Board of Education Awards

  • Each of our schools is showcased at a Board of Education meeting once a year. The school's principal and a parent leader usually give a presentation, and awards are presented to a student, classified staff member and certificated (teacher/counselor) staff member. Although the awards are called "student of the month" and "staff member of the month," for that school, it is really "student of the year" and staff member of the year."

    We'll showcase some of the award recipients here, by sharing some of the information about them that was provided by their principals or read at the awards ceremony.

  • May 2021

    May 2021 Employees

    Laura Patricia Ramirez de Chino, Anel Leon & Nancy Botello - Cesar Chavez Language Academy

    It is with great pleasure to congratulate this “Dream Team” of Instructional Assistants for the Classified Employees of the month for Cesar Chavez Language Academy. Five years ago, when I started as Principal at CCLA, it was difficult to find bilingual instructional aides to work in our classrooms. I encouraged these parents to apply for the positions, knowing that they were dedicated to our school and students. All three of them had worked in different careers, and working in the educational field was new to them. Initially, they were each assigned a teacher in grades K-2 and supported students in their classrooms. They have been supported and trained by our Reading Specialist, Diane Gunderson, and over the years I have watched them develop into educational experts in the area of literacy. They have participated in Professional Development on our Phonics program as well as Guided Reading. For the past two years, they have embraced our PRESS model - pushing into all K-2 classrooms as a team with our Reading Specialist and seeing small groups of students for Guided Reading every single day. They have also tutored students after school. This year, as we launched into Distance Learning, they embraced the idea of continuing their Guided Reading Groups on Zoom. With the support of Diane Gunderson, they met with students daily. This team of women was on zoom from 8am-2:30pm seeing 9 reading groups per day! Not only that, on Wednesdays, they held “Creative Corner” classes, planning arts & craft classes for added enrichment. When it was time to return to school, they asked if they could see our First grade students in person. They continue to see asynchronous students on zoom, but keep the in-person students after school for an extended school day. They work with 6 students for two hours in order to provide additional intervention in Reading and Writing. They set this up all on their own, calling parents and making arrangements for students to stay later. Nancy Botello, Pati Ramirez & Anel Leon are a huge asset to our instructional program. Because of their efforts, our students have continuously made gains in the area of literacy. Our teachers, students and parents are grateful for everything they do for our community. ¡Gracias por su dedicación a los alumnos de CCLA!

    Diane Gunderson - Cesar Chavez Language Academy

    Diane Gunderson has been working in SRCS since 1996, at both Lincoln & Burbank Elementary schools, then joining Cesar Chavez Language Academy as our Reading Specialist. Diane is one of the most thorough, detail oriented people that I know. As our Reading Specialist, she has taken on the role of training and supporting teachers as well as a team of Instructional Assistants. Diane has the ability to see the “big picture” in terms of curriculum and instruction. Last year, another teacher presented an idea to Diane that she read about in a teacher magazine. The idea was for the Reading Specialist to push into the classrooms with a team of Instructional Assistants for 25 minutes per day. This model is called Pulling in Reading with Exceptional Specialist Support (PRESS). Within three weeks, we implemented it at CCLA. This meant that every day, all students in Kindergarten through second grade received Guided Reading instruction. With Distance Learning, Diane and her team did the same model on zoom, seeing 9 reading groups per day. When Diane pulled Let's Go Learn data comparing last year to this year, we were pleasantly surprised that there was not as much learning loss as expected.When it came time to Return to In Person Instruction and we needed a 2nd grade teacher, Diane volunteered to temporarily switch roles, because that was what students needed. We are incredibly proud of the work that Diane has done at CCLA. Congratulations Maestra Gunderson!

    Jake Jestadt - Lawrence Cook Middle School

    Jake Jestadt has been a wonderful addition to the Lawrence Cook Middle School family. Mr. Jake as he is called by staff and students, has gone above and beyond the call of duty this year to build strong relationships with the entire school community.  From the day he began working at Cook it was obvious we found the right person for the job. When students were in 100% distance learning, Mr. Jake would join the science classes and learn as much as he could so that he would be able to help the newcomer students understand the content. After working until 1:00pm with students, he volunteered to go on home visits to check in on the students who were not engaging in their classes. Afterwards he would jump back in and help students during office hours. Once the stie was allowed to host non-instructional cohorts, Mr. Jake immediately volunteered to take on a group of 10 students. Had it been allowed, he would have certainly taken on a larger group. Mr. Jake cares deeply about the well-being of ALL students, and consistently goes the extra mile by checking in and following up with students, attending optional meetings, and often making phone calls home on his own time.  Several of our ALD and ELD students are not only passing their classes because of Mr. Jake’s support, but they are happier and more self-confident as well. He has also reached out and offered his support to our teachers, helping to translate and communicate home on their behalf. Mr. Jake’s contributions to our school community are invaluable, and we are lucky to have him as a member of our team.

    Rainbow Ashton - Lawrence Cook Middle School

    Rainbow Ashton is one of the most dedicated teachers at Lawrence Cook Middle School. As the sole Art teacher on campus, almost every student is fortunate enough to take Ms. Ashton’s class at some point in their middle school career. This year, when the school was short electives, she immediately volunteered to teach an extra section each day. Even with the additional period, her class sizes were very large. Ms. Ashton welcomes students at all levels into her Art classes and she always goes above and beyond to ensure all of her students can feel successful in producing art. She is a patient teacher who seeks to understand and address struggles students display in class. In addition, she is one of the first to volunteer to help at the school site be it producing an interactive map for the students so that they could get to know the campus before beginning hybrid learning or painting a back drop so students can take a picture during drive thru promotion. From putting together and distributing supply bags for students to do art from home during distance learning, to the amount of time she pours into creating lessons that are appropriate for budding artists and the not so artistic, to her role as a school site leader serving on the Tier 1 Committee and as the VAPA chair, Ms. Ashton has spent countless hours this year giving Lawrence Cook Middls School students the best possible school experience.

    Sally Gonzalez - Elsie Allen High School

    We are pleased to honor Sally Gonzalez as our Elsie Allen High School Classified Employee of the Year. Sally Gonzalez is a compassionate, loyal, and hard working individual. She goes the extra mile to connect with our families, students and staff. She also brings joy and laughter to our everyday. Making the workplace both an environment that is positive and that you look forward to coming to. Her flexibility to adapt and to work under pressure is admired greatly, as she gets the work done! She tackles difficult situations with grace, and she is patient and thoughtful in her work and with others. She consistently strives to learn new things even being an essential asset in the building of the Master Schedule and assisting the Vice Principal with a myriad of responsibilities, many if which are technically above and beyond her job description. She welcomes our families whole heartedly and with a listening ear, as they share their own personal struggles and/or needs.  Especially during this pandemic, Sally has gone above and beyond from her role as a Registrar.

    Katie Chesbro - Elsie Allen High School

    Elsie Allen High School is pleased to honor Social Science teacher Katie Chesbro as our Elsie Allen High School Certificated Employee of the Year.Katie’s passion are her students and their learning. She is an innovative and creative educator who creates engaging lessons for her students She is reflective in her work so that her students could be more academically successful. In the past few years she has taken more leadership roles at our site. She is the leader of our World History team and has done wonders coordinating the delivery of curriculum to the students by all of the World History teachers. She has also supported new World History Teachers with their lessons and curriculum. A couple of years ago Katie was asked by Principal Albavera if she would be willing to be our WASC coordinator. Mr. Albavera saw Katie’s skill set as well as the respect that her collegues had for her. She was hesitant to take the position with a toddler at home and another on the way. But she took on the challenge. Her organization, efficiency, and drive were on full display throughout the entire process. While that was obviously very important where she shined was interacting with, educating, and motivating participating staff members (and administrative team members as well). She had everyone pulling in the same direction to a remarkable extent. We all know how hard that can be on a high school campus. She created a remarkably accurate WASC report that we have been able to honestly use as a guide to how we move forward together as a school. Katie Chesbro is truly a remarkable educator and colleague and Elsie Allen High School is extremely proud to honor her tonight as our Certificated Employee of the Month.


    May 2021 CCLA

    It is my pleasure to recommend Luis Angel Herrera for the Student of the Month award at Cesar Chavez Language Academy. According to his 6th grade teacher, Ms. Garcia, “Luis Angel is a joyful, sweet, intelligent student who is always eager to learn. . His positive energy is extremely contagious and loved by his classmates. Maestra Montesinos reports, “Having Luis Ángel as a student has been such a pleasure. He is well liked by his peers and teachers alike. Luis Ángel is determined to be an animator and own his own animation company. He is determined and I know he will achieve this and more!” Maestra Cena says, “It has been such a pleasure watching Luis Ángel grow up at CCLA! He is well loved by his classmates, and shares his contagious joy wherever he goes. Luis Ángel loves to learn, is eager to please, gives 110% on every assignment, engages wholly in the learning process, and has learned to advocate for his own needs. His joy for life is infectious! This world is a better place with Luis Ángel.” Students say, “He’s super smart & creative!” “Out of the whole school, he’s probably the nicest person I know…” Luis Angel pushes through his autism diagnosis every single day! He has taught us all important lessons about acceptance and inclusion. If there was ever a student at our school who truly exemplifies our “Si Se Puede” motto, it is Luis Angel!

     May 2021 Cook

    Yasmin Ballinas Chumil is one of our many extraordinary students at Lawrence Cook Middle School. Yasmin is a bright young lady and has been on the honor roll for each grading period this year. She is friendly and outgoing and has shown leadership in her classes. Her teachers report that Yasmin is often the first student to log into zoom and the first person ready at the door for in person class.  She always greets teachers and students with a hello or a smile.  Throughout distance learning, Yasmin has connected by always having her camera on and using the chat to communicate.  One of my favorite things about Yasmin is her willingness to ask for help and share how she is feeling.  Her willingness to share often sparks more questions and responses from the class and has helped to shape a positive classroom culture. She consistently demonstrates focus by actively participating in Zoom classes and taking her work seriously. She shares her funny personality by commenting in class and tutoring which helps make each meeting memorable. She is a dedicated student who attends tutoring while simultaneously caring for her little brother.  In addition, Yasmin is an exceptional artist, and a wonderful writer. She is a tremendous asset to our school community, and we look forward to her continuing leadership on campus next year. These words, spoken by her social studies teacher sum up how we feel about Yasmin, “Thank you Yasmin for being a great kid.”


    May 2021 Elsie

    Elsie Allen High School’s student of the month is Mika Iwai. Mika moved to Santa Rosa from Chiba Japan at the age of 16 knowing little English. Her first year at Elsie Allen was difficult. She missed her country and academics were hard for her  not knowing the language. One place she found some comfort in that didn’t take too much English language was in music class with Mr. Thompson. Mika didn’t let the language become an obstacle for her. She had all academic classes during that sophomore year and now as a senior she is taking AP Calculus, AP Physics, Government, Piano, English and Spanish. Yes she is tri-lingual. Mika has also been involved in sports at school as she has been on our badminton and tennis teams. She also joined the Interact club and has participated in many community service activities with the organization. Some of her teachers wanted to share some words about Mika Mr. Thompson (Music)-She has high expectations and has been extremely dedicated in all of her academic, music, and athletic pursuits. Ms. Chamberlain (her counselor)-Mika's strong work-ethic over the last three years resulted in her becoming an outstanding student, one who adapts to change and overcomes challenges. Doug Gibson (Math and AP Physics teacher)-Academically, Mika is one of our top seniors, taking many Honors and AP classes, with a weighted GPA of 3.7.  During her presentation on Isaac Newton in Physics, she played 17th century period music on her piano as background. Mika’s future plans are to attend either UC Santa Cruz or UC Santa Barbara and pursuit a degree in Computer Science. Elsie Allen High School is proud and honored to award the Santa Rosa City School Board Student of the Month to Mika Iwai.

  • April 2021

    April 2021 Staff awards

    Alyssa Esposito - Brook Hill Elementary

    Brook Hill Elementary Staff would like to recognize Alyssa Esposito, 5th Grade Teacher, as our Certificated Staff Member of the month. Ms. Esposito has been an integral part of the reason why Brook Hill continued to excell during the pandemic and Distance Learning.  Her expertise with technology and her willingness to help her fellow teachers and staff has not gone unnoticed. Since the moment she became a Bobcat Staff Member you would find her all over campus offering a lending hand.  This has been even more apparent during the pandemic.  One colleague of hers even called her the “unofficial Tech TOSA” of our site.  She has hosted professional development sessions for Brook Hill staff and offered professional development district-wide.  Her supportive nature coupled with her patience is the perfect combination for a teacher leader on campus. Ms. Esposito is not only an expert with technology, but she also has great knowledge of instructional content.  She is a quick learner, she is flexible, and she is passionate about ensuring her students make academic growth using differentiated instruction within her classroom.  She has taught Kindergarten, 3rd grade, 5th grade, and also a 5th/6th combination class while at Brook Hill. No matter what grade level she teaches she does it with a smile, an open mind, and becomes an expert in the standards for that grade level quickly.  Additionally, she has a great passion for inclusion and adapts her lessons, no matter the content area, with an equity lens. As you can tell Ms. Esposito is one of a kind.  We are lucky to have her at Brook Hill and we are honored to name her our Certificated Bobcat Staff Member of the Year. Congratulations!

