Two of the state’s Classified School Employees of the Year are from Orange County

State Superintendent Tony Thurmond on Tuesday announced the 2023 California Classified School Employees of the Year — a group that includes a senior warehouseman and an office manager from Orange County.

This marks the third consecutive year that Orange County has been represented by at least two classified school employee honorees. Overall, nine of the last 27 statewide classified school employees of the year have served at schools and districts in Orange County.

Jaime Carranza, a senior warehouseman from the Anaheim Union High School District, won the award for top classified employee in the Food and Nutrition Services category. Adriana Ponce, an office manager at Jordan Elementary School in the Lowell Joint School District, was awarded in the Clerical and Administrative Services category.

The Classified School Employees of the Year Program annually selects nine exemplary employees in the areas of paraprofessional, transportation, clerical and administrative, food and nutrition, security, health and student, custodial and maintenance, and skilled trades services. The program, created by the California Department of Education in 2008, highlights workers who go above and beyond in service of their schools and districts. School districts select their own top candidates, who can advance to earn county, state and national honors.

Going the extra mile

“My heartfelt congratulations go to these outstanding employees for going the extra mile to step up and support California’s students so they can continue to learn,” Thurmond said in a statement. “These dedicated employees make sure kids have healthy meals, safe campuses and transportation, and systems and supports during difficult and unexpected changes — ensuring all students are supported in their lives and in their education.”

From a pool of 151 nominees, the state’s selection committee evaluates each employee based off factors like work performance, support from their colleagues and involvement with their campus and local community.

This year’s other honorees are Kerry Wedel, a head custodian in the Folsom Unified School District; Amber Dimas, a health assistant in the Folsom-Cordova Unified School District; Carmen Perea-Tellez, an instructional assistant in the Livermore Valley Joint Unified School District; John Cantrell, lead campus safety officer in the Ontario-Montclair School District; Jose Gudino, a mechanic in the Campbell Union High School District; Belinda Campbell, a senior computer operator in the Oakland Unified School District; and Teresa Altom, the maintenance, operations and transportation secretary in the Hart-Ransom Union School District.

The state honorees will be recognized by Superintendent Thurmond at the Classified School Employees of the Year luncheon on May 23.

Here are Orange County’s own California Classified School Employees of the Year, with a look at their backgrounds and local contributions courtesy of the CDE:

Adriana Ponce
Office Manager, Jordan Elementary School
Lowell Joint School District
8 years of service

2023 California Classified School Employee of the Year Adriana Ponce

Adriana Ponce sees no limitations — only endless possibilities — when it comes to serving the families, students and staff of Jordan Elementary and the Lowell Joint School District. Ponce came to Jordan in December 2014 and brought her extensive technical knowledge of what is required to keep a campus running efficiently from her previous experience serving a large district in Texas. Ponce looks for creative ways to solve problems, and during distance learning and the return to hybrid instruction she organized tasks and delegated responsibilities to classified staff members who were not able to perform their typical duties. In doing so, she took care to be sensitive to personal schedules and various levels of comfort when it came to interacting with others.

Jaime Carranza
Senior Warehouseman, Anaheim Union High School District
5 years of service

2023 California Classified School Employee of the Year Jaime Carranza

As the senior warehouseman for Food Services, Jaime Carranza’s responsibilities include ensuring school sites receive their deliveries, providing technical guidance to all drivers, monitoring and maintaining warehouse inventory, receiving and storing deliveries of food and supplies, and maintaining warehouse equipment and fleet trucks. Carranza goes above his responsibilities on a daily basis. He is dependable and is always ready and willing to assist in all areas. Carranza is approachable and friendly and consistently provides excellent customer service by maintaining open channels of communication. When challenges arise, he is quick to address them and offer up solutions. Because of his knowledge and experience and his willingness to assist others, employees never hesitate to call Carranza for assistance.