Two local school employees are moving onto represent Stanislaus County in the California Department of Education’s statewide recognition program for those who go above and beyond for their schools.
Hughson Unified School District Maintenance, Operations and Transportation worker Sal Ramirez and Keyes Union School District Student Support Specialist Susan Hanson were honored on Jan. 22 as two of 28 honorees during the Stanislaus County Office of Education’s 13th annual “Employees Making a Difference” ceremony, which recognizes outstanding classified (non-supervisory) education employees throughout the county.
The group also included nominees from Ceres Unified School District; however, Ramirez and Hanson were included in the five honorees chosen to move forward to the statewide program.
“It means a lot,” Ramirez said in a HUSD press release. “I love my job. I’m doing what I love to do.”
Ramirez has worked for the school district for 23 years, where his contributions are valued no matter which campus he’s at. He stated he learned his work ethic from his parents, who came to the United States from Mexico when he was a teen.
Fox Road Elementary Principal Eric Petersen wrote on Ramirez’s nomination form that he can be found “literally anywhere,” whether it’s fixing a roof, driving a bus, mending a pipe, delivering materials on a forklift or even mowing the sports field lawn.
His boundless energy and diverse skill set has created a popular saying within HUSD whenever problems arise: “Better call Sal.”
Most recently, Ramirez worked tirelessly to renovate and convert Hughson High School’s former auto shop class into a cross-fit strength and conditioning building for athletes.
“Sal is a great employee that we all count on every day,” said HUSD Superintendent Brenda Smith. “We appreciate his can-do attitude and the diversity of his skill set. Throughout his time in Hughson, he has had an incredible desire to learn anything new in the maintenance department that would benefit the district. This has made him a valuable employee who is very deserving of this recognition.”
Joining Ramirez at the state recognition program is Hanson, who said she was “shocked” to hear her name called during the county program as one of five nominees to move on.
“I’ve never been nominated and I’ve never won anything like this before,” she said, laughing. “I just do my job and I love being at the middle school.”
At Spratling Middle School, Hanson wears plenty of hats. She oversees students in the locker room, during lunch and after school. She organizes and runs awards assemblies for academics as well as athletics. She handles tardies on campus and even helped to start a “Student of the Month” program at the school where before there was no such thing. Her involvement is also instrumental in securing funding from the local Arrowhead Club as well as Wal Mart each year, and she also organizes the school’s shoe drive.
Throughout her six year with KUSD, Hanson said she’s learned the importance of collaboration and appreciates the fact that classified employees receive recognition, too.
“The teachers are extremely important, but without support staff nothing would completely come together,” she said. “We all work together and it’s all very important. We’re like a car with all the moving parts.”
To win recognition at the state level would be amazing, she added.
“To even be nominated is incredible…I’m still in shock and awe,” Hanson said. “To be chosen at the state level would be huge for our school district because we work so hard for the community and we all try so hard to keep everyone going here.”
Hanson and Ramirez will be honored at the state’s 2020 Classified School Employees of the Year Program in Sacramento this spring with other county nominees from throughout California.
“We all do the same thing — we all love kids,” Hanson said.
Among the employees from Ceres, Hughson and Keyes districts nominated for the honor are:
• Katie Kelley, a Ceres Unified cafeteria worker at Patricia “Kay” Beaver Elementary School;
• Sylvia Martinez, a CUSD paraprofessional and student supervision assistant at Walter White Elementary School;
• Kim Webster, a CUSD credential analyst at the district office.