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CUSD recognizes stellar employees at a distance
CUSD employees honored
Bob Elms, Cheryl Brewer, Elizabeth Holtan and Renee Mello were among the Ceres Unified School District employees honored last week.

Unable to recognize its Certificated Employees of the Year in-person at its May 7 meeting due to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, the Ceres School Board honored a total of 23 employees remotely via a Zoom call.

 “We’re honored to have you working in our school district,’ Board President Mike Welsh told the honored employees. “And we’re very proud of all of you.”

“You are the rock stars, and we just appreciate all that you’re doing,” added CUSD Deputy Superintendent Denise Wickham.

La Rosa Elementary second grade teacher Bob Elms was named Ceres Unified School District’s “Certificated Employee of the Year” for the PreK-3 grades level.

Said Principal Lori Mariani said Elms “comes to work daily with a smile on his face and literally bounces through the doors with positive energy, shouting, ‘Let’s change lives today, people!’ I think his greatest quality is his ability to connect with all of his students. He has managed to conquer adulthood yet not forget what it is like to be 8 years old.”

Hidahl Elementary sixth grade teacher Cheryl Brewer was named CUSD’s “Certificated Employee of the Year” for grades 4-6.

“Mrs. Brewer is a passionate leader, she has a growth mindset and is a positive role model for both students and fellow co-workers,” said Principal Melissa Adams. “She is known for her outstanding ability to teach grade-level math content to even the most deficit students. She is able to do this through her love of math and the love of all of her students.”

Cesar Chavez Jr. High music teacher Elizabeth Holtan was named CUSD’s “Certificated Employee of the Year” for grades 7-8.

“Beth Holtan exemplifies what a quality teacher should be,” said Principal Rosemarie Kloepfer. “She loves teaching and works hard to provide her students with a memorable education in the visual and performing arts. Though Beth has been teaching for 25 years, her passion and dedication to meet the needs of all students has never diminished.”

Central Valley High School Science teacher Renee Mello was named CUSD’s “Certificated Employee of the Year” for high school grades.

“Renee develops lessons that not only engage her students, but also set them up for success,” Principal Carol Lubinsky said. “She understands authentic student engagement, and it’s very uncommon to see her students lose focus on the learning. She studies how students’ brains work and good educational pedagogy, and implements the practices she studies.”

School site “Certificated Employees of the Year” included:

• Melissa Torres (Adkison Elementary, sixth grade);

• Sarah Wells (Patricia K. Beaver Magnet School, first grade);

• Kristy Hunga (Caswell Elementary, intervention);

• Margaret Hartung (Don Pedro Elementary, intervention);

• Jennifer Mattos (Carroll Fowler Elementary (third grade);

• Veronica Jauregui Gonzalez (Lucas Elementary, second grade);

• Rebecca Puccinelli (Virginia Parks Elementary, third grade);

• Suzette Stavrianoudakis (Sinclear Elementary, intervention);

• Greg Ratto (Sam Vaughn Elementary, sixth grade);

• Isabel Jardin (Westport Elementary, first grade);

• Kathy Weststeyn (Walter White Elementary, first grade);

• Cristy Hansen (Whitmore Charter Schools, first grade);

• Sen Saelee (Blaker-Kinser Jr. High, physical education);

• Christie Stokman Wagner (Mae Hensley Jr. High, physical education);

• Chelsi Koster (Argus/Endeavor, English);

• Brett Johnson (physical education);

• Jolleen De Clercq (Educational Services, district coach/staff developer);

•  Esmeralda Ortiz (Student Support Services, preschool);

• Stefanie Alvarez (Special Education, inclusion support specialist).