Three classified employees with the Ceres Unified School District were honored last week in the annual “Employees Making a Difference” recognition program for being positive, loyal and caring in their service to students.
School districts throughout the county picked the workers who exemplified exceptional service and forwarded nominations to the Stanislaus County Office of Education (SCOE). They were honored Jan. 18 at the Martin G. Petersen Events Center in Modesto.
Among the 29 outstanding classified staff members honored were:
• Kevin Biglieri, a district maintenance specialist;
• Kim Johnson-Dean, a Westport Elementary School library media clerk;
• Elizabeth Thomas, a secretary to the special education program.
Hughson Unified School District honored John Lundell, a Hughson Elementary School bus driver.
“It feels pretty good being recognized,” said Johnson-Dean who started working for CUSD 10 years ago. “It was a complete surprise. You have to be nominated.”
She’s filled the library media clerk at Westport Elementary for the past seven years.
“I’m excited to come to work every day,” Johnson-Dean said. “I see every student in the school at least once a week. They come in for library time. It gives me positive energy. It brings me joy.”
An avid reader, Johnson-Dean has played a vital role in creating a culture of literacy at her school.
“My favorite part of my job is reading to the kids and picking out books for the kids. I’ll ask them what they enjoy and we’ll find a book or series that caters to their interests. I had a lot of boys asking for soccer books during the World Cup.”
Biglieri, a maintenance specialist, has worked for the district for eight years.
Thomas, a level IV secretary in the Special Education Department, has been employed by CUSD for the past 18 years. She’s volunteered with the Soroptimist Stepping Out Against Domestic Violence Walk and Love Ceres Projects.
Seven others were selected to represent Stanislaus County in the California Department of Education’s statewide recognition program.
The representatives (one from each work-category) announced were:
• Teresa Altom, a Hart Ransom Unified School District Maintenance, Operations and Transportation worker, representing the Transportation Services category;
• Deanna Bispo, a Modesto City Schools campus assistant, winning the Security Services category;
• Lesli Hodge, Turlock Unified School District Administrative Secretary II, winner of the Clerical & Administrative Services category;
• Martha Romo, Turlock Unified School District para-professional/bilingual, winner of the Paraprofessional Services category;
• Marcus Turner, Turlock Unified School District athletic trainer, in the Health & Student Services category;
• Hildelisa Villa, Modesto City Schools Nutrition Services Assistant II, winning the Food & Nutrition Services category;
• George Walls, Hickman Community Charter District lead custodian/MOT Director, winner in the Custodial & Maintenance Services category.
Also, during the event, Iliana Maratty of the Stanislaus County Office of Education, received the annual Jane Johnston Civility Award for exemplifying the principles of civility both at work and in her personal life.
“Teachers, principals and superintendents know that the success or failure of any school or district office depends on the competency, passion and hard work of a talented support staff,” said Scott Kuykendall, Stanislaus County Superintendent of Schools. “When I was first hired as an assistant principal, I was told by a veteran principal, ‘There are two people in the district who can make or break you. It is not the superintendent or the board president. It is your secretary and custodian. Take care of them and you’ll be a success.’ That was not only true, but one of the best pieces of advice I ever received.”
Besides SCOE, the Association of California School Administrators (ACSA) Region VII is a partner in the annual recognition program.
Dale Butler contributed to this article.