April 29, 2019
State Superintendent Tony Thurmond Announces 2019 Classified School Employees of the Year
SACRAMENTO—State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond today honored six outstanding classified school employees for their dedication to California’s public school students.
“Meeting students’ basic needs, as well as their social and emotional needs, is essential to ensuring that every student can learn,” said Thurmond. “These dedicated employees make sure that kids have healthy meals, safe transportation on school buses, and have someone to talk to during difficult times in their lives—allowing California’s students to reach their greatest potential.”
The annual program honors six outstanding classified school employees from the following categories: Child Nutrition; Maintenance, Operations, and Facilities; Office and Technical Support; Para-Educator and Instructional Assistance; Support Services and Security; and Transportation. This year’s recipients were chosen from more than 100 nominations statewide.
The 2019 Classified School Employees of the Year, who will be honored by Thurmond at a luncheon in Sacramento on Thursday, May 23, are (information contained in the following biographical sketches was excerpted from their nomination forms):
Child Nutrition: Deborah Watkins, Food Service Cook, Westminster School District, Orange County. 24 years in current position.
Debbie has an incredible work ethic and goes above and beyond to ensure the cleanliness standards in the kitchen are impeccable and that all rules and regulations are followed. Debbie is responsible for planning, cooking, and distributing 7,500 meals to Westminster Elementary school sites each day. In the 24 years she has worked for the district, there has not been a single day that students have not received a meal. Debbie is one of the most reliable, hard-working individuals at the district.
Maintenance and Operations: Kim Bramsen, Director of Maintenance and Operations, Ballard Elementary School, Ballard School District, Santa Barbara County. 21 years in current position.
Beyond taking great care of the school, Kim is an integral part of the community at Ballard School. An elementary school with around 120 students, Kim gets to know each child by name and establishes relationships with them. He is always a willing participant in the hijinks of the kindergarten classroom, whether it involves leprechauns and their mischief or regaling the children with historical tales of the school house.
Office and Technical: Michelle Brobak, School Secretary, Del Rey Elementary, Orinda Union School District, Contra Costa County. Seven years in current position.
Michelle runs the Del Rey front office with heart. Students trust her and feel safe. She is calm and reassuring, particularly when dealing with injured students and their concerned parents. On many occasions, teachers and staff report escorting a crying child to the office during yard supervision and witnessing Michelle quickly assessing the situation, providing necessary first aid, and ensuring the student feels safe and as comfortable as possible.
Para-Educator and Instructional Assistance: Maria Arroyo, Behavior Specialist, Daly Academy, Chula Vista Elementary School District, San Diego County. 12 years in current position.
There is not a single “hat” that Maria doesn’t wear at Daly Academy. The work that Maria does on any single day is nearly unmatched—it takes a special type of person to do it all with a smile and a desire to do it well so that students have an amazing day. Maria understands trauma-informed care and never takes things personally. The children immediately know they will be loved, cared for, and educated. This allows for an environment of grace which helps our children thrive.
Support Services and Security: Benito Torres, Police Officer, Stockton Public Safety Academy, Stockton Unified School District, San Joaquin County. 19 years in current position.
During his 19 years of service with the Stockton Unified School District Police Department, Officer Torres has worked in many capacities. He exudes the definition of role model and mentor for the students. He is passionate about so many things, especially making a difference in the lives of others. That includes taking a call on his personal cell phone at 1 a.m. from a scared cadet whose house was just shot at; helping a family who can’t afford medication for their child; and simple everyday actions that make everyone he encounters feel safe, heard, and important.
Transportation: Ramon Moreno, Bus Driver, Greenfield Union School District, Monterey County. 12 years in current position, 20 years with the district.
Ramon is a bus driver for special education students who get services in other school districts in Monterey County. He is always conscientious about students’ feelings and well-being. There are times where his routes result in very long journeys due to traffic or delays. During these times, Ramon engages with students when they become irritable or sad. He is in constant communication with parents during these delays. He personally communicates and informs parents of transportation time changes in his route. These are tasks that he does not have to perform but is willing to do to ensure students are comfortable and parents have peace of mind.
Please visit the California Department of Education’s Classified School Employee of the Year web page for more information. The program is co-sponsored by the Classified School Employees Association and our Presenting Sponsor, San Mateo-based California Casualty. California’s Classified School Employee Week, established as an official week of statewide recognition in 1986 through Senate Bill 1552, will be celebrated from May 19 to May 25, 2019.
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Tony Thurmond —
State Superintendent of Public Instruction
Communications Division, Room 5602, 916-319-0818, Fax 916-319-0100