    Sendy Castillo-Ceja - Brook Hill Elementary

    Brook Hill Elementary Staff would like to recognize Sendy Castillo-Ceja, Student Engagement Activity Worker, as our Classified Staff Member of the month. Ms. Castillo-Ceja, or what we know her as - Ms. Sendy, is the definition of a dedicated Bobcat Staff Member.  Her roots as a Bobcat date back to when she attended Brook Hill as a student and her passion for our community is admired by anyone who meets her. Ms. Sendy is not just our Student Engagement Activity Worker and never has been.  Ms. Sendy truly “does it all”.  She is a favorite among our Bobcat Students due to her kind, caring, supportive, and welcoming nature.  She is trusted by not just students but also the staff.  Her colleagues are appreciative of her willingness to help, her patience with students & staff, and her consistent ability to go above and beyond. During the pandemic, Ms. Sendy’s role on campus changed, but she took on the challenge with stride.  Not only did she engage students weekly with small group sessions and live enrichment activities on zoom, but she was also an integral part of our successful Re-Engagement Team.  She has blown us away with her ability to engage students from home, but then also build lasting and supportive relationships with our families from a distance. Ms. Sendy truly represents what it means to be a Bobcat, and we are so lucky to have her.  Congratulations, Ms. Sendy!

    Joan Fox - Herbert Slater Middle School

    Herbert Slater Middle School is proud to announce that Joan Fox has been chosen by her peers to represent Slater as our Certificated Employee of the Year. Joan has been a teacher for 30 years and she has been at Slater for 28 of those years. Joan has gone way above and beyond this year to support not only our site, but the whole district when it comes to Distance Learning and technology. Her students love her video lessons with powerpoint presentations and Joan is always so good at letting us know when her students are falling through the cracks. What a wonderful career and what a wonderful way for her to cap it off as our Teacher of the Year. As the Principal of Slater, I would like to share comments from her peers:  "Your patience, great humor and wisdom have helped many of us! You have done this everyday since I met you. During distance learning, when many of us were lost, you found the time to guide us and to teach us. You are a true teacher and a great human being.  I’m so glad you have received this well deserved award!" -Carmen Osorio  "J- Justifiably essential to all of us! O- Outstanding organizer! A- Always helps with tech issues! N- Never gives up on the kids!" -Sandi Martin  "I had the pleasure of being a 7th grade health student in Ms. Fox’s class in addition to working alongside her at Slater. I don’t know anyone more uniquely qualified to teach middle schoolers and no one else who can make 7th grade sex education “fun”, exciting AND educational. A wicked sense of humor and such a giving heart. Ms. Fox deserves this, and more!!" -Jaime Hamilton "A well-deserved award and recognition for a Science Queen!  Congratulations, Joan!  Thanks for all of your help (technically, figuratively, literally, practically, psychologically, etc.) throughout the years.  What a way to end an amazing career." -Jocelyn Coltrin  "Congratulations Joan!! You have been a mentor to so many during this difficult transition to distance learning. I miss being able to walk across the hall with my laptop when I need help, but mostly I miss having lunch with you daily and sharing all the trials and tribulations of our everyday lives. I'm glad we are finishing our careers together... going out with a bang!!" -Jane Thomas  "Joan is not only an amazing teacher to her students, she is an incredible mentor to her fellow teachers. Joan is always quick to support anybody, whether they are in her department or not. Joan has been one of the leaders in revolutionizing our school technology, getting HSMS online with chromebooks and google classroom before the rest of the district caught up. She embodies the "warm demander" that we all aim to be for our students, holding kids to high expectations while supporting them the whole way." -Logan Kaper "Joan is intelligent, discerning, proficient, and hardworking. She is very talented at adjusting to meet her students' needs. She is someone I can go to on campus for help with work issues." -Rebecca Schroder "It's been a pleasure to hear about how you engage with your students as well as how you have supported your students during this challenging time of Distance Learning! It makes all the difference! " -Allison Ho

    Allison Ho - Herbert Slater Middle School

    Herbert Slater Middle School is honored to select Allison Ho as our Classified Employee of the Year. Allison’s dedication and commitment to our students so admirable. She is an amazing Restorative Specialist and our students and staff are lucky to have her full time at Slater. Here are some comments from our staff:  "Allison is one of the most positive people I have ever met.  She accepts students completely, while helping them to work on areas of challenge. She is very thoughtful and observant." -Kristen Woodruff "Allison is an amazing Restorative Specialist because she genuinely cares so much for every student and is empathetic to every situation. I have had the pleasure of seeing her work with not only the general education population, but also with the students I work with who have enhanced special needs, and in both populations Allison meets the students with respect. She is also constantly looking for new opportunities and outreach especially for those in the LGBTQIA+ community. I wish I would have had someone like Ms. Allison when I was in middle school." -Lauren Feige  "Allison has been so much fun to work with for the “pride club” this year. She is always providing students with LGBTQ+ resources and helping students get connected with LGBTQ+ organizations in the sonoma county community. She is extremely open minded and conscious of respecting everyone (students, staff, community members). I have learned so many things from her this year." -Sara Williams "Allison is such an asset to Slater and we are so lucky to have her! She is always positive and willing to help in any way that she can to support staff and students. She always creates a safe space for students to share and work through issues that they may be having. She recently started The Slater Pride Club, which is a great support to many of our students. This is just another example of Allison going above and beyond to make Slater a safe and welcoming place for all of our students. Congratulations to Allison on this well deserved recognition!" -Blaire Murphy  "Allison is always positive. Kids trust her and come to her for support. She is very approachable to all and is the first to help out in any way possible." -Wendy Provost  "Allison is completely dedicated to her profession. Allison listens to her students with her heart, she's an awesome human being. She is a great coworker, I really enjoy working with her." -Maria Fajardo "Allison is extremely supportive and kind. I really enjoy working with her and she is a very important asset to our Slater team. She works very hard with our students and families and we are really lucky to have her!" -Maddie Daniels

    Jim LaFrance - Montgomery High School

    Mr. LaFrance has been a teacher at Monty for the last 18 years and has also been our ASB director for 2 years.  Jim has been relentless during this challenging year by advocating for students and student events.  He has been paramount on getting student leaders back on campus to help plan end of the year events and to help make our campus look beautiful again.   Mr. LaFrance was one of the first teachers I was able to meet in person this year and from the minute I talked to him, I knew he was the type of teacher who would do whatever he could to make sure students were always first and would make sure they have a bit of normalcy for this year.   Even after students were not able to organize many of the activities they wanted, Jim was able to work with his ASB students to think outside the box and plan a Senior Celebration for this year.  I look forward to being continued colleagues with Mr. LaFrance as we transition into hybrid learning and beyond.

    Sonia Mojica - Montgomery High

    Sonia has been with the Monty team for three years.  She has been integral to keeping our front office organized and running smoothly this year.  During this pandemic, we have all had to change our mindset and do things outside the box. Throughout this time, Sonia has been a team player and has went above and beyond the scope of her regular duties to make sure families and students were taken care of.  She has spent so many hours making calls home, assisting our Guidance team, scheduling parent meetings, and answering individual questions from parents and students as we shift into hybrid learning.  I know that when I ask Sonia to assist me or the school, she will always follow through and make sure it gets done.  Thank you, Sonia for being so positive and keeping the spirits of our front office staff high!


    April 2021 Student award


    Brook Hill Elementary Staff would like to recognize Tahlia Tes, 6th grader, as our Student of the month. Tahlia Tes has been a Bobcat since Kindergarten and has grown into an amazing student while attending Brook Hill.  Tahlia’s love of learning started the moment she stepped foot in a classroom.  Her former 1st-grade teacher, Mrs. Smith, recalls Tahlia excelling in math especially at a very young age, and remembers her love for chapter books.  Mrs. Smith is quoted as saying, “Tahlia exudes happiness, creativity, and a witty personality in a modest way.” Tahlia is not just known for her academic abilities.  She is also a hard worker, she is kind, and she is welcoming to all students.  She enjoys helping those around her in a way that is supportive and comforting.  Her calming demeanor is an asset to any classroom and serves as an inspiration and model for other students.  Her peers are drawn to her for these reasons. Tahlia has many interests and talents.  Tahlia has been participating in cultural Laos dancing since she was 6 years old with her mother, who is a Noon Duty Supervisor at Brook Hill.  She also loves spending time with her old sister and is always cheering up those around her.  Tahlia wants to be a teacher or an artist in the future. Our Bobcat Staff is so proud to name Tahlia Tes as our Bobcat Student of the year.  We can’t wait to see what her future holds.  Congratulations, Tahlia!

      April 2021 student award

    Herbert Slater Middle School is honored to select Katie Thomas as our Student of the Year. Katie is a student that Principal Tucker can count on to be a role model for all Slater Spartans. Here are some comments about Katie from our staff: "Katie is amazing. She always comes to her zooms with a flower in her hair, which instantly livens up our meetings. Her work is thoughtful and well done. She is curious and is always seeking out new information. She's just a great kid." -Wendy Provost  "Katie consistently pushes herself to be a fantastic learner by asking questions, sharing ideas, participating, and staying positive." -Megan Covey "Katie is a bright, kind and extremely hard working student. She has received "A's" in all of the classes she has taken at Slater, including Spanish, Advanced Math and Advanced English. Not only is she a stellar student, but a talented cellist in our Advanced Band. When I have worked with her in the classroom, she is always engaged, volunteers and participates. She is a wonderful role model for other students.  She is always positive, friendly and has a smile on her face. Katie has a bright future ahead of her and Slater is pleased to have been part of her educational journey!" -Blaire Murphy "Katie always puts the maximum effort into all of her work.  For an example, I even gave her extra credit on an extra credit project because she did such an amazing job on it!  Katie has done a terrific job of staying consistent and amazing in distance learning.  Also, she is a talented writer.  Thank you Katie for making teaching a joy!" -Weslynn Finfrock "Katie is playing two instruments this year including a new one that she just started this fall. (she plays flute and cello). She goes above and beyond in every respect and has done exceptional work this year. She auditioned and got into our symphonic band - the highest level group - at Montgomery as a freshman which is very rare. This shows the dedication and hard work she has put into playing her instruments this year. She performs her instruments well above grade level and has taken the time to pursue solo pieces for our school concerts and for her own enjoyment outside of class. Katie has the rare gift of both being blessed with a natural gift for music and also being an extraordinary hard worker. Possessing both of these qualities makes her a truly exceptional musician and student." -Sara Williams  "There are some students that you remember from the day they enter your classroom. Katie is definitely one of them. She is enthusiastic and excited to learn Spanish. As soon as she became my student, I realized that she meant it when she said she wanted to master the language." -Carmen Osorio "Katie Thomas was a stellar student throughout her 7th grade year.  While in the classroom, she actively engaged in all class activities and lit up the room with her positive energy.  She went the extra mile in Advanced English assignments, led class discussions with her thoughtful insight, and provided a model for others to follow. Bravo, Katie for this well deserved honor of Student of the Year!" -Rachel Carusone


    April 2021 student award

    Kayla is a senior at Montgomery this year and from her accomplishments, one would not even know that our year has been turned upside down.  During her Freshman year, Kayla founded the STEM Club at Monty.  This year, because the club was not very active, they decided to donate their funds to the Rosland Family Food Relief Fund.  Early this year, Kayla sent me some articles she had written for our school newspaper.  Her articles were picked up by our local media, the Press Democrat, and published on her behalf.  Shortly after this, I received notice that Kayla was one of three Monty students who had received a Letter of Commendation from the National Merit Scholarship Program.  I was also pleasantly surprised when I dropped by Mr. Miller’s art class where Kayla was touching up her portfolio.  I was able to enjoy many of the beautiful pieces of art she has created this year.  Kayla excels at many mediums including paint, sculpture and quilling. Kayla deserves this award for not letting anything get in her way this year and throughout her time at Monty.  I know she will be moving on continued success after graduation as she will be attending Cal Poly San Luis Obispo where she will be studying mechanical engineering.  Congratulations Kayla!


