Today, IUSD announced its five 2017 Classified Employees of the Year – Eric Lomeli, Silvia Rosa, Ari As, Linda Risberg and Rita Gallegos. Classified employees are individuals who work hard every day to ensure the District runs efficiently to serve our students and their families. They include custodians, paraeducators, media technicians, food services staff members, analysts, secretaries, bus drivers, maintenance technicians, clerks, and all the other non-certificated staff members. Most are represented by the California School Employees Association (CSEA). This year’s five employees were selected from more than 1,600 classified employees districtwide.
Similar to previous years, a caravan of District employees and Board Members traveled to each winner’s site to surprise them in front of their colleagues and/or their school sites. This year’s well-wishers included Board Members Lauren Brooks and Betty Carol, Superintendent Terry Walker, district staff, CSEA President Janelle Cranch and the five 2016 Classified Employee of the Year winners.
Our first stop at 8:10 a.m. was Woodbridge High, where Computer Support Specialist Eric Lomeli received the first Classified Employee of the Year award. Staff has nicknamed Eric “Superman,” because he is always there to support students and staff at a moment’s notice. In addition to his daily work of providing computer support for the entire Woodbridge campus, including the school’s more than 2,400 students, Eric was critical in helping the school transition from computer labs to classroom computers. This transition has enabled students and teachers to better integrate technology as part of the every-day classroom experience. He also handles and maintains eight Chromebook carts, sets up and maintains all of the computers used for AP exams and he often runs four campus venues at one time, including the theater, two in the quad and one in the teachers’ lounge.
When discussing why Eric should be awarded Classified Employee of the Year, one of his colleagues stated, “Eric is a reminder of why we are in education: to make the world a better place.”
Our second stop was to IUSD’s Central Kitchen at 8:40 a.m. to present Nutrition Services Assistant Silvia Rosa with the second Classified Employee of the Year award. Silvia received this award for her dedication to ensuring students receive healthy and delicious meals. In her role, Silvia consistently develops new menu ideas, uses her creativity to create new dishes she knows students will eat and enjoy (not an easy task!), and she carefully plans how the food is presented so that children will buy it. She takes into account the dietary needs of students and makes a variety of dishes so that everyone has healthy options. Silvia is famous for trying new recipes at home and testing them on her family.
Her colleagues have said, “She really cares about the quality of the food she is cooking and it shows.”
Great work Silvia!
IUSD’s next stop was to College Park Elementary at 9:30 a.m. to award Head Custodian Ari As with the third Classified Employee of the Year award. Ari is a beloved member of the school’s staff. He strives every day to keep the College Park campus as clean as he keeps his own home and it is this love and care for the school that makes him so special. He has a tremendous work ethic; Ari arrives to work before his shift begins and he often comes back to campus to check on the status of the building after events in the evenings.
In addition to keeping the College Park clean for students and staff, his first priority is to ensure all kids have a safe place to learn and play. During the recent large storms this winter, which caused a number of hazards around the campus, Ari worked diligently to put canopies in place, secure the outdoor cafeteria area and section off an area where a tree was uprooted. His efforts helped students and staff remain dry and safe.
Ari is also loved for his role as a positive leader on campus. During “Hero Day,” multiple students dressed as Mr. Ari, complete with a blue polo and nametag. This is just one of many ways students express their love and appreciation for Mr. Ari.
Principal Gwyn stated, “Ari cares so much about the school and its people, and his enthusiasm comes across in the quality of his work and the relationships he builds.”
Excellent work Ari!
The fourth stop was to IUSD’s Construction and Facilities office at 9:50 a.m. to present Construction Services Specialist Linda Risberg with the fourth Classified Employee of the Year award.
Linda was recognized for her professionalism, innovation and hard work. IUSD is one of the fastest growing school districts in the nation. On top of building and opening a new school each year since 2011, the Facilities and Construction team is implementing Measure E improvements, starting with six projects this summer and this is in addition to the Department’s ongoing daily duties.
Linda is often at the heart of this work, helping the Facilities and Construction team efficiently and effectively manage projects. She was a key player in ensuring Portola High School opened on time. She processed hundreds of invoices for consultants, architects, vendors and contractors, ensuring the project kept moving. In addition, Linda is continually looking for ways to improve the Department’s processes, including presentations and information for Board Meetings. The Facilities and Construction team often submits 10-20 items for approval per Board Meeting and she has streamlined this process, saving staff tremendous time. Additionally she is on IUSD’s Wellness Committee and has created a healthy and happy environment in the office by encouraging healthy eating and activities.
Executive Director of Facilities, Planning and Construction Services Kelvin Okino said, “Linda owns everything she does, from start to finish. She completes her assignments with the highest quality. She gives her best to IUSD.”
The final stop was to Venado Middle School at 10:50 a.m., where Lead Behavior Tutor Rita Gallego was presented with the final Classified Employee of the Year award. As a Behavior Tutor, Rita works to support students with social, emotional and sensory regulation behaviors. Her work helps students be successful at accessing curriculum and being productive learners and participants on campus.
She is an unsung hero, who does not have a high profile on campus but who does critically important work and makes a difference in the lives of her students. Her colleagues describe her as humble, hardworking, dedicated, professional, compassionate and caring.
Rita demonstrates these wonderful traits each and every day. Rather than eating lunch with other staff, she eats with her students to provide ongoing support throughout the day. When there is a student or staff member who needs her, she is the first person to help and the last person to leave.
When stating why Rita should be one of the five Classified Employees of the Year, her colleagues said, “She works hard every day to provide a happy, safe and comfortable environment for her students.” Another cited a time when she was asked if she wanted to become a teacher to make more money and Rita said “no.” She loves her work as behavior tutor and wants to stay with her students. She is a mentor to staff and students alike.
Great Work Rita!
Congratulations again to each winner, who will receive $1,000 courtesy of CSEA Chapter 517, as well as a jacket and commemorative plaque. They will also be honored at the May 23 IUSD Board Meeting.