Anne Thatcher, the office manager at Blaker-Kinser Junior High School, has been named 2018 Member of the Year by the California School Employees Association (CSEA).
“I was shocked because this honor only goes to five people in the whole state of California,” said Thatcher.
CSEA has more than 240,000 members who work in support roles in schools, community colleges and county offices of education throughout the state. Each year, a handful are honored who go above and beyond their duties as school secretaries, custodians, food service workers, bus drivers, paraprofessionals and other key jobs. According to CSEA’s website, the purpose of the award is to “recognize the commitment and dedication of classified employees to the students of California, community involvement, and activism in CSEA.”
At a July 31 awards ceremony at CSEA’s 92nd annual conference in Sacramento, Thatcher was joined by members of her family, including a daughter who traveled from out-of-state, Ceres Unified School District leaders, and fellow CSEA chapter members as CUSD Supt. Scott Siegel spoke of the indispensable contributions of classified employees in education, and Thatcher’s contributions as an employee, parent, and labor representative.
“I have known Anne for the better part of three decades,” said Siegel, who recalled teaching Thatcher’s daughters and working with her on master schedules at Ceres High School, where both he and Thatcher began their careers with Ceres Unified. “She has graced our district and served our students with her amazing personality, intelligence, common sense and dedication.”
A 27-year employee of the district, Thatcher initially left the private sector to better align her work schedule with that of her children, who were in school. By the time they graduated high school, Thatcher knew she had found her niche.
“All these kids that I see every day are going to be my kids,” she recalled of the decision to remain in education.
In 2004 Thatcher transferred to Central Valley High School and in 2006 to Blaker-Kinser Junior High, where she also coached softball.
In addition to her commitment to students, Thatcher says she “felt a compassion for the other classified employees” that led her to hold leadership roles within the local CSEA chapter. Among her proudest moments, she says, is the day classified employees’ health and welfare benefits were levelized with those of other employee groups.
Thatcher was quick to note the constructive relationship between CUSD leaders and the employee associations, which she says is rare.
“Hearing Scott address all of the classified members of the state of California about how great classified employees are and that they couldn’t run the schools without them, him standing up and saying that as the superintendent says a lot about how he feels about the classified unit.”
Siegel publicly expressed appreciation for Thatcher’s role as an advocate for classified staff.
“Even when we disagree, you are always thoughtful and level-headed,” he said, encouraging Thatcher to “keep on fighting those battles. It is so important to raise legitimate questions, to provide an alternative viewpoint to consider. It’s part of what makes you great.”