  • March 2021

    March 2021 staff awards

    Melissa Wilde - Santa Rosa Charter School for the Arts

    Melissa Wilde is a First grade teacher at Santa Rosa Charter School for the Arts.  Melissa has shown her dedication to the students, families and staff year after year.  She is a strong advocate for all of her students who is persistent in her pursuit of supporting and engaging her students and their families so that they will be successful in learning strong foundational skills- both academic and social. Melissa creates engaging and interactive lessons that are relevant and culturally responsive for her students.  She uses rich, arts integrated teaching methodologies that inspire her students to want to learn more.  Furthermore, Melissa sprung into action as we transitioned into distance learning.  She spent countless hours creating engaging lessons and activities that inspired her students to want to come to Zoom classes, to be part of the classroom community and find joy in their learning.  When she has had concerns about a student’s attendance, Melissa goes to great lengths to make contact with the family, learn why her student is not attending and to make a plan that will support her student’s engagement and success in school. Melissa’s colleagues have expressed appreciation for how she is always willing to offer them her support.  She offers the lessons she has designed to other teachers and is always willing to be a thought partner. In addition to all of this, Melissa created a ‘virtual school tour’ in Spanish and English so that prospective students and families could learn more about our school- even when our campus was closed to the public. Thank you for your deep dedication to our student’s wellbeing and their future!  Congratulations Melissa!

    Cynthia Parkhill - Santa Rosa Charter School for the Arts

    Cynthia Parkhill has several roles at Santa Rosa Charter School for the Arts.  She is the School Librarian, Instructional Materials Technician and a Yard Supervisor.  Cynthia is a pivotal member of our team who cares deeply about our school and community. Cynthia has gone above and beyond for our students and staff this year.  As we moved into distance learning, Cynthia set to work recording read aloud videos for our students to access online.  She also launched a virtual reading club for students to attend on a weekly basis.  Cynthia engages students with reading challenges and has visited Zoom classes to teach students how they can access books from the public library.  Furthermore, Cynthia played a key role in Arts Charter’s school wide participation in Conversations in Common this year. In addition to all of this, Cynthia organizes the instructional materials teachers wish to distribute for our distribution days and is out there with a smile as she helps to distribute the materials to students and families.  Cynthia is willing to help in any way that she can.  She is extremely organized and impressively responsive.  Cynthia has been pivotal in managing our distribution of technology, meticulously cataloging every device.  When a student’s family requests replacement technological tools, she has materials ready for exchange or pick up in record time!  She does all of this with professionalism and courtesy- every time. As one staff member stated, “Cynthia has knocked it out of the park during distance learning!”  Thank you for your dedication and hard work Cynthia!  Congratulations!  You deserve it!

    Ketsia Cabaz Raufaste - Santa Rosa French-American Charter School

    A teacher for 19 years, Ketsia Cabaz-Raufaste is TOSA and Lead Teacher at SRFACS, supporting the school in myriad ways. One colleague explained, “Ketsia works tirelessly, helping out wherever a need arises. She is a mentor and resource to teachers just arriving in this country and a leader among her colleagues, sharing information from both international and local organizations.” A French teacher said, “Ketsia helped us a lot before we came to the USA. She didn't hesitate to spend time on the phone explaining everything we needed to know. She remains always available to give us information even if she has a lot to do. In addition to that, her positive and cheerful attitude is always encouraging Another said, “Ketsia helped a lot when I was hired. She spent much time making me comfortable in my new position. Words fail me to thank her for her work!” Asked about teaching Ketsia reflected, “It is the process of teaching and seeing students progress that I enjoy the most.” Passionate about pluralingualism, she is our site expert. Ketsia is a musician and, above all, a single mom to three wonderful children. Regarding SRFACS, Ketsia says, “I like the cultural diversity and curiosity to know each other, the students are kind and I am amazed at what they are capable of doing at such a young age. I love the town and the fact that my children evolve in a safe and welcoming environment and are completely fluent in English now.”   Congratulations, Ketsia!

    Angel Bigelow - Santa Rosa French-American Charter School

    Angel Bigelow has been Elementary Tech II at SRFACS since 2013, a year after her children began as SRFACS students. Her colleagues describe Angel as efficient, detail-oriented, creative, and responsive to everyone’s needs. As one colleague said, “Angel is front and center for all that happens at our school.” During this extraordinary year, Angel embraced organizing the many materials distributions, getting materials bundled and checked off to be sure every student had what they needed. She hosts Mad Science Club and Exploring Art zooms on our Wonderful Wednesdays. With everyone depending on computers, Angel dove into solving technical questions for students and staff. When asked where she learned technology, Angel explained that she grew up in a household where they took computers apart and she was programming in BASIC as a kid. We’re grateful for her experience. One new French teacher commented, “Angel welcomed us so warmly the first time we came to the school and she has always been available for us when we need help.” Away from SRFACS, Angel enjoys gardening, hiking, camping, reading, travel, painting, and of course, family, including her three sons. When asked what she likes most about working at SRFACS, she says, “It’s a fun place to work. I like meeting people and making friends from all over the world. I learn something new every day, we have so many different cultures and it’s a great community.” SRFACS is proud to name Angel Bigelow our Classified Employee of the Month! Congratulations Angel! 

    Talia Brayton award


    Talia Brayton is the epitome of a well-rounded, and well-grounded student.  She has an impeccable work ethic and a natural inquisitiveness.  Talia is engaged during class and participates during her lessons.  She has exceptional attendance and always keeps her camera on during Zoom classes. Talia is dedicated to her education.  An example of this is when she and her family traveled to Molokai this year. In spite of the time change, and being in a fabulous location, she attended all of her distance learning classes, even though her first classes required her to log on at 5 in the morning. Talia regularly stays on Zoom meetings after the class is sent off to do their asynchronous work.  This has created many opportunities for Talia to ask clarifying questions of her teachers, as well as discuss life beyond the curriculum. Talia has attended and actively participated in the Diversity and Inclusivity course that is new to our Middle School students this year.  Her engagement has contributed to a safe community for her peers to feel comfortable in taking risks in sharing their own experiences and thinking. Not only is Talia an amazing student, she is also a great friend and person.  She is willing to help out classmates when needed.  She has many talents.  Talia enjoys playing Volleyball and “outdoorsy” activities, frequently spending time in Tahoe.  Talia engages in life with a positive attitude.  Her kindness and keen sense of wonder and humor will serve her well throughout her life. Congratulations Talia!  All of us at Arts Charter are very proud of you!

    Mateo Esquivel-Arango   Jacobo Esquivel-Arango award

    Positive attitude, cheerful, resilient, active learners… These words from SRFACS teachers describe both Jacobo and Mateo Esquivel-Arango, inseparable twins, who are equally deserving as Student of the Month. Mrs. Sullivan says, “They represent what it means to be a student at SRFACS. I can count on them to participate in whole class discussions and small group work. They naturally take on the leadership roles in small groups and lead their group with quiet authority.” From Mrs. Darrow, “These students have shown their adaptability and flexibility transitioning into distance learning flawlessly. Jacobo volunteered to help go through his packet assignments when I lost mine during the fires and offered his family’s help. These students perform at high academic levels and their writing progress and motivation continues to impress me.” Mr. Teieb commented, "Jacobo and Mateo always show a positive attitude with classmates in group projects. The smile they have on their face every morning makes you feel better. They are loved by everyone because of their kindness, empathy and the support they give to their peers. I'm proud to have been their teacher" Mateo likes to talk and play video games. His life goal is to be an architect or an engineer and work for NASA. Jacobo loves drawing, cooking, and reading books. He would like to be a chef, and makes pancakes every morning. Jacobo and Mateo began SRFACS as Spanish speakers and leave fluent in Spanish, English and French. These students exemplify successful SRFACS students. Felicitations, Mateo and Jacobo!

  • February 2021

    Employee Awards February 2021

    Sandy Deas - Steele Lane Elementary

    It is Steele Lane’s great pleasure to award Sandy Deas as our Classified Employee of the Month. Sandy has worked at Steele Lane for 38 years. Sandy uses her never-failing determination and intelligence to improve all that she does. This has
    become even more evident during our transition to the distance learning model. While she will be the first to tell you that technology isn’t her first love, she has not only mastered it, evidenced by her engaging Zoom meetings but also excelled at
    adapting appropriate online materials to use with her students. She also added a Fun Friday learning class that instills a love of learning and space to build upon the community of the classroom. Sandy is a thoughtful educator that has made it a priority to connect with each student that she works with and ensure that they progress through their academic goals. She even continues to check in with students who are not on her caseload any longer and remembers little tidbits about them. She is kind, caring, and her sweet demeanor draws people in. She has a morale-boosting presence about her that creates a space for students and other staff to thrive. Her flexibility and willingness to collaborate with all is such an asset to the Steele Lane community. Every school should come equipped with its own Sandy Deas.

    Lisa Dean - Steele Lane Elementary

    It is with gratitude that I present Lisa Dean the Certificated Employee of the Month Award for Steele Lane Elementary School. Lisa is the type of educator we all wish we had as a student. She has a magical way of creating a community within her classroom that creates a bond that cannot be broken. She plans and implements project-based learning projects that students talk about long after third grade, and if you bring up her name to our sixth-grade class, and they were lucky enough to have her, you will hear gasps from them followed by a dissertation of how much they loved being in her class. One of our parents even expressed his appreciation for Mrs. Dean by saying: "Mrs. Dean has been a huge blessing to my kids and my life this year. The way she teaches the kids and treats them is amazing. Her calmness and structure have kept my kids sane. It has been, especially on my son, the best influence my kids have had this year.” The students in Mrs. Dean’s room own their learning and are proud to share it with others. As the proud principal of Steele Lane, I look forward to receiving work sent from her students about an animal they are studying or even their still life portraits of avocados. They are proud of the work they accomplish and this is in part because of the environment and culture that Lisa has built within her classroom community. Lisa also has been helpful during this school year with her willingness to take on and overcome the challenges of distance learning. She volunteered to be a combination teacher at the beginning of the school year to support the school as a whole. She also often supports staff with her creative lesson design or to be a thought partner with other educators, all while being a mom of two under five.

    Rebecca Blessing - Santa Rosa Middle School

    It is with great pride and pleasure that Santa Rosa Middle School nominates Rebecca Blessing as the Santa Rosa City Schools Certificated Employee of the Month. Becky’s colleagues are amazed at her energy and dedication to each and every student. “She works so hard to create a personal relationship with each and every student both before and during distance learning. She is always searching for creative ways to connect with the students. She truly sees and tries to teach them as individual learners, realizing that everyone learns differently”. Becky puts her heart and soul into everything she does.  This is felt by her students, colleagues, and SRMS families because she has a kind heart and a passionate soul.  Becky is always willing to meet students where they are, empathize with their perspective, and motivate them to be their best selves. “She also is a tireless collaborator who brings fresh ideas to school-wide initiatives”. One of the most common attributes her colleagues recognize, is her positive enthusiasm and going above and beyond to connect with ALL of her students. “She spends hours creating lessons that are engaging, fun and challenging”. One of her colleagues describes her “as a ray of sunshine”. She immediately lights up the room when she walks in. Her positive energy and happiness is so contagious! She is such a hard worker, and has so much love for what she does in her classroom for her students. Becky is incredibly talented as a teacher and knows how to reach her students through creative lessons.  She has been an incredible addition to Santa Rosa middle School.  “She works very well with her colleagues and is willing to coach student teachers and help them develop their style”.  She has been willing to teach not just math but also a few sections of Science which she does an amazing job. We are all very proud of Becky and we are very pleased to honor her as Santa Rosa City Schools Certificated Employee of the month.

    Veronica Cordero - Santa Rosa Middle School

    It is with great pride and pleasure that the faculty at Santa Rosa Middle School nominates Veronica Cordero as the Santa Rosa City Schools Middle School Classified Employee of the Month. Veronica has had a tremendously positive impact on Santa Rosa Middle School since she began working in her Family Engagement role in 2019.  She has garnered a deserved reputation as someone students and families can trust to help present their perspectives and needs to the school community. One of our counselors describes her as,  “Veronica treats everyone she encounters with implicit positive regard and respect, and she has helped forge bounds between our family community and school personnel that have not been seen before her tenure”.  Veronica is also a wonderful mentor for our students, and has created and run a daily check in program, classroom intervention groups, schoolwide website and online interaction activities, and evening parent information nights.  Currently in a masters program to become a PPS school counselor, Veronica soon will be transitioning to the position she has a calling for. One of her colleagues describes her as “a very thoughtful person”. She works hard to accomplish her goals. She goes out of her way to help students, parents, staff, and anyone who asks her for help. She is always there with a smile. A staff member says, “besides being a great team player and asset to SRMS staff, Veronica is always up for a challenge. With her innovative thinking and connection to the parents of our community, she strives to find new ways to best support our students and families.”  Veronica is one of the most hardworking people I know. Not only is she a great co-worker, but she is always there to help you with anything you need. We are all very proud of Veronica and we are very pleased to honor her as Santa Rosa City Schools Classified Employee of the month.

