Child Nutrition Category
Emma B. Reese Elementary School
Lodi Unified School District
Tina Mercer has worked in the Lodi Unified School District for 14 years and at Emma B. Reese Elementary School for the last seven years as a Cafeteria Manager 1. She oversees the preparation of approximately 100 breakfasts and 500 lunches each day. She successfully manages inventory, production, service, and all related administrative duties associated with her job. She continues to support good nutrition as part of the learning process in the classroom.
Maintenance and Operations Category
Lead Maintenance and Custodian
Columbia Elementary School District
Jim Mays has worked in the district for 16 years and serves in
the capacity of Lead Maintenance and Custodial. His duties include the maintenance,
repair and regular inspections of the district’s school buses, and training maintenance
and custodial employees in different facets of their jobs. He manages a staff of six maintenance/custodians at two schools, housing more than 1,000 students and 175
employees. He serves on the District’s Hazard Communication Plan Committee and is
a member of the Site Safety Committee for the two schools in the district. He recently
received an award from the California Highway Patrol for his many years of safe
Office and Technical Category
Sunol Glen School
Sunol Glen Unified School District
Michelle Whitfield has worked for the school and the district for 10 years and is the School Secretary. She also serves as both the school’s and district’s registrar, attendance clerk, school calendar coordinator, weekly newsletter coordinator, and is in charge of student awards and eighth grade graduation. She oversees student data systems, ensuring student data are accurate, and that the district is in compliance with state and federal laws. She is in charge of school’s Web site, monitors the special education department, and serves as the Standardized Testing and Reporting coordinator by training staff and coordinating test schedules and logistics.
Para-Educator and Instructional Assistance Category
Bilingual Instructional Assistant
Smith River Elementary School
Del Nortek County Unified School District
Eliana Hillenbrand has been a Bilingual Instructional Assistant for Spanish-speaking and Hong English-learner populations in the district for 25 years. She is a native Spanish speaker and has worked at both the high school and elementary school levels. She established and served as club advisor to the Del Nortek High School International Club, which was formed to celebrate and share community cultures. She created units to educate students and staff about Hong language and culture, sewed dresses for a Mexican dance group, and prepared celebratory dinners in her home to help students prepare and participate in the school prom. She also makes home visits and directs students and parents to community services.
Support Services and Security Category
Student Support Services Liaison
Valley Community School
Merced County Office of Education
Josephine Whitaker serves as the Student Support Services Liaison, a position she has held for 11 years. She previously worked at a school for physically and mentally challenged students. She provides support services for at-risk students, many of whom are in the juvenile court system. She monitors the attendance and academic success of these students and contacts their parents to discuss concerns. She has been instrumental in implementing the Character Counts Program, the Away Team Program, and the Why Try Program at the school. She works with the Merced Probation Department to implement the Violence Intervention Program (VIP), targeting students on probation with gang affiliation. She also provides transportation and supervision for students to participate in Boys and Girls Club activities.
Huntington Beach City School District
As a Driver/Driver Trainer, Jill Walker has driven more than 150,000 accident-free miles and safely transported Huntington Beach City School District children for more than 15 years. She drives, dispatches, routes, and trains other bus drivers. Her duties include classroom instruction for new drivers and renewal procedures for experienced drivers, behind the wheel training of drivers, and preparing drivers for the testing process at California Highway Patrol and the Department of Motor Vehicles. In 2001 she became a Delegated Behind the Wheel Trainer. She is certified to instruct drivers in the proper techniques of transporting children with special needs. She attended the California Department of Education (CDE) School Bus Driver Instructor Course and received her CDE School Bus Instructor Certificate. She is a member of the Orange County chapter of the Driver Trainer Advisory Council.