A few short weeks ago, they were named Orange County Classified School Employees of the Year. Now, three of the county’s top workers have received one of the state’s top honors.
Patricia Mendez, activity monitor at Manuel Esqueda Elementary School in the Santa Ana Unified School District, Adrian Prieto, HVAC technician in the Anaheim Union High School District, and Chris Martinez, systems network technician in the Magnolia School District, were recognized as 2021 California Classified School Employees of the Year.
Established in 2008 by the California Department of Education, the program annually honors outstanding classified school employees in the following categories: Paraprofessional Services, Clerical and Administrative Services, Transportation Services, Food and Nutrition Services, Custodial and Maintenance Services, Security Services, Health and Student Services, Technical Services, and Skilled Trades Services. This year’s recipients were chosen from 123 nominations statewide.
“The pandemic has made this an incredibly difficult year for students and families; meeting students’ basic needs as well as their social and emotional needs is more important than ever,” State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond said. “Our outstanding classified employees have made heroic efforts to step up and support California’s students so they can continue to learn. These dedicated employees make sure kids have healthy meals, safe transportation on school buses, and someone to talk to during difficult and unexpected changes— helping keep them safe and supported in their lives and in their education.”
In May, Mendez, Prieto, and Martinez were named three of nine 2021 Orange County School Classified Employees of the Year, placing them in contention for state honors.
Along with Orange County’s three honorees, the 2021 state Classified School Employees of the Year, by category, are:
- Clerical and Administrative Services: Natalie Hung, Secretary, Castro Valley Elementary, Alameda County, 8 years of service
- Custodial Services: Dan Luu, Lead Custodian, John Baldwin Elementary School, Contra Costa County, 15 years of service
- Food and Nutrition Services: Rhima Blenkhorn, Café Team Lead l, Orchard Elementary School and Twin Rivers Unified School District, Sacramento County, 13 years of service
- Health and Student Services: Pamela Wampler, Licensed Vocational Nurse, San Joaquin County Office of Education, 20 years or service
- Paraprofessional Services: Aven Callahan, Library Assistant l, S. Christa McAuliffe Elementary School, Riverside County, 7 years of service
- Transportation: Tony Williams, Bus Driver and Custodian/Maintenance, Igo-Ono-Elementary School and Igo-Ono-Platina Union School District, Shasta County, 8 years of service.
For more information, visit the California Department of Education’s Classified School Employees of the Year webpage.