    Johana Perdomo - Santa Rosa High School

    It is with great pleasure and admiration that Santa Rosa HIgh School recognizes Johana Perdomo as our certificated employee of the month. As an academic counselor, Johana moved into a new role at Santa Rosa High School as an MTSS counselor. Johana handled this transition or emphasis and workload with hard work and determination to make a difference for students, especially during distance learning. As well as stepping into the MTSS counselor role, Johana also took on the EL counselor's role at Santa Rosa High this year. She allowed students and parents a single contact person at Santa Rosa High, who is highly trained, in supporting families learning to navigate the school system. Johana is an open and intelligent communicator, committed to student and teacher learning, organized and thorough in her work ethic, and a vital team member. A fiercely dedicated counselor, Johana works to ensure all students get as many opportunities for high-quality education and curriculum as possible, especially those students who typically struggle. Johana can juggle multiple roles effectively and with success. Johana is not only our MTSS/EL  counselor, but she sits on our ELAC Committee, chairs our Title 1 Targeted student group, coordinates our 504 programs, and sits on numerous SST's and IEPs. Her work shows that Johana can balance and manage multiple tasks and duties without adverse impacts on her work, making her a sought after mentor and continued leader on campus. Furthermore, Johana is a skilled and open communicator. Johana is confident in expressing herself and attentive to honest dialogue with colleagues. Two pertinent examples of Johana's innate ability to communicate effectively come from her willingness to discuss difficult topics with colleagues and her ability to create a warm and inviting environment for people. Johana is a skilled counselor with extensive knowledge of graduation requirements and what students need to be successful in High School and helps guide them as they move on to College or Career. Johana possesses the dedication, knowledge, and professionalism to be successful and spends her time encouraging and advocating for our most vulnerable students.  We are so lucky to have Johana on our staff and are blessed to work with her!

    Gary Arkoff - Santa Rosa High School

    It is both a privilege and an honor to recognize Gary Arkoff as our Classified Employee of the month.  This year of Distance Learning has challenged all of our staff to work in positions that look entirely different from what they have in years prior.  As our campus supervisor, Gary has pivoted to making phone calls, distributing textbooks, organizing locker rooms, and a thousand other essential tasks that have sprung up because of our students' needs. Most significantly, Gary deserves this recognition because of the connections he has formed with our students and their families while they try to navigate our current situation. Gary exemplifies the warmth and determination that our community needs right now.  As a community liaison, Gary reaches out to families daily and has proven pivotal in connecting students and families to the various supports that our school offers. He keeps morale high amongst students by being 100% engaged in any task thrown his way. And it's the way he engages that is the most impressive. Gary always maintains an exterior of positivity and humor, even in the most intense situations. On several occasions, the staff even needs to remind Gary to break for lunch because he is so engrossed in the task at hand. Gary has participated in every material distribution and school event since we have been in distance learning. He has also engaged in many intense and effective conversations with struggling families. Over these past six months, he has been recognized by many in our parent and teacher community as the Panther family's outstretched arms. Gary's sterling reputation as one of our most well-liked staff members did not begin in the pandemic. Gary started as our campus advisor three years ago and quickly became famous amongst our student body. He is even Insta famous, being the star of his own SRHS student-created Instagram page. Gary has stepped up to be a figure of support and guidance to a community in peril. He chooses to reach out of his comfort zone daily and become a guiding light to those in need.  Santa Rosa High School has provided a level of connection to our students and families that would not be possible without Gary Arkoff at the forefront.

    Student SLES Feb 2021

    We are so proud to honor Brenda Crespo Solorio as Santa Rosa City Schools Student of the Month for Steele Lane. Brenda has been at Steele Lane for her entire elementary school career and she has, over the years, grown into a confident, go-getter who is absolutely going to make the world a better place because she is a seeker of knowledge, solutions, kindness, and social justice and she does it all with contagious enthusiasm. Brenda’s 6th-grade teacher, Ms. Gillespie writes, “I have had Brenda for a total of 3 years now: 1st grade, 5th grade, and now 6th grade. She has consistently been one of the kindest, most thoughtful, enthusiastic students I've ever had in over 20 years of teaching. As a first-grader, she would bring me a drawing every Monday morning, and now, as a 6th grader, she demonstrates kindness by sending me messages in the mornings, at first...kindly letting me know if I've forgotten to link up the morning message video or letting me know that the documents in google classroom didn’t have the proper permissions. Now, as we’ve evolved through all the technology, she often messages me to let me know that I did a good job! Brenda finds a way to enjoy pretty much everything she does. These days, in class, we talk a lot about looking for joy in all situations and she has fully embraced this and shows enthusiasm for almost everything we do in class. She has been known to cheer out loud (accidentally) when I announce it's time for math. Brenda’s 3rd-grade teacher, Mrs. Sapp, says, “Here are a few words that come to mind when I think of Brenda: kind, compassionate, responsible, and intelligent.” Her Kindergarten teacher, Mrs. Hughes, says that she “remembers her being bright and shiny like a new penny. Always kind, smart, and a hard worker. She always wore a smile and was ready to help. She is a wonderful person.” Another teacher states, “Brenda is like sunshine in human form.” Brenda has always been a stand-out student, and that continues with distance learning. She has basically become the boss of distance learning by being persistent, staying organized, and checking for clarification. She comes to class every day and attends every single one of her teacher’s office hours...sometimes seeking support and clarification on lessons and assignments,but more often just to visit, chat about the world, and show her most recent drawings. Brenda likes to help her friends and is truly almost like a personal assistant for her teacher, offering to text classmates to let them know zoom has started. We can always count on her to jump in and help without being asked and to do it with a smile. Brenda consistently goes above and beyond in all of her work and especially on projects, often asking if she can add more than the rubric entails. We are so proud of Brenda and although we will miss her so much as she moves on to middle school, we cannot wait to see the important shifts she will make in the world!

    Student SRMS Feb 2021

    It is with great pride and pleasure that the faculty at Santa Rosa Middle School nominates Luis Hernandez as the Santa Rosa City Schools Middle School Student of the Month. Luis is a student who is very thoughtful and analytical.  A few of his teachers describe Luis as “ not afraid of sharing his ideas with the class. He encourages others with his willingness to participate, and is ready to help his classmates during breakout groups. He gives more that is asked of him on every assignment, and is open to suggestions (sometimes even redoing entire projects because he thought of a better way to do it!). We are so grateful to have Luis in our class, especially during distance learning”. Luis is a young man who takes it to heart to be the best student possible, who is not afraid to make a mistake. Another teacher explains, “Luis always tries his best and he will always want to improve. He is willing to ask questions and help others even during distance learning. He is a quiet person, but once you talk to him, you will realize that he is kind and caring.”  We all are very proud of Luis and we all are very pleased to honor him as the Santa Rosa City Schools Middle School “Student of the Month.”

    Student SRHS Feb 2021

    It is with great pleasure and admiration that we select Matias Fullerton as Student of the Month.  In a school year filled with much uncertainty, anxiety, and disappointment for many students, Matias made the conscious decision to continue to be a servant student leader on the virtual campus of Santa Rosa High School.  As the current ASB President, this Senior, maintains a 4.41 cumulative grade point average, concurrently takes Junior College courses, and has just begun a part time job. But most importantly, Matias deserves this recognition because of the student leadership he displays amongst his peers, his school, and the greater community of Santa Rosa City.  As ASB President, Matias leads the group of students in Student Government to plan and execute activities that build spirit and community while separated from each other.  He keeps morale high and perpetuates the belief that we can maintain our traditions at Santa Rosa High School while pivoting to create safe activities that bring the students of Santa Rosa High School together.  Matias is involved in the student production of a monthly newcast called the Panther Prowl. He was instrumental in working with our neighbors on McDonald Ave to gather decorations for our Halloween Drive-Thru. He coordinated the movie selection for our drive-in movie night, decorated and set up trees for our Holiday Lights event. Matias was one of many student voices for our recent WASC review, volunteering to attend a WASC Visiting Committee meeting after school hours. Matias is currently working to develop a plan to safely offer our Seniors moments together as we start to begin the end of the school year activities. Matias’s civic mindedness is not limited to SRHS. He was active in the November election, volunteering his time at polling places in California and Arizona. He has served as a student all three previous years as a class officer and community volunteer.  But this year, he chose to lead when he knew being a school leader would be difficult.  He decided to stay positive and to spread that positivity and hope to his classmates.  Santa Rosa High School has been able to provide meaningful activities to our students because of the can-do attitude of Matias Fullerton.  He truly exemplifies our Panther Principles to: Be safe, Be Respectful, Be Responsible, Be Accepting.

  • January 2021

    Employees of the Month january 2021

    Heather Hecker - Albert F. Biella Elementary

    Heather Hecker was chosen to be Biella's certificated employee of the month.  Heather is a well rounded professional. Her passion to serve, empathize, and support her community has allowed her to be an agent of change. Heather often celebrates her students’ accomplishments by being courageous and doing whatever it takes to bring success to others.  As we are in COVID learning, Heather gracefully takes on any challenges that come her way.  She is positive and strives to stay innovative by seeing the glass half full. Authentic servant leadership is sometimes being an instrumental player behind the scenes and has the ability to bring forth a strong team.  Heather is a humble but mighty team player who has leadership qualities that are admirable.  She is well respected by her peers and community.  Heather has the ability to be a support to others in ways that makes her an ultimate team player. A neat fact about Heather is, she was brought back to her calling as an educator after realizing her passion.  She shares a memory of being a young girl, lining up her stuffed animals, knowing she was always meant to be an educator. Heather celebrates her 15 year in education.  We are blessed to have Heather in Santa Rosa City Schools.

    Marie Wells - Albert F. Biella Elementary

    Marie Wells was chosen to be Biella's classified employee of the month. Marie serves as our lead noon duty supervisor. She often shares that she continues to work because she loves the kids. Marie leads our noon duty supervisors with little to no direction.   During COVID education, she has taken the lead to support Biella distribution efforts, online engagement through recess, and a special project to teach students geography through a video segment called, “Where in the World is Billy the Blue Heron?” Marie is committed to being an active member on campus to support whole system engagement.  She also serves on many committees on campus such as the school site council, our Tier 1 team, and takes on additional duties to support the needs of our school. One neat fact about Marie is she has been an employee at Biella since the school was opened in 1989. This year, she embarks on her 31st year with Santa Rosa City Schools.  Marie is an asset to our team and we are happy she is here with us at Biella Elementary School.

    Dana Campbell - James Monroe Elementary

    It is Monroe Elementary School’s honor to recognize Dana Campbell as our Classified Employee of the Month. Ms. Campbell has been an Instructional Assistant at Monroe for the past 7 years and we were lucky enough to be able to hire her as our Library Assistant last year. Ms. Campbell is an extremely hard worker who is highly self motivated.  She demonstrates caring and compassion in her interactions with both students and staff and is always willing to go above and beyond to ensure the success of our programs. In this time of uncertainty and change, Ms. Campbell has taken the initiative to coordinate twice weekly materials distributions.  This has afforded our school site the consistent opportunity to safely disseminate school and curricular supplies.  Ms. Campbell works closely with teachers to ensure they have the supplies they need for students and has been known to support teachers by taking the time to go into their rooms to find necessary materials when a teacher is not working from site.  She has a kind and generous heart and truly cares for children and their families. In her time at Monroe, Ms. Campbell has proven to be a team player who is always willing to step in and support our students and our staff.  Ms. Campbell is a lifelong learner who willingly puts herself forward for the benefit of our community. She is flexible and does whatever is needed. This past fall Ms. Campbell sewed dozens of cloth masks that she then gifted to school staff. Ms. Campbell is an exemplary individual and we are grateful that she is at our site. She is a true asset to the Monroe community.

    Meryl Blomseth - James Monroe Elementary

    It is Monroe Elementary School’s distinct pleasure to recognize Meryl Blomseth as our Certificated Employee of the Month. Mrs. Blomseth has taught 5th grade at Monroe for the past five years. Mrs. Blomseth has a "can do" attitude and is often the first person to step up and offer to help.  She has a calm and comforting demeanor and motivates students to perform at their best.  She has a positive presence even though we are not currently present together. Mrs. Blomseth sponsors our Student Leadership club where she meets weekly with students of varying grade levels.  Through this club she has organized a Toy Drive, in partnership with Piner High School, where every KA-3rd grade student was given a toy for the holidays at a special drive through distribution.  She also helps to bring a sense of normalcy to our students and staff by championing school wide spirit days. In the classroom, whether in person or remotely, Mrs. Blomseth learns and knows her students and challenges them to think and to express themselves in a positive manner.  She finds a way to get the most reticent individuals to open up and share.  She plans lessons and activities that encourage and allow for students to be actively engaged and in charge of their own learning.  She has participated in CRSH, Culturally Responsive, Sustaining, and Humanizing training for the past two years and is currently applying those principals to her work with students.  Specifically while working with students to research new school names with an emphasis on learning about leaders from racial and ethnic minority groups. In addition, Mrs. Blomseth is mentoring a veteran teacher new to her grade level team, and has recently become our newest SRTA rep. Mrs. Blomseth, thank you for all you have done to inspire and challenge your students and fellow educators.  We appreciate you.

