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Retiring superintendent, longtime employees recognized by School Board
Wickham cries
Retiring Ceres Unified School District Supt. Denise Wickham choked back the tears when she was recognized by the School Board and her replacement, Amy Peterman, at a recent meeting. - photo by Photo courtesy of Ceres Unified School District

At a recent meeting of the Ceres Unified School District board of trustees, a number of faithful employees who are retiring at the end of the 2023-24 school year were honored.

The district is facing a number of big losses, including that of Supt. Denise Wickham and Ken Hines, the district’s director of Maintenance, Operations & Transportation, is leaving after 34 years of service.

Wickham is leaving the district in the hands of Amy Peterman who was appointed by the board on Oct. 26. Her current position as CUSD’s Deputy Superintendent of Educational Services is being filled.

“Serving this district has been and will continue to be a profound honor,” said Wickham, who has served as superintendent replacing Scott Siegel in 2021.

“My love for this district and appreciation for our staff, students, families, and community have made this an extremely difficult decision,” said Dr. Wickham in an October email to district staff. “Yet after much reflection, I believe the time is right to embark on a new chapter that prioritizes my loved ones and allows me to spend more time with them.”

Wickham has been in education for 33 years, nearly 20 in Ceres. She came to CUSD in 2005 as supervisor of Projects & Assessment; served as Director of Curriculum & Instruction from 2006-2008, and led the Personnel division from 2008-2021. During her time in Personnel, she launched the CUSD Leadership Academy to support employees interested in developing their leadership capacity.

Peterman is possibly the first CUSD superintendent who is a product of the Ceres school system. Formerly Amy Beaver, she attended Caswell Elementary and Mae Hensley Junior High before going onto Ceres High School where she was involved in sports and took the school’s first Advanced Placement class, AP Calculus. That class was taught by Siegel, who became superintendent nearly two decades later. Peterman graduated from Ceres High School in 1991.

Linda Stubbs, a 19-year veteran with CUSD and former principal of Ceres High School for 10 years, is also retiring. Stubbs transferred to the Argus and Endeavor high school campus in 2019 to replace Jan Gordon.

The Argus and Endeavor highs are on a single campus. Argus is Ceres Unified School District’s continuation high school; Endeavor is the independent study program.

Other retirees, their schools or departments and their years of service, who were honored by the board are as follows:

• Sharon Sakakihara, Sam Vaughn Elementary School, 43 years.

• Marianetta Veneman, Don Pedro Elementary, 39 years.

• Leslie Bynum, Carroll Fowler, 33 years.

• Steve Dyer, Cesar Chavez Junior High, 33 years.

• Lisa DeOliveira, a Hidahl Elementary School teacher with 32 years of employment with Ceres Unified.

• Antoinette Govea, who’s been a teacher in Ceres for 32 years, leaving as a Virginia Parks Elementary School fourth grade teacher.

• Donna Conway, who has been with CUSD for 30 years and leaving as a third grade teacher at Adkison Elementary School.

• Devon James, Educational Services, 30 years.

• Vanessa Monn, who leaves CUSD after 29 years spent as an education specialist at Argus and Endeavor high schools.

• Mary McKenzie, Walter White Elementary, 28 years.

• Debbie Babb, a sixth grade teacher at Sinclear Elementary School who has spent the last 27 years with Ceres students.

• Karol Eisenbeis, a Hidahl Elementary School intervention teacher who is retiring after 26 years with CUSD.

• Silvia Montez from La Rosa Elementary after 26 years of service.

• Barbara Betz, Mae Hensley Jr. High School, 26 years.

• Maria Vizcaino, Child Nutrition, 24 years.

• Sherry Atchison, La Rosa Elementary, 23 years.

• Deborah Lackey, Educational Services, 21 years.

• Manuel Zamora, Maintenance Department, 20 years.

• Sonia Seabourn, a Ceres High School campus supervisor who is wrapping up 20 years of service with the district.

• Kathleen Mew, Hidahl Elementary School, 19 years.

• Pamela Rock, Child Nutrition, 18 years.

• Milinda Ortiz, Don Pedro Elementary, 17 years of service.

• Kimberly Quiroga, Walter White Elementary School, 17 years.

• Kym Shaw, Ceres High, 13 years.

• Robert Miller, Central Valley High School, 11 years.

• Andrea Rose, Sinclear Elementary, nine years.

• Tami Houghtln, Central Valley High School, seven years.

Ken Hines retiring
On the occasion of his retirement, Ceres Unified School District Maintenance, Transportation and Operations Director Ken Hines was honored for 34 years of service by CUSD Board President Hugo Molina and incoming Supt. Amy Peterman. - photo by Photo courtesy of Ceres Unified School District