Edwards packed his bags and moved to the west coast to attend San Jose State on an athletic scholarship. Edwards went on to earn the Woodrow Wilson Fellowship and a University Fellowship to Cornell University where he completed a masters and a Ph.D. in sociology.

Dr. Edwards has always been a catalyst for change. In 1968, he was the lead organizer behind the Olympic Project for Human Rights (OPHR). John Carlos and Tommie Smith, Olympic athletes from San Jose State, took part in this movement when they raised their fist in Black Power salute when they received their medals on the Olympic stand during the 1968 Olympics in Mexico.

In 1986, Edwards also began his work with the 49ers developing programming and counseling methods for the entire organization. He worked closely with head coach Bill Walsh to develop the Minority Coaches' Internship program, which was later adopted by the NFL in 1992 and still exists today as the Bill Walsh Diversity Coaching Fellowship.

Dr. Edwards' work in the diversity and inclusion space has made him a leading authority on matters where race, sport, and society intersect, and he is considered a pioneering scholar in the founding of the sociology of sport as an academic discipline.

2022 Recipients


Kelly Galante, teaching for 18 years, is currently a 3rd-grade Montclaire Elementary School teacher. Going beyond the pages of the textbook, Mrs. Galante shows students what it is like to be part of a community that learns and grows together. During the pandemic, Mrs. Galante provided her students with opportunities to engage with each other through virtual meetups to play games or share jokes outside of regularly scheduled class time. Mrs. Galante strives to create a learning environment that encourages student choice and active ownership of their educational path.


Candace Love has been an instrumental music and band teacher for August Boeger Middle School and Mount Pleasant Elementary School Districts for six years. In Love's tenure as a music and band teacher, the music program has increased its student participation every year. While the pandemic may have kept students at home, Love endeavored and found a way to bring meaningful music programs to life during distance learning. When returning to in-person learning, Love had to restructure her classroom due to special restrictions on music and sports due to COVID. This restructure included moving classes outdoors, pivoting some classes from wind instruments to percussion instruments and the guitar, and problem-solving any issues that arose with these changes.


Jacqueline Whitwill is an English Teacher at Bayhill High School in Berkeley. She teaches a neurodiverse student body; including students with learning differences such as dyslexia, ADHD, and those on the autism spectrum. Ms. Whitwill instills confidence in her students by capitalizing on their learning strengths and fostering strong self-advocacy skills. As Head of the Humanities department and a supervising teacher, Ms. Whitwill demonstrates her commitment to all students by going above and beyond; redesigning the curriculum to include rich multi-sensory opportunities and diverse perspectives.


Stephanie Palmeri Farías has worked in education for 29 years and has served the San José Unified School District for the past 25 years. Before moving into an administrative role, Palmeri Farías was a Two-Way Bilingual Immersion (TWBI) middle school teacher and district instructional coach. As principal, Palmeri Farías has ensured that Herbert Hoover Middle School fortify its strong community by supporting students through distance learning and the return to in-person instruction through the use of evidence-based strategies such as restorative practices. No matter the pandemic's challenges, Palmeri Farías continues to fiercely advocate for her students, teachers, staff, and families, creating a culture where everyone feels welcome and respected.


Marlon Richardson is the Director of Education for Hip hop for Change serving San Francisco and Oakland-based schools. Providing visionary leadership through design, implementation, and evaluation, Richardson has facilitated community-based Arts Education Programming for the past eight years serving over 200,000 students. By teaching students about the history and evolution of Hip Hop, Richardson has created culturally responsive opportunities for students to learn about social issues, music production, and STEM education. In response to the pandemic, Richardson also converted the arts educational program into a virtual platform to ensure students still had opportunities to engage while distance learning. Marlon works tirelessly to create and improve the arts program and expand its impact.

Past Recipients


  • Binh Dao, 3rd-4th grade teacher at a Title 1 school
  • Brittney-Lynn Filimoehala-Egan, unit director for the Mid-Peninsula Boys & Girls Club
  • Cory Jong, 6th-grade humanities teacher
  • Michele Lamons-Raiford, hearing American Sign Language (ASL) teacher
  • Emmanuel Stewart, leader and educator in the San Francisco Unified School District


  • Zeke Aguirre, special education teacher at Andrew P. Hill High School
  • Zubida Bakheit, 6th-8th grade math and science teacher at American Indian Model Schools
  • Ashanti Branch, Founder, The Ever Forward Club
  • Tiffany Ho, 5th-grade teacher at St. Bede Catholic School
  • Megan Keefer, principal at California High School


  • Dedra Downing, 2nd-grade teacher at Stipe Elementary
  • Nannette Reeves, 5th-grade teacher at Sylvia Cassell Elementary
  • Dr. LuPaulette Taylor, 12th-grade teacher at McClymonds High School – School of Champions


  • Veronica Miranda-Pinkney, 5th-grade teacher at Walter L. Bachrodt Elementary