    Sandra Frost - Proctor Terrace Elementary

    Sandra Frost is the Reading Intervention specialist at Proctor Terrace. She works with multiple grade levels and multiple students to provide support in the most critical piece of a young child’s school experience; that of learning to decode sounds, words, and phrases, of becoming a fluent reader, and of discovering the joy and adventure of books and literature. We appreciate all of Sandra’s contributions to the Proctor Terrace Community and celebrate her with this award- Congratulations, Sandra! Sandra’s daughters Emma and Christina attended Proctor Terrace elementary school as primary students. Sandra started as a staff member at Proctor doing Noon Supervision, then in 2008 achieved her substitute teaching license and started subbing for the teachers she had gotten to know over the years. In 2014 was hired in the instructional assistant position to take advantage of her skills in a more permanent role at the site. Sandra says this about her role at Proctor Terrace: “I liked the idea of helping students that are struggling and working with students one on one or in small group settings. I love the relationships that I have built over the years with students and teachers. It gives me great joy to see students progress however small or big their progress might be. Some students only need a little boost, some students I work with for a long time. Every student is unique and that is what makes my job interesting.” Once again, Congratulations- you are a unique, talented staff member and we are happy to honor your efforts and dedication with this award.

    Tine Hiatt - Proctor Terrace Elementary

    We are thrilled to honor and celebrate Tina Hiatt of Proctor Terrace with this award. Congratulations! Tina is a teacher of 5th and 6th graders at Proctor Terrace Elementary. Many colleagues of Tina's at Proctor Terrace have had their children in Tina's classroom. One colleague shared that every student in Tina’s class was fortunate to be in that class, because during a critical time of their growth as students, Tina was instrumental in their success as they graduated from Proctor Terrace and moved into their future academic careers. Tina first came to Proctor Terrace when there was an opening in 5th and 6th grade, but there were so many applicants that Tina wondered if she had a chance at the job. When she came to interview she felt a connection right away to the school and to the staff, and we are so lucky that she was hired to embark on a wonderful career here with our Proctor Terrace community. Tina’s own children went to Proctor Terrace, which helped her build many close personal and professional relationships with her colleagues. She taught a few different grade levels, but then settled into fifth grade in collaboration with her partner teacher, Susan Feige. Tina and her partner teacher think of all of their students as one big community, and both teachers teach all children. Tina and the fifth grade classrooms are known for many wonderful projects, field trips, and their large multi-grade musical productions. This work began with a simple talent show, but then morphed into a yearly musical production with set design, lighting, costumes, acting, and singing. All students who have had Tina Hiatt as their teacher understand that she focuses on the whole student, that she never gives up on working towards the success of each individual, and that she respects differences in the personality of each learner. Tina is introspective and reflective about her own teaching practice. She is a constant learner and always willing to try something new to help her students. Tina is organized, flexible, and plans ahead to identify problems and pitfalls long before they impact students. We appreciate Tina, and all the contributions she has made to the success of our students over such a long period of time. We appreciate her for the person she is and for the great relationships she has built within our community- we are richer in our daily experience because of Tina. Congratulations, and thank you!

    Student of Month Jan 2021

    Kebron was chosen to be Biella's student of the month because he has the qualities of not only an exemplary student but he is relentless on being the best version of himself each and every day. Kebron was positively acknowledged by not only his teacher but members on campus who shared the following: Kebron is overall a well rounded student and deserves such an honorable recognition. He is incredibly hard working, humble, patient, and always willing to help others through his growth mindset. Kebron is always willing to excel in academics often asking for more challenging assignments. He actively participates in class when most students prefer not to.  His courageous nature helps bring a sense of normalcy to the classroom environment. He is also very respectful of his classmates and always wants to hear the ideas of others when they are willing to share. Kebron was recommended to be a positive role model for the group of students who needed support. Kebron is kind, patient, and respectful as a positive role model.  He was willing to go the extra mile for others even when other students struggled to do the right thing. Kebron has shown such determination and resiliency through any obstacles.  He has such a bright future ahead of him.

    student jan 2021

    It is our distinct pleasure to present Soleyma Larios Aparicio as the Santa Rosa City Schools Student of the Month for Monroe Elementary School. Soleyma has been a student at Monroe since Kindergarten and is now in 6th Grade. Soleyma is in Student Leadership and is an active participant in whatever class she attends and she attends them all, including PE and Music.  She is a great leader in small breakout groups.  She consistently gets her work done and goes the extra mile on her projects and assignments. When her class met with the Children's Museum she caught the eye of the landscape architect in charge of the multimillion dollar project who was impressed with her questions and suggestions.  Soleyma is able to articulate her thoughts clearly with solid reasoning.  She is well-liked by her peers due to her kindness and respectful nature. Her science teacher shares that she participates well in class by answering and asking questions and she completes her independent work with rigor.  She takes on optional maker projects and approaches them critically and creatively. She expresses herself well across a range of media. Soleyma is a solution seeker and a positive influence for her classmates.  She often expresses ideas about making the world a better place.  She is always willing to volunteer and help.  She is a bright light. When asked about her future she shared that she would like to become a lawyer. Congratulations Soleyma!

    Student of month jan 2021

    We are excited to present this award to Mateo Martinez, a 6th grade student at Proctor Terrace Elementary, who is supported by his wonderful teachers Tina Hiatt and Tara Lyon. Congratulations to Mateo and his family, we are very proud of you! Mateo is a student who puts himself fully into every learning opportunity and partners with his teachers to make progress. He is super positive in every situation, pleasant to work with, and appreciative of others. His teachers see him as a great problem solver, both in academic learning and interpersonally, able to stay above any drama in a mature way. He takes positive action without needing to draw attention to himself about those positive things he brings to the classroom and the group learning. Mateo is great at public speaking. He has completed a number of video assignments on the classroom Seesaw platform where he clearly and concisely explains his scientific thinking. He recently recorded videos explaining how he knows the Earth is round and explained why he thinks so many people are afraid of bugs. He provides a clear introduction, personal details and never forgets a conclusion. Communication is his strength both in the classroom and within his written assignments. He confidently conveys ideas and contributes to class discussions on a regular basis. An especially thoughtful attribute that Mateo possesses is his ability to be humble. He is not fearful to admit when he does not have an answer or when his idea of something has changed over time. He can retell a moment from his past and draw you in with his positive attitude and warm smile. His classmates enjoy his curious nature and his company, and trust him entirely because of the honesty he brings to any given situation. With just a smile he can put you at ease and be a thoughtful listener and friend. Mateo strives to be a good person and a good friend to others. Mateo contributes to group and class discussions and seeks to understand the ideas of others. In a recent sixth grade writing assignment where he was asked to write a postcard to 2020, Mateo writes, “It was a rough year, but we got through it.” This is a student who doesn’t give up and doesn’t let the worst of times get him down. Instead, he lifts others up and makes every learning moment count. Without a doubt, Mateo will continue to grow as a student and as a person, and Proctor Terrace is so proud to honor him today.

  • December 2020

    Staff awards December 2020

    Christine Snyder - Hidden Valley Elementary

    Mrs. Snyder is a third grade teacher at Hidden Valley Elementary, Mrs. Snyder is greatly respected by staff, students and parents.  As a dedicated employee for the past 25 years and having taught at Helen Lehman Elementary before coming to Hidden Valley Elementary, Mrs. Snyder encompasses all of the qualities of a Teacher of the Month.  She is a master of her craft, creating a classroom environment that both welcomes and challenges her students to reach their goals.  Mrs. Snyder is also a product of Santa Rosa City Schools, having attended Helen Lehman Elementary, Comstock Middle and Piner High School! Mrs. Snyder shows off her superhero teacher powers at Hidden Valley Elementary everyday teaching her students not only the joys of learning, but bringing energy, passion, commitment and dedication to our school community.  Last year in March when our schools went into distance learning, Mrs. Snyder led the charge in creating rich content, lesson plans and videos for students and parents.  She spent countless hours teaching her students and other staff members how to successfully navigate and learn about distance learning. She is involved and engaged in all areas of our school, bringing her expertise, knowledge and excitement to each group.  She is well-loved and well-respected by her peers, students, and parents known as a curricular and project leader on campus.  She is always available to lend her knowledge of technology to her colleagues as well as to the families in her classroom. Once again, it is our pleasure tonight to acknowledge and award Mrs. Snyder with the Santa Rosa City Schools Teacher of the Month Award!  Congratulations!

    Melissa Kelleher - Hidden Valley Elementary

    Mrs. Kelleher serves as the Instructional Materials Technician at Hidden Valley Elementary.  As such, she has taken her role to new heights for our district.  Along with organizing, coordinating, distributing and ensuring all of the curriculum for our teachers and students, Mrs. Kelleher has taken on several additional projects and programs. Mrs. Kelleher has taken on the entire collection and distribution of our chromebook technology.  She has coordinated all pick-up and drop-offs, supported students with exchanging chromebooks when needed, and has even delivered chromebooks to student’s homes when they have no form of transportation.  She is now coordinating the entire exchange of Kinder Academy and Kindergarten chromebooks to brand new touchscreen chromebooks this week! Mrs. Kelleher has also taken on the Herculean task of being in charge of the Hidden Valley Food Pantry.  Started just two years ago, our Food Pantry supplies boxes of food, fresh fruit and vegetables, milk, cheese, butter and even Thanksgiving Turkeys!  This amazing program supplies our families in need with food, toiletries and clothing.  We currently serve over 30 families with 51 students at Hidden Valley and this number has increased all year.  Thanks to funding from our PFO and community, the program is all self-funded.  This year, Mrs. Kelleher is collecting, wrapping and distributing Holiday Gifts for every student on our Food Pantry list! No child will go without a holiday present and no family will go without food, toiletries or clothes this year thanks to the hard work of Mrs. Kelleher and generosity of our community. For all of this and more, it is our pleasure to award Mrs. Melissa Kelleher with the Award for Classified Employee of the Month.  Congratulations!

    Paul Gaudreau - Rincon Valley Middle

    Paul Gaudreau has been a teacher at Rincon Valley Middle School for 3 years. During that time, he has taught a variety of classes including Maker, art, and the elective wheel.  In addition to teaching, Paul is also the advisor to the RVMS art club, whose members are responsible for a beautiful mural on campus that reminds students to be kind to each other. Paul believes art is to be seen and shared. With this in mind, he has curated many mini art installations in our front office showcasing the outstanding artwork his students create in class. During Distance Learning, Mr. Gaudreau has successfully created an art curriculum which engages students and inspires their creativity. Here is what one of his students parent had to say in an email to Mr. Navarro. (My student) has art as an elective this year. If I am honest, I was worried about how distance learning and art would play out. I am thrilled to say it has been a great way of expression and creativity for my daughter!  Mr. Gaudreau has been extremely engaging, creative, and patient as he stirs creativity in these kids. I have heard his teachings a few times and he has a great way of navigating questions and technique suggestions via zoom (which is no small task). I would imagine it's not easy to teach art virtually - but he has continued to teach with passion. We are forever thankful. Paul is always willing to step up when necessary, and during distance learning, we have had several opportunities for him to do so.  He willingly comes to our distribution days to help our kids get the materials they need to feel school success.  He welcomes them all with a smile which conveys how much he misses them and that he cares about them during these difficult times. I am so proud to have Mr. Gaudreau as a member of our Falcon Family. He is an exemplary educator.

    Veronica Del Querra - Rincon Valley Middle

    Veronica Del Querra is a dream employee.  She is one on whom I can always count upon. As the Business Office Tech at Rincon Valley Middle School, she always goes beyond expectations to ensure that our students are supported, nurtured, and have what they need to be successful in school.  She does all this in addition to her daily Business office duties. To say that Ms. DelQuerra takes pride in our school, just doesn’t encapsulate how much she cares.  She does everything she can to be sure that the time our students spend at school is the best that it can be. Veronica is kind, hardworking and works tirelessly to create a welcoming supportive environment in our front office. She greets all who enter with a smile and a welcoming word. Recently, Ms. Del Querra has gone beyond the call of duty because she saw that we had some very different needs due to online school and distance learning.  Even though the needs she observed were outside of her job description, she jumped up to volunteer in any way she could help. At the end of the 2019-20 school year, we needed to empty over 800 student hall and PE lockers.  She took on the task of organizing a very efficient system for making this happen.  She worked tirelessly to ensure every student got all their personal belongings and that our library receives all our textbooks.  This was no small feet.  Who in their right mind takes on the emptying of 800 middle school PE lockers?  Ms. DelQuerra does.  She saw a job that needed to be done so she created a system which worked for all. Ms. DelQuerra takes pride in her work, ensuring that all she does is done to the highest standard.  She will not settle for less because she insists that RVMS students need to shine. Veronica DelQuerra is a true Falcon and we are grateful to call her one of our own.

