Educators, admins, employees lauded during ceremony
For The Madera Tribune
The Madera County Excellence in Education award ceremony honored employees, administrators, and teachers.
The Thursday event was different from years past. With just 100 attendees, the ceremony was much more intimate, yet just as elegant.
This year marked the 15th event sponsored by the Educational Employees Credit Union and the Madera County Superintendent of Schools.
2021 Classified Employee of the Year
Joshua Lozano, Utilities IIIA, North Fork School, Chawanakee Unified School District
Lozano has worked with Chawanakee Unified School District for eight years. A North Fork native, he is adamant about giving back to his community and setting a good example for the students with whom he works.
“I want them to know that life is better than what they might see at home every day,” he said. “Oftentimes, I am the ‘parent’ to a student whose own caregivers cannot show them the realities of the path they are choosing.”
Lozano goes above his normal duties by coaching sports, performing yard duty, and engaging students during their recess with games of basketball and dodge ball.
“In the end, it’s all about developing trust,” he said.
Lozano has a rapport with students that many others do not. Some have come to him during dark times, which he has helped them to navigate.
“They can always count on me,” he said. “I strive to teach the importance of an education, even though I am not a teacher in their classroom. I want to be a role model and demonstrate the meaning of hard work and dedication. I want the students to know that they are noticed and I hope I can make an impact in their lives.”
Lozano takes great pride in his work and is honored to have been selected as the Madera County School Employee of the Year. He thanks his family for their support and his coworkers for seeing the value in what he does for students on a daily basis.
2021 Employee of the Year Finalists:
• Dana Aldridge, Cafeteria Assistant, Liberty High School, Golden Valley Unified School District
• Edgar Dayuday, Lead Maintenance Custodian, Madera County Superintendent of Schools
• Sandra Luna, Bilingual Liaison, Oakhurst Elementary School, Bass Lake Joint Union Elementary School District
• Megyn Porter, Opportunity Center Aide/Office Assistant, Stephens Elementary School, Chowchilla Elementary School District
• Imelda Puentes, Paraprofessional/Special Education, Jack G. Desmond Middles School, Madera Unified School District
2021 Administrator of the Year
Steffan John, Chief Technology Officer, Bass Lake Joint Union Elementary School District
John has worked with Bass Lake Joint Union Elementary School District for eight years. He noted that his responsibility as a technology leader is to empower all sectors of education.
“My goal is to keep the organization growing, moving forward and connected to our community,” he said. “Solving technology issues and providing streamlined solutions is at the core of what I am here for. I could not have been successful without the team effort of everyone working together for the common goal: to enhance learning and facilitate student success.”
John’s forward thinking prepared his district for the technological needs of distance learning before COVID-19 was even known. He helped the district adopt Google Workspace and get Chromebooks into the hands of all students, pre-COVID, so the transition to remote learning was seamless.
John believes it is his duty to be the driving force for change. To do that he empowers staff and students with knowledge without making them feel inferior.
“IT is not just someone behind the scenes pushing buttons, but an example of molding the culture of technology and its applicability in providing a 21st Century education,” he said. “I am fortunate to have the opportunity to set the bar and will continue to make strides for our staff, students, and community. This award is dedicated to all the technology professionals in education that spent countless hours making sure our staff, students, and communities had the tools to continue learning during these unprecedented times.”
2021 Administrator of the Year Finalists:
• Rhonda Corippo, Principal, Chawanakee Academy and Mountain Oaks, Chawanakee Unified School District
• Maygualida Falcon, School Counselor, Career and Alternative Education Services, Madera County Superintendent of Schools
• Dr. Michael Grossman, School Counselor, Liberty High School, Golden Valley Unified School District
• Tracey Moore, Director of Business Services, Chowchilla Elementary School District
2021 Teacher of the Year
Jennifer Bodine, Teacher, Special Education, Oak Creek Intermediate School, Bass Lake Joint Union Elementary School District
Teaching is not Bodine’s first career. She earned a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering with a Minor in Mathematics.
However, Bodine feels teaching is her calling. She has worked as a special education teacher with Bass Lake Joint Union Elementary School District for six years. Building relationships with students is a priority for her.
“Making connections is where learning begins,” she said. “Everybody needs to know that someone cares about them and believes in them.”
Bodine strives to find a ‘super power’ in each of her students.
“As a special education teacher, my students often arrive in my classroom feeling defeated by failure and overwhelmed because learning is hard,” she said. “I emphasize in my classroom that the only failure is not trying. My reward comes when my students feel confident enough to try hard things despite the risk of failure.”
Bodine finds what students are good at and uses that ‘super power’ to teach them to believe in themselves. She feels that her students bring out the best in her and she does the same for them. She is grateful to each of her students for sharing all of their amazing talents and gifts.
She appreciates her coworkers for their trust, guidance, and the opportunity to do what she loves. Bodine is grateful to her family for supporting her dream of becoming a special education teacher and is honored to have been recognized with this award.
2021 Teacher of the Year Finalists:
• Kevin Feramisco, Teacher, English Language Arts, Liberty High School, Golden Valley Unified School District
• Kiley Hansen, Teacher, Physical Education, Martin Luther King, Jr. Middle School, Madera Unified School District
• Lincoln Pascale, Career Technical/Trade Instructor, Pioneer Technical Center, Madera County Superintendent of Schools
• Joey Retton, Teacher, English, Chowchilla Union High School, Chowchilla Union High School District
• Tiffany Romine, Academic Coach/Intervention Teacher, Stephens Elementary School, Chowchilla Elementary School District
• Carrie Waltner, Teacher, North Fork School, Chawanakee Unified School District
“We award honors to special individuals who demonstrate their passion and commitment to children and their families in our schools,” said Dr. Cecilia A. Massetti, Madera County Superintendent of Schools. “We celebrate the accomplishments of educators and instructional staff from throughout Madera County who make a difference on a daily basis. 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 we shine a light on their achievements and see how they inspire and teach students every day.”
“Those who work in the field of education go above and beyond to help their students succeed,” said Elizabeth J. Dooley, president and CEO, Educational Employees Credit Union. They are committed to providing students with a quality education and the best school experience possible — whether in person or through online learning. Congratulations to all of the nominees, finalists, and winners on this well-deserved recognition of their commitment to their students and their profession.”