Excellence in Education honors school employees, teachers, admins
For The Madera Tribune
From left are Elizabeth J. Dooley, President and CEO, Educational Employees Credit Union; Pedro “Pete” Ramos, Chowchilla Elementary School District (Employee of the Year); Richele Hedberg, Chowchilla Elementary School District (Teacher of the Year); Oracio Rodriguez, Madera Unified School District (Administrator of the Year); Cecilia A. Massetti, Madera County Superintendent of Schools.
A reception preceded the 13th Excellence in Education award ceremony sponsored by the Educational Employees Credit Union (EECU). The event, held at the Madera County Superintendent of Schools Conference Center on Oct. 10, honored school employees, administrators, and teachers from Madera County school districts.
Those honored were:
2019 Classified Employee of the Year: Pedro “Pete” Ramos, head custodian, Fairmead Elementary School, Chowchilla Elementary School District.
“I love my job,” Ramos said, “and I love doing my job. Working with 550 students each day has taught me to be more caring, more compassionate, and much more patient. I learn from them each and every day.”
Clasified employees of the year finalists were Charles Jason Alexander, safety officer, Jack G. Desmond Middle School, Madera Unified School District; Marie Astorga-Smith, school secretary, Oak Creek Intermediate, Bass Lake Joint Union Elementary School District; Ruben Carlin, lead custodian, Ranchos Middle School, Golden Valley Unified School District; Angelica Perez, translator/interpreter, student programs and services, Madera County Superintendent of Schools; Xeng Yang, IT specialist, district-wide, Chawanakee Unified School District.
2019 Administrator of the Year is Oracio Rodriguez, principal, Madera South High School, Madera Unified School District.
“For me, the purpose of education is to empower people to improve their lives and their communities,” Rodriguez said. “Having achieved a relative level of academic, career, and personal success as a result of an education in Madera instilled in me a moral imperative to expand this opportunity as broadly to others as I have the capacity to do. Therefore, my mission as an educational leader is to create the conditions for a transformational learning experience for all students.”
2019 Administrator of the Year finalists were Eric Griffin, principal and director of English learner services, Stephens Elementary School, Chowchilla Elementary School District; Karen Higginbotham, district nurse, district-wide, Golden Valley Unified School District; Joannie Lumbra, business manager, district office, Chawanakee Unified School District; Kathleen Murphy, principal, Oakhurst Elementary School, Bass Lake Joint Union Elementary School District; Tina Najarian, coodinator of early learning support services, educational services, Madera County Superintendent of Schools.
2019 Teacher of the Year: Richele Hedberg, kindergarten teacher, Stephens Elementary School, Chowchilla Elementary School District.
“I would like to dedicate a special thanks to my amazing students,” she said. “It has been inspirational to follow your journey from kindergarten through high school, to career achievements and parenthood. I will be forever grateful for the privilege of learning together and also for the honor of being your student. Thank you for being my teacher and helping to preserve the child in me!”
2019 Teacher of the Year finalists: Victoria Baughman, elementary teacher, Webster Elementary School, Golden Valley Unified School District; Rebecca Brokaw, Spanish teacher, Yosemite High School, Yosemite Unified School District; Stephanie L. Janzen, curriculum and instruction teacher on special assignment, Dixieland Elementary School, Madera Unified School District; Elizabeth Whitcomb, specialized academic instructor, Minarets High School, Chawanakee Unified School District.
Cecilia A. Massetti, Madera County Superintendent of Schools, said, “Tonight, we showcase our honorees and the many contributions they have made to enhance the lives of our children. Our honorees are often “unsung heroes” and tonight we shine a light on their achievements and see firsthand how they inspire and teach students every day. Our award winners are home-grown and outstanding role models with ‘miles and miles of heart’.”
Elizabeth J. Dooley, president and CEO, Educational Employees Credit Union, said, “EECU has proudly sponsored the Madera County Superintendent of Schools Excellence in Education awards program since 2007. This event is a wonderful way to acknowledge the efforts and contributions of the many fine educators who guide our students toward a bright future.”