    Trevor Brady - Maria Carrillo High

    It is with great pleasure that Maria Carrillo acknowledges and honors Mr. Trevor Brady.  Mr. Brady came to us in 2012 as a new teacher.  He has proven to be an excellent teacher and a wonderful asset to the Maria Carrillo community. In Mr. Brady’s short tenure at Maria Carrillo, he has been involved on our campus in many facets: Leadership teacher, Puma Peer Advisor, Head Soccer Coach, and now one of our new Engagement Collaborators. With each position, Mr Brady commits himself to doing his very best and ensuring what he does and how he does it will have a positive impact for our students. Mr. Brady has distinguished himself with an ongoing commitment to innovative teaching strategies.  He engages his students through technology and a zest for creating a safe learning environment that invites students to take risks. Even during these interesting times, Mr Brady places connection before content at the heart of each of his lessons. He is willing to experiment, try out new ideas with his students then share his experiences with his colleagues.  Mr Brady is an excellent collaborator, communicator, and tinkerer - which makes him ideally suited for the Engagement Collaborator position. It is clear Mr. Brady understands the importance of a strong PUMA culture.  As one of the Puma Peer advisors, Mr. Brady has put in countless hours to develop fun activities and games that connect our freshmen to our school and our Graduate Profile.  This program is vital to the success of our freshmen.  We couldn’t do it without him! Mr. Brady has quickly become a teacher that is admired by his colleagues and adored by his students.  He represents all the qualities we are instilling in our students: powerful producer, universal citizen, masterful communicator and active learner.  We are lucky to have Mr. Brady as part of the Puma community, and it is an honor to recognize him with this award.

    Fessehai Woldeslassie - Maria Carrillo High

    It is a pleasure and honor to recognize Fessehai Woldeslassie, the Head Custodian, at Maria Carrillo High School.  He has been an employee and asset to the Puma community since August 9, 1996.  His contribution to our school is invaluable, and in all of his actions he thinks of the students, their safety and their wellbeing. Since the school closure in March, Mr Woldeslassie has worked tirelessly to ensure Maria Carrillo High School is clean, taken care of, and well manicured.  Each day I see him blowing leaves, watering plants, removing gum from the sidewalk, and doing whatever it takes to maintain the school and the grounds.  Because of Mr. Woldeslassie, our school is a place of pride. Mr. Woldeslassie has spent much time with our Assistant Principal, Mr Ettegui, ensuring we have all the necessary equipment to comply with the COVID 19 rules and protocols.  It is clear he is concerned for the health and safety of our staff - and he treats us like we are his family. Whether we are open to the public or closed, Mr Woldeslassie arrives on campus each morning at 6 am to begin his list of tasks for the day.  He is friendly, kind, helpful, and patient.  We are so grateful to Mr. Woldeslassie for his dedication and commitment to Maria Carrillo High School. Our school is a better place because of him.

    Student award Dec 2020

    Carlo Cuniberti is very deserving of this honor.  He is a true Hidden Valley Hawk.  Carlo is thoughtful, kind, hard working, and dedicated to helping out.  He is extremely polite and respectful to classmates and adults.  Carlo never gives up!  He has a positive attitude about school and accepts challenges with a smile on his face. Carlo was in Leadership last year and took the responsibilities very seriously. Our school had mounds and mounds of wood chips on the playground that needed to be moved and Carlo spent every lunch hour hauling wheelbarrow after wheelbarrow to where the chips were needed. Every activity Leadership sponsored, Carlo was always there to help out. This year, even through distance learning, he has remained positive.  He is engaged, asks questions, and brings humor into our zoom meetings.  Carlo has a heart of gold and everyone at Hidden Valley is so proud of him. Once again, it is our honor tonight to present the Santa Rosa City Schools Student of the Month Award to Carlo Cuniberti. Congratulations!

    student award Dec 2020

    Liam McGarva is an eighth grade student at Rincon Valley Middle School.  Liam is an outstanding student both academically and interpersonally.  His open and honest demeanor has made him a role model among his peers, and admired by the staff at Rincon.  Quite simply Liam McGarva is the type of student every parent wants their kids to emulate. Academically Liam is a dedicated student and has maintained a 4.00 GPA during his entire tenure at Rincon Valley Middle School.  In Seventh Grade, Liam was awarded student of the quarter for his hard work and dedication to his academics as well as for his positive and cheerful demeanor.   In addition to his awards, Liam works hard to ensure his school is a safe place by being a positive role model. If you need a hand, Liam is there to offer his.  He is just that kind of guy.   He was also a member of the RVMS Cross Country team. Here is a small sample of what some of his current teachers have to say about Liam: Liam is incredibly responsible and trustworthy. He works well with his peers and has a contagious personality. Liam makes others around him rise up to his level of maturity just by observing his behavior and how he conducts himself. He is well deserving of this award. - Mr. Meyer.   Liam appears to be on top of everything. He is super organized and is quite a capable student. He consistently creates quality work which shows thought, insight and a deep understanding. - Ms. Kubiak Liam is a hard worker. He shows up to class every day on time and always completes his work. Liam is an A student in every facet. Liam ran cross country last year for RVMS and logged a lot of running miles around our school. Most importantly Liam is just a really nice young man. He is always smiling and in a positive mood. He is very approachable and always willing to help. - Mr. Heald.  In closing, everyone at Rincon Valley Middle School is very proud of Liam, and along with the Santa Rosa City School Board of Education, congratulates him on being selected the Santa Rosa City Schools Student of the Month for December 2020.

    student award Dec 2020

    It is with great joy and honor that Maria Carrillo High School recognizes Ella Peirce as the Santa Rosa City Schools Student of the Month.  I feel the best way to honor this amazingly accomplished young woman is to share the stories from her teachers: Mr Trevor Brady - Puma Peers and AP Government - As a 2 year Puma Peer I truly believe she works hard to create engaging activities because she genuinely cares about her 9th graders and wants Carrillo to be a more positive and inclusive environment where all students feel some sort of connection. I currently have Ella Peirce in AP Gov where she is equally stellar. She hasn't missed one of my classes, turned in all her assignments (which are always completed at a high level), she asks questions during Zoom and collaborates well with her teammates.  Ella is a ray of light! Mr Paul Vanek - AP Literature - I cannot imagine distance learning without Ella. Every day, she is the most attentive and enthusiastic participant among all my classes. She leads her group—more from example than in any more assertive way—and always with devotion to whatever task I ask of them. In a class that is typically run through vigorous discussion, Ella helps make some of that intellectual exchange that discussions afford possible. She is happy, excited to learn, and always humble about what her goals are. Without any prompting, Ella always goes further into whatever I am teaching than even all my other talented and devoted students. Mr Matt Bringedahl - Jazz Band and Symphonic Band - Ella is one of the premiere musicians at MCHS.  She is currently the lead alto in the top jazz band and the principal flute in the Honors Symphonic Band. Ella has been a core member of the music program for the entirety of her time here at MCHS. I think what impresses me the most about her is that she is a remarkable leader and demands respect from her peers not through fear and intimidation, but through her ability to demonstrate concepts and ideas as such a fantastic musician.  She also participates in just about every extra curricular musical activity presented to her; including playing multi-reed parts in the last three musicals, learning a new instrument to participate more in depth for jazz bands, auditioning for regional and state level honor bands, and participating in music department trips and fundraisers.  Even now during distance learning she is pushing herself and her peers to be better musicians every single day!  Her most recent achievements include a few rather large soloist demonstrations from our online concert last week and her inclusion in a leadership role into the NorCal Honor Band.  I am super proud of her and the work that she does. As demonstrated in these short descriptions of Ella, she is an amazing student who we are proud to call a PUMA.


  • November 2020

    November employees of the month

    Wendy Snetsinger - Abraham Lincoln Elementary

    Wendy Snetsinger has been an influential teacher for the past twenty-five years, the last ten of which have been at Abraham Lincoln. Wendy is not just an exceptional teacher, yet a teacher who has taught every grade Kindergarten through 6th grade throughout her career. As a teacher, Wendy’s dedication is not limited to the bell schedule each day. For the past two years, she has also been a part of the Advanced Learner Plan and Services (ALPS) committee, the Multi-Tiered System of Supports (MTSS), and a Lead Teacher for Abraham Lincoln. In addition, Wendy has been a tutor for the Migrant Education program for the past five years. This does not include all of the other areas she has influenced such as bringing the Gang Resistance Education and Training (GREAT) program to the 5th graders at Abraham Lincoln, as well as bringing back student government and spirit weeks to Abraham Lincoln, being an SRTA representative and being a member of School Site Council. Wendy is not only dedicated to her instruction with the students, yet also to the relationships she builds with the students on an individual level.  As a Lead Teacher, Wendy’s relationship with the students is key when having to counselor or discipline students. Wendy takes the time to listen to the students and guide them to making better decisions. Wendy not only gives 100%, but is someone who consistently goes above and beyond. Her positive and friendly demeanor makes working with her enjoyable. Wendy is a team player and collaborates with the entire staff, including the administration. An example of Wendy being a team player was this year when she volunteered to move from fifth grade to first grade to prevent numerous other staff members having to shift grade levels.  Wendy is flexible and always willing and ready to work tirelessly for the Lincoln staff, students, parents and community. Wendy Snetsinger is a tremendous asset to Abraham Lincoln!

    Martin Cortez - Abraham Lincoln Elementary

    To say Martin Cortez is the head custodian at Abraham Lincoln does not suffice. Martin is an essential part to the Abraham Lincoln family and community! Martin joined Abraham Lincoln as the head custodian in 2019.  Prior to joining Abraham Lincoln he worked at Montgomery High School. Martin takes pride in his work and anything he does. Martin is constantly seen working on campus and in classrooms making sure the campus is taken care of, safe and presentable at all times. He builds relationships with everyone he encounters; staff, students and parents. He is a role model to everyone and was awarded the Abraham Lincoln monthly Life Skills award of Integrity. Martin is never without a smile, is positive, kind, sincere, energetic, a team player and willing to go above and beyond every day! He will be the first to lend a hand, open a door and go the extra mile without even being asked. His pride for Abraham Lincoln is seen not only in his tremendous work, but in how he respects and treats everyone he encounters. Martin Cortez is an amazing employee and well deserving of this award!

    Mary Anna Maloney - Luther Burbank Elementary

    Mary Anna Maloney is a Teacher on Special Assignment at Luther Burbank Elementary School and has been in education for over 24 years. Prior to becoming a Teacher on Special Assignment, she taught Kindergarten through 4th grade and served as an instructional coach and BTSA support provider. Her experiences in education have assisted her in successfully working alongside teachers to support the students at Burbank. When asked what she enjoys most about her role, she indicated she likes helping teachers with their varying needs, seeing learning progression from KA to 6th grade, and working with students in the different grade levels with a variety of teaching materials. Her love for students and learning is infectious. Ms. Maloney is devoted to her work, has a positive approach to all situations, and goes above and beyond to support teachers and their students. She is a life-long learner and models that for students and staff -- which has been instrumental as we navigate distance learning together.  From supporting identified students with targeted interventions to doing home visits, she is extremely committed to supporting positive student outcomes. Burbank appreciates Ms. Maloney’s outstanding commitment to serving our school community and congratulates her on this recognition.

    Ernesto Sanchez - Luther Burbank Elementary

    Ernesto Sanchez is an Instructional Assistant at Burbank, who serves both Special Education and English Learners. He has been a part of the Burbank School Community for over 36 years. Mr. Sanchez strives to create an environment where students feel welcomed, connected, and valued. He is extremely dedicated and passionate about his work. Students gravitate towards him and appreciate his humor and kindness.  Mr. Sanchez is a role model for students and brings out the best in every kid. He is authentic and approaches each day as a gift -- focusing on the positive, all the things he is thankful for, and what he can do to best serve the students and families at Burbank. In addition to his role at Burbank he teaches a Community Outreach ESL class and a Grammar class, through the Adult Literacy Program of Sonoma County. Mr. Sanchez also wanted to thank Ms. Pena, the RSP teacher, who he has worked alongside for 16 years for all of the support she has provided him. Burbank is proud to have Mr. Sanchez as a part of the Burbank staff and is thankful for all of the support he provides to students, staff, and families every day.

    Casey Cunningham - Ridgway High

    Casey Cunningham has been a teacher at Ridgway High School for 13 years. During that time he has taught a variety of classes including math, personal finance, Cyber High, and physical education. In addition to teaching, Casey is also the advisor to thirty students, responsible for helping them navigate Ridgway, be successful, and either graduate from Ridgway or return to their previous schools. Casey is always willing to step up when necessary: working on district-wide alternative education committees; creating a video to celebrate the unusual 2020 graduation, and working on developing videos to explain the uniqueness that is Ridgway to various audiences. Casey takes staff concerns to the administrators under whom he has worked, and has coached softball, basketball and volleyball teams. Casey coordinates basketball tournaments between the nearby continuation schools’ teams, and arranged for the opportunity for Ridgway kids to attend professional basketball games, even arranging for the kids to play on the court during half -time at a Golden State Warriors’ game. In the current environment, Casey is working on a project to help raise the graduation rate by bridging the gap between the comprehensive schools and Ridgway; to share information and build better communication to help students get referred to Ridgway in the proper time to be able to make up credits and graduate with their cohort.  He is also working to develop an alternative schedule to help Ridgway’s students who are struggling with distance learning.  Perhaps most difficult of all, Casey became our WASC coordinator during the most recent cycle after authoring the mid-term visit report for the previous cycle.  Ridgway is fortunate to have Casey as an important member of the school staff.

    Marilyn Hurtado - Ridgway High

    Ridgway High School has so many classified staff that are amazing.  Tonight we would like to Honor Marilyn Hurtado.  She became the Ridgway Attendance Technician in January 2018. It was apparent that Marilyn was immediately able to handle a difficult, many faceted position. She not only had to keep track of daily student attendance, but she also supported teachers and students with grace and patience when met with a difficult situation.  Marilyn is bi-lingual and never hesitated to help when staff members needed assistance with attendance, locating a student or making a phone call home for an advisor for our Spanish speaking families. In January 2020, Marilyn was promoted to our registrar. This is a complex and demanding position due to enrolling new students every three weeks. Marilyn is responsible for enrolling the students into our school, contacting their previous school, requesting and collecting the students’ cumulative records and drop grades, and then updating their transcripts. This could be adding upwards of 350 new students each year. In addition, students may require a schedule change and they are able to do this every three weeks on an as needed basis.  This can be 70-80 schedule changes every three weeks. The tasks of the registrar at Ridgway is too numerous to list as Ridgway is a unique school with many demands. Marilyn has gone above and beyond recently in regards to the registrar position.  She has stepped up and has demonstrated courage, compassion and tenacity.  Although soft spoken and reserved, Marilyn makes it a point to welcome every student, family, and staff member each morning with a smile.  She is able to maintain a high degree of attention to detail and accuracy in her record keeping amidst the controlled chaos in the front office.  Marilyn is an outstanding employee who is able to multitask efficiently and effectively in the attendance department.  She is self-motivated and a team player that is much appreciated. She takes great pride in her work and is beloved by all.  She has been an excellent addition to the Ridgway staff and is proud to have her honored as Ridgway Classified Staff of the month.

    Student award recipient

    Wendy (Gwendoline) Wisar is an extraordinary person.  While many of our students are having a difficult time adjusting to Distance Learning during this pandemic, Wendy has figured out a way to stay upbeat.  Wendy has attended 100% of all of our zoom meetings, turned in all homework assignments and asks questions.  She is not afraid to ask for help and will stay behind until all her questions are answered. Wendy is curious by nature.  She asks, “What are we doing today?” in the chat feature to let us know that she is ready to learn.  Even though a lot of the work is done online, Wendy still brings a notebook and pen to class to take notes on the topic at hand.  We were having some technical difficulties with some of our apps and the person who would inform us was, yes, you guessed it, Wendy.  She would let us know if the apps were working, if she and maybe others were having trouble getting into  assignments and as new platforms were being introduced, Wendy would ask about them, poke around and help her peers if they needed guidance. Wendy is making great progress, and with her tenacity and curious mind.  I know that Wendy will not only come out of this pandemic successfully, but will bring her classmates along with her.

    Student award recipient

    Emily is a 6th grade student at Luther Burbank Elementary School.  Emily’s eagerness to learn is a delight to see.  Every morning, Emily is one of the first people to log into Zoom for class.  She is smiling, headsets on, focused, and ready to learn.  Many students struggle with answering questions on Zoom, but Emily speaks up and answers whenever she is called upon.  She is a leader when it comes to participation and focused in breakout rooms. Emily has an almost perfect record of work completion.  You can see the care and detail she puts into her school work.   She asks great questions and will even come to an extra Zoom session to get help with something that might be difficult to understand.  She is dedicated to understanding and completing her assignments. Her teachers describe her as a bright, sweet student. One that exhibits kindness at all times, but does not hesitate to let others know when they are doing something they know is not appropriate for school.  She works well with classmates and perseveres through challenges. Burbank is very proud of Emily and looks forward to hearing about all the great things we know she will accomplish.

    student award recipient

    It is Ridgway’s pleasure to honor Jose Castaneda Secalde as our student of the month.  Jose came to Ridgway feeling defeated, extremely deficient in credits and his counselor made a special plea to take a chance on Jose.  Ridgway did and now there’s no stopping Jose. Distance Learning is really working for Jose. He attends on a regular basis, he completes his work and is a joy to have in class. Jose shows up to class with a smile on his face. He is always friendly and polite. Jose is conscientious about his work and tries his best on every assignment. Jose just started at Ridgway this fall and he's been on STEP 3 the entire year so far. He represents the TEAL house, demonstrating a ton of school spirit! He even helped us coin a new name- the teal tigrexes (a combination of tiger and t-rex.) This came about when he brought a teal t-rex to our house meeting (we were formally the teal tigers.) Always showing school spirit, he scared us all on Halloween with a spooky mask. Jose is far from scary on normal days- he likes to make people laugh. We are so lucky to have Jose in our Ridgway family!  Jose we are so very proud of you!


  • October 2020

    October 2020 employees of the month

    Ashley Gerhardt - Helen Lehman Elementary

    We are recognizing Ms. Ashley Gerhardt, the student engagement activity worker at Helen Lehman Elementary School, as the Classified Employee of the Month.  Ms. Gerhardt, or rather “Ms. G,” always puts students first. She was one of the very first student engagement workers to hold virtual recesses--having started back in March when we first transitioned to remote learning. Ms. G is continually wrestling with finding new, creative ways to engage with students to ensure they are connected to the school and each other so that their emotional and social needs are met. She holds both morning and lunchtime virtual recesses, as well as virtual dance parties on Fridays and clubs in the afternoons. She is also hard at work continuing our walk & roll program despite the challenges this year has thrown our way. In all her work, Ms. G truly embodies our district’s priority to recognize our responsibility to develop and care for the whole person so that each student is mentally, emotionally, and physically healthy.  We are very fortunate and grateful to have Ms. Gerhardt on our staff and to recognize her as the classified employee of the month. Thank you for your commitment to our children and their future.

    Rosie Muldoon - Helen Lehman Elementary

    We are recognizing Mrs. Rosie Muldoon, a teacher on special assignment (TOSA) at Helen Lehman Elementary School, as Certificated Employee of the Month. Mrs. Muldoon has been an incredible resource and support through our transition to distance learning. She has worked hard to become an expert on different learning platforms like Seesaw, from both the student and teacher perspective, so that she could be a resource to our staff. She has created countless how-to videos to help staff and students log-on and even held professional development sessions for teachers across the district on the assessment platform we are piloting this year.  
    In her role as TOSA, she has also taken on supporting our many substitutes this year. She meets with each substitute via Zoom and has helped them connect to their students, get on all the applications we are using, and has even stepped in to sub herself when we were short-handed.  Her positivity and dedication to our students and staff is inspirational and we are thrilled to call her one of our own. Thank you for your commitment to our children and their future.

    Sandy Lewis - Hilliard Comstock Middle

    Sandy  Lewis wears many hats. Her job is as an Instructional  Assistant in the Special Education Department. However, she is much more than that;  she is a helper, a friend, a colleague, a sage, a teacher, a mentor, an artist, a scholar and an all around good person. Students often appreciate the one-on -one tutorials they can receive from Mrs. Lewis. The students also like having another adult they can turn to in times of crisis and in times of joy!
    Ms. Julie Grange, our special education department chair says: “ I find her to be irreplaceable. She works tirelessly to complete projects. She seeks out other professionals to get the answers she needs. She is dedicated to the work and most importantly, the children. Mostly, she is the kindest person. She likes to cut roses that grow on campus and bring them to individual teachers and support staff, just to brighten their day. She likes to decorate rooms, offices, and hallways, to make staff and students feel more celebratory and have more school pride.  She has helped to support and train many new instructional assistants. Sandy Lewis is an amazing asset to Comstock Middle School and students and staff are lucky and happy to work alongside her!

    Kathy Shanklin - Hilliard Comstock Middle

    Kathy Shanklin joined the teaching profession later in life.  Her approach to being at our school is with this sense of “calling”.  She  is a life-long learner, true story-teller and avid reader; she captivates students with her passion and knowledge of U.S. history.  She teaches most of our 8th grade classes, including Advanced history.  In this capacity she has initiated and chaperoned summer trips to Washington. D.C. Kathy teaches  Early College Prep, (ECP) a university prep course that feeds into Piner High School’s Early College Magnet program with about  70 students each year.  They then move onto the Piner cohort.  ECP has dramatically increased Upward Bound acceptance of Comstock students. Through fundraising with the students, Kathy has organized field trips to universities and museums.   One year her ECP students had 9 field trips!  She also conducts a weekly University Club. Kathy has been an early ally and advocate for Ethnic Studies attending many meetings to help organize the curriculum. Last but not least, Kathy has served as SRTA Site Rep for many years and has been the SRTA Middle Level Rep. She also serves on the Article 6 committee. She is also the rep for Comstock for the Phase 1 Redistricting Committee. Kathy’s willingness to do whatever it takes to help students succeed helps erase the  achievement gap for a very diverse and traditionally underserved population. 

    Sana Sunia - Piner High

    Piner High School would like to recognize that all of our staff have been stepping up to the challenges that the 2020-2021 school year has brought.  However, there was no hesitation--we would like to recognize Campus Supervisor Alesana Sunia as our CSEA of the Month.   In the past year, he has worked hard to build community and help students make good choices through positive relationships. His connections with students are respectful and healthy, and our students look to him as a mentor.  His work doesn’t stop at the end of the school day; he shares his expertise as one of our assistant Football coaches and cheers on others when the season ends. There is simply nothing he can’t do! When the pandemic moved Piner to distance learning this year, he simply rolled up his sleeves and asked--what can I do today?  His willingness has proven limitless.  One day he might be preparing books for distribution; the next he might be using google to translate syllabi.  Sana tirelessly ensured student and staff safety during our distribution events and picture day. Sana began as a Piner alum, and has returned to continue to share the Prospector pride and spirit in everything he does.  His energy and willingness to truly serve our students is an inspiration to all.  Thank you, Sana, for all you do for our Piner community. 

    Kelly Henderson - Piner High

    There are so many wonderful teachers at Piner, to pick one is a real challenge.  But this month we want to honor special education teacher Kelly Henderson.  Special Education has been faced with some real challenges as we transition to Distance Learning, and Kelly Henderson’s advocacy for her students, families  and her department have been, in the words of our colleagues, “Fierce!”  Our staff was excited to have a moment to recognize her efforts, and wanted us to share a few thoughts. “She is one of the hardest working people I know. Her focus on supporting her students, her team, and everyone's mental health is inspiring.  She is our rock...”  “...she is always willing to take the time to explain things, and to offer any support that's needed.” She is  “...fearless when it comes to defending the rights of the most challenged and vulnerable in our student body.”  “HER CREATIVITY IS LIMITLESS!”  In her role as Department co-chair, she is an avid advocate for anyone who needs additional support.  Her high expectations for everyone are only exceeded by her patience.  Thank you, Kelly for all you do to support our Piner community.

    Student of the Month Thanh Ma

    Truly a global citizen, Thanh moved from Vietnam to attend Helen Lehman School in Kindergarten. Her passion for learning, self-determination, and humble heart has guided her to become a talented student, dependable leader, and compassionate friend. 1st-grade teacher, Ms. Bracco remembers Thanh as “very friendly, eager to learn, and ready for any challenge!” Mrs. Madigan says, “ I have never before met a more responsible, focused, and determined student! In 2nd grade, she taught herself cursive!” Thanh is a student that thinks deeply and critically. Her work reflects enormous precision and attention to fine details. This superb quality translates into ALL her many talents. Mr. Bazie knows her as “Inquisitive. She always wants to know the ‘how and why’ of a concept or topic.” Thanh is honorable, humble, and loyal. Her actions speak to her high morale. Her contributions to our school include Safe School Ambassadors, Class President, and Student Council Leadership. Thanh enjoys drawing, playing volleyball, cooking, and learning Korean. She’d like to be a doctor or a teacher in her future. Her strong values and kind nature come from a great family that raised her. We are fortunate to have young people in this world like Thanh. Congratulations! 

    Student of the Month Truc Ma

    Truc Ma demonstrates the determination, the maturity, the ability, and the leadership qualities it takes to be a successful student.. She is a member of our school band and takes learning music very seriously. At the same time, she takes Advanced classes in English, Math and Social Studies and has maintained a 4.0 for all of middle school. Her math teacher Ms. Angela Ghigiiazza (Mrs. G) states: “Truc is the most respectful and helpful student I have EVER had.  She has worked with the math department to create instructional videos for students to learn how to zoom,  and do other online platforms.  She is online each day with a smile, her camera on, asking questions and helping her peers." Academically, Truc has the goal of going to college and becoming a physician. Her favorite subject is math. Above all, Truc is a wonderful and compassionate human being. I’ve seen Truc show care and support for other students so many times. She says that she loves Comstock because of the wonderful staff.  She reaches out to so many of us. She is a perfect example of the high performing student that passes through Comstock’s doors.

    Student of the Month Liyah Tyohannes

    Piner High School unreservedly named Liyah Tyohannes as our Student of the month. Why? As we are limited to 200 words, I will share just a few snippets from her teachers. “Liyah is one of those extraordinary students who comes along to remind teachers why they sought out this profession,” “ I see her as an agent of change, which is quite something for one so young. She is a treasure” “...from the moment I met her, it was clear she would be a leader and role model for her peers…” “Liyah is coming from a strong, dedicated and happy family where education and being active with the community is essential.” “...someone who makes a difference in her community; she is one of the leaders of our Black Student Union...the kind of person who stops to say hi to her current and past teachers in the hall, and was, at least as a freshman, one of the first to offer to help a classmate who needed a little extra help.” This year, she serves her peers and our community by serving as co-secretary on School Site Council, and serves as an officer in the BSU. She makes us all want to be better--she truly represents the Piner Spirit. Please join the Piner staff in celebrating Liyah Tyohannes! 


  • May 2020

    May staff awards
    We appreciate these incredible staff members: (top row) Susan Feige - Proctor Terrace Elementary ; Peggy Harden - Albert F. Biella Elementary; Robin Clark - Hilliard Comstock Middle School; (bottom row) Maria Lopez Soto - Hilliard Comstock Middle School; Christine Wedel - Albert F. Biella Elementary; and Edward Hamalian - Proctor Terrace Elementary. 

    Christine Wedel - Albert F. Biella Elementary

    Christine Wedel is currently a fifth-grade teacher at Biella, but she has also taught second grade. Christine is an amazing teacher who creates a safe learning environment for all of her students that is engaging, inspiring, challenging, and filled with love. Her students are eager and excited to learn with her. Christine strives to ensure that she is meeting students’ academic and social-emotional needs at all times, understanding the importance of supporting students to feel safe in taking risks, in asking tough questions and taking on challenging tasks. Her students say that she always makes them think and that it is a good thing. Students know they will do these things, some of which push them beyond what they thought they were capable of, with Mrs. Wedel right there beside them supporting them and being their biggest cheerleader. This is because Christine carefully crafts her lessons to meet all of her students’ needs. There is no doubt that Christine truly cares for her students, spending her afternoons tutoring those who need extra support and always seeking out new strategies and resources to meet their needs. This love for her students goes beyond the classroom as she is also very involved in all school activities, loving her Biella community. You can find her at our music concerts as well as cheering our students in a basketball game. Christine is kind, caring, intelligent, and has a big heart. It is an honor to work beside Christine as she motivates her students and colleagues. We feel lucky to work beside her on a daily basis. Congratulations!

    Peggy Harden - Albert F. Biella Elementary

    Peggy Harden has been the office manager at Biella’s Elementary School for over 20 years. Peggy has had to train 3 principals and has done it with grace.  She is so humble and kind to everyone she encounters. She always greets everyone with a smile and caring personality. Peggy is very knowledgeable. She is a person that other people turn to when they need an answer and if she doesn’t have it, she will find it. Karen Guillory says “she is the best co-worker that I’ve ever had, she makes coming to work easy and I truly love her and am blessed to call her my friend.” Peggy has a witty sense of humor and makes our office a very special place to be. We can’t thank her enough for everything she does for our students and staff. Words that describe Peggy are; beautiful, honest, sincere, knowledgeable, funny, patient, happy, loving, protective, and devoted. We have been blessed to have her working at Biella for so long and dread the day that she retires. She truly is amazing and we can’t thank her enough for her incredible work ethic and devotion to our school. Congratulations Peggy!

    Susan Feige - Proctor Terrace Elementary

    Susan Feige has a total of 28 years in Santa Rosa City Schools, with her first teaching assignment at Monroe Elementary. While at Monroe she taught with her husband, Don Feige, both sharing two classes of 4th-6th graders. Susan moved on to Proctor Terrace Elementary and currently teaches 5th grade with her partner teacher Tina Hiatt. Susan is an extremely dedicated teacher who, along with Tina Hiatt, produces a ‘Proctor Terrace Musical’ every Spring.  The production for Spring of 2020 was “Shrek Jr.”, which included 30+ members in grades 3rd-6th and included auditions, after-school and weekend rehearsals, set building, lighting production, sound design, costume design, choreography, and singing. Susan participated in SRCS Project LEAD to guide teachers in the transition to Common Core and was a key team member of the SRCS Cross Curricular Design Unit (CCD) team.  She is a pioneer and example at Proctor Terrace for implementing social emotional supports for students such as the classroom meetings model. Many students return to the Proctor Terrace campus to visit Mrs. Feige and remember her as a caring teacher with high expectations who challenged them to become better students and achieve academic and personal success. Susan is a product of Santa Rosa City Schools and a native of Santa Rosa.  She loves musical theater (of course!), visual art, gardening and reading.  We congratulate and honor Susan Feige with this award. 

    Edward Hamalian - Proctor Terrace Elementary

    Proctor Terrace nominates Custodian Edward Hamalian as our Classified Employee of the Month. Edward Hamalian has been a valued member of our community at Proctor Terrace Elementary for three years.  Edward consistently goes above and beyond in his efforts to make Proctor Terrace a wonderful environment in which to learn and to work.  He volunteers to cover family and PTA events on weekends and finds creative solutions for issues that arise on campus.  He always has a positive attitude, an easy-going manner, time to chat with teachers, families, and students, and a smile for everyone. Edward recently built two custom-made items for the Proctor campus at home in his spare time.  One of those items was a clothes hanging rack system, fabricated from elegant copper piping that allows our staff and volunteers to neatly organize our lost and found clothing in an efficient and beautiful way. Edward is a graduate of Montebello High School in Los Angeles, California and studied Electrical Computer Technology at Santa Rosa Junior College.  He is an athlete who enjoys trail running in the regional park foothills of Santa Rosa and is an aficionado of motorcycles and vintage cars.  We congratulate and appreciate Edward with this honor. 

    Robin Clark - Hilliard Comstock Middle School

    As a teacher of Physical Education, our Department Chair, Athletic Director and a coach of multiple sports, Robin Clark models this goal in her own life and promotes it to our Comstock students. Teaching students about the life-long physical and psychological benefits of exercise is a priority.  Robin developed the Scholar Athlete program which provides well-deserved recognition for student excellence in both academics and sports.  She has developed programs that exert a positive impact on students’ health.  In this time of growing concern about the negative effects of poor nutrition and lack of exercise on our nation’s youth, many students at Comstock now choose to eat fruit and salads at lunch. Robin’s commitment to students extends well past the traditional school day. She coaches a different sport every season.  The quality of Robin's coaching has resulted in an impressive list of championships that have far exceeded what one would expect from our small school. Although our school community has been very proud of Robin’s success as a coach and educator, and the related accomplishments of our teams, we are even more pleased with the enthusiasm that our students have shown through very high rates of participation. Much of this is directly attributable to Robin’s dedication and caring, which students intuitively recognize and to which they respond in kind. She is very deserving of this award. Congratulations Robin!  

    Maria Lopez Soto - Hilliard Comstock Middle School

    Maria Lopez Soto has been an amazing and dedicated SRCS employee for the past 16 years. She started out as an English Learner technician working with the district office in test administration. She then became one of the first Family Engagement Facilitators serving the Comstock/Piner families. As our Family Engagement Facilitator, she helped us establish close ties with our community as it seems that almost everyone is her cousin! She helped articulate to me, the school principal, the cultural needs of our community which led us to establish a strong parent support community, attendance at ELAC averaging 50 parents a month, and an incredible end of the year promotion ceremony attended by over 1,000 of our 8th grade student’s family members and friends. Further, she has been passionate in imparting information to our families on A-G requirements, reclassification for EL students, and how to support students with homework, attendance and any other school related item considered vital for our community to understand. Maria moved onto the Attendance Tech position, and fortunately stayed with us at Comstock. She has trained our new Family Engagement Facilitators (our current FEF is her sister!) to carry on this work and continues to help our families fundraise for events for their students. Maria has truly been a partner with us in building our school and we are so very grateful to her for her dedication, passion and creative ideas. We are so pleased to honor her tonight. Congratulations!

    ABE student award

    Ismary Flores - Albert F. Biella Elementary

    At 11 years old, Ismary Flores already possesses all the qualities that most people with they had. She is incredibly hard-working, kind to everyone, a lover of books, and she is someone who tries their best every single day. Ismary always comes to school with a smile on and does what it is asked of her without ever complaining. Ismary thinks before she speaks and would never intentionally hurt anyone. Ismary is a well-rounded student and a role model in my classroom. She is in a 5/6 combo this year and she is an ideal student for it.  This because she is the perfect young lady for the 5th graders to look up to. She is the perfect student for anyone to look up to. Her love of reading has made her and awesome writer and it also scored her a spot in the county spelling bee. It was one of many things that was cancelled this year and it would have been a joy to see her compete. Ismary also made the girl’s basketball team. Although we were unable to have a girl’s season this year, she still remains positive. Ismary shows up to every Zoom meeting and continues to complete all her work. Ismary knows what it takes to be successful and she always puts in the work. Ismary is such a delight to all of the Biella staff and we know that she will have an extremely bright future.  Congratulations! 

    PTE student award

    Jayden Tuhtan - Proctor Terrace Elementary

    Jayden Tuhtan is a 6th grade student at Proctor Terrace Elementary.  Something that stands out about Jayden is his enthusiasm and positive attitude for life. His teacher Mrs. Lyon writes, “from the first greeting on the ramp outside the classroom, to the last exchange after a full day of activity, the thing I see when I think of Jayden is his wonderful smile and positive attitude.  This part of Jayden’s character colors all that he touches.  He applies himself to being the best student he can be in his academic studies, as well as in his interactions with his peers and teachers. Is there a subject Jayden doesn’t enjoy in school?  I don’t know.  He approaches each with an engaging mind and a willingness to learn.  Are there peers that Jayden struggles to get along with?  Again, it’s hard to say.  He has the wisdom of one much older than his age when it comes to knowing how to speak up, how to speak out, and when to say nothing at all.  This is what makes him a natural leader who is trusted and appreciated by his friends, classmates and teachers.” Thank you, Jayden, for serving as a wonderful example of a “graduate” of Proctor Terrace, one who is ready to move on to the next level of learning in school and in life.  We appreciate and honor Jayden, his family, his current and previous teachers with this award.  Jayden, you will be missed on the Proctor Terrace campus, but your Proctor community wishes you all the best for the future.  They are certain you will have many successes going forward.

    HCMS student award

    Monyrath Neang - Hilliard Comstock Middle School

    JMonyrath Neang demonstrates the determination, the maturity, the ability, and the leadership qualities it takes to be a successful student in the 21st century. She takes the responsibilities that are delegated to her very seriously. She is a member of our Leadership class helping to create school spirit. At the same time, she takes advanced classes in English, Math and Social Studies and has maintained a 4.0 for the past 3 semesters in middle school. Her PE teacher and coach, Ms. Robin Clark state: “Mony has run marathon club, played basketball, volleyball and competed in Track and Field. She is kind, shy, friendly, respectful, determined, driven and appreciative of everything. She is quiet, but she is a great leader by her example.” Academically, Monyrath has the goal of going to college and becoming a physician. She has set her eye on attending an excellent college and is determined to work hard and excel in her studies. Above all, Monyrath is a wonderful and compassionate human being.  She shows care and support for other students so many times. She is empathetic and very, very kind. She is thoughtful and generous with her actions and her words. She is a perfect example of the high performing student that passes through Comstock’