State Schools Chief Jack O’connell Gives Thanks To All Who Help Students Succeed Academically
Superintendent Jack-O'Connell
Superintendent Jack-O'Connell
California State Superintendent of Public Instruction

SACRAMENTO – State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O’Connell today offered his thanks to thousands of people statewide who help educate California’s students.
“The old African saying that ‘it takes a village’ to raise a child is absolutely true,” said O’Connell. “In our case, it takes hundreds of thousands of people from all walks of life to help educate California’s 6.3 million children. As we approach Thanksgiving, I hope everyone takes a moment to recognize the wonderful contributions of every teacher, volunteer, parent, and administrator for all they do for children in our schools. Thank you for all your hard work and dedication.”
As examples of selfless service to California’s school children, O’Connell recognized contributions from teachers, community volunteers, parents, paraeducators, and school administrators. “So many people work tirelessly, and often without recognition, to help our students and schools succeed,” he said. ”I wish I could publicly thank each person by name, but let me recognize some of these individuals on behalf of the thousands of others who give willingly of their time, money, and talents.”
• Bob Bastian of Rio Linda (Sacramento County) is a board member in several government, business, and charitable organizations. His life is a model for students to emulate. He started off as a maintenance worker, worked his way through college to become a special education teacher and counselor. Now retired, he recently was elected as a board member for the Twin Rivers Unified School District.

• Steve Berry of Riverside (Riverside County) is the chairman of the Riverside Educational Enrichment Foundation (REEF), and also is the acting City Manager of the City of Grand Terrace. As the volunteer chairman of REEF, Berry has helped raised tens of thousands of dollars for grants, science expeditions, equipment, and supplies that have benefitted teachers, students, and employees at Riverside Unified School District.

• Sue Dean of Sacramento (Sacramento County) is a library media technician at D.W. Babcock Elementary School in the Twin Rivers Unified School District. Not only does she run the school library, she serves in several vital capacities with the PTA, and is a champion cookie-dough salesperson. Dean is retiring soon after 16 years at the school.

• Elva Euyoque of Lake Forest (Orange County) is an office assistant at Walker Elementary School. Principal Roxanna Owings says Elva literally seems to know everyone in the community by name, oversees the “SOS Basket” delivery at holiday time, brings clothes to school for those in need, personally arranges the annual fifth grade camping trip by calling all parents and making sure all the paperwork is filled out.

• The Food Service Department of the Santa Ana Unified School District (Orange County) will prepare and cook 600 turkeys provided by a local business to feed the hungry on Thanksgiving Day. This is the seventh consecutive year that food service workers have volunteered their time to make someone else’s Thanksgiving a special time.

• Mick Founts of Manteca (San Joaquin County) is Deputy Superintendent of Student Programs and Services at the San Joaquin County Office of Education. He offers continuous support and perseverance to help underserved students. Founts started the innovative “One.” program that is designed to help at-risk students.

• David Francis of Santa Maria (Santa Barbara County) is retiring from the Santa Maria-Bonita School after nine years as superintendent, and nearly 37 years in education. Under his leadership, the district built four new schools, modernized or expanded 11 campuses, built three junior high gymnasiums, left the 4-track year-round schedule, implemented an extensive English-language development program, provided laptops for all teachers, opened six new preschool programs, and improved student STAR test scores each year.

• Paul Hay of Milpitas (Santa Clara County) is superintendent of the Metropolitan Education District. He offers unending support for career technical education that offers relevant skills about the real-world, alternative training, and educational opportunities for students.

• Kenny Henschel of Oxnard (Ventura County) is a warehouseman in the Rio School District. He is known by his colleagues as a giving person who truly does his job for the students. Henschel receives supplies and delivers them throughout the school district. His work affects students on a daily basis. Rio School District Superintendent Sherianne Cotterell says, “He brings sunshine to every school site, everyday.” Henschel was named 2008 California School Employees Association Member of the Year for Maintenance and Operations Services.

• Dr. Paula Nelson is the principal at Eleanor J. Toll Middle School in the Glendale Unified School District (Los Angeles County). In a recent tragedy, an 11-year-old student was hit by a car and killed in front of the school. Dr. Nelson worked closely with other principals, the PTA, and city officials to help students and staff cope with the terrible loss.

• Mariza Ramans of Campbell (Santa Clara County) is the community liaison at the Campbell Union school districts. Not only does she serve as an important link between school and the homes of troubled students, she also translates documents into Spanish and serves as an interpreter.

• Maria Sanchez of Santa Ana (Orange County) is the head night custodian at Gonzalo Felicitas Mendez Fundamental Intermediate School. Her work and conduct are models for students to emulate. No matter what time of day, she always accompanies employees to their cars for their safety. She keeps the school clean and clutter free. Sanchez often cooks meals at home and shares them with staff.

• Tom Serafin of Tustin (Orange County) is a police officer with the Santa Ana Police Department. He implemented a highly successful cardiovascular fitness program for students and staff at Andrew Jackson Elementary School.

• Sally Stewart of Portola Valley (San Mateo County) is a board of trustees member at Sequoia Union High School District and several other education and youth-related organizations. Dr. Stewart is well-known for being a tireless advocate for students and public education. Her legacy will be felt for generations to come.

• Audrey Stock of Madera (Madera County) is a Golden Valley Unified School District Board Member and a retired school teacher. She founded the school district, served on the Governing Board of Trustees, helped pass $100 million in school bonds, and negotiated to find a major developer to build quality schools.

• Bob Thompson of Yuba City (Sutter County) is a retired teacher. He was a volunteer extraordinaire for 40 years with the Yuba City High School football program.

• Maria Torres and Jacobé Murillo are parents in Santa Ana (Orange County). Torres is an activities supervisor at Washington Elementary. Jacobé is a stay-home mom. They both put in long hours to fill conference bags during the planning of a parent conference. They also helped complete inventory for the migrant education program. The women are always ready to help for any project at the school.

• Sylvia Villarreal and Trevor McDonald are both from San Jose (Santa Clara County) and are principals at Anthony P. Russo Academy and James McEntee Academy, respectively, in the Alum Rock Union Elementary School District. The students at both academies were predominantly disadvantaged and had languished academically. While Villarreal and McDonald were at the helm, they helped students substantially raise their Academic Performance Index scores.

• Emily Williams of Temple City (Los Angeles County) is a seventh grade life science teacher. The sign on her classroom door reads, “Welcome to Mrs. Williams’ World.” When the students step through the door they are immediately transported to a tropical environment where a nine-foot-tall tree looms over a miniature rainforest and its ecosystem. The room is filled with fish, birds, tree frogs, and a wide variety of plants. Williams brings a passion for the living world into her classroom and her goal is to create an environment where students become interested and engaged so they will become compelled to create their own life adventures.

• Louis Yuen of Bakersfield (Kern County) is the band director at the Vineland School District teaching at both the elementary and middle schools. With a quiet, yet firm manner, Yuen teaches his students to play, interpret, and love music. He believes the most important aspect of education is enjoyment, saying, “Enjoyment provides the fuel to perpetuate passion and enthusiasm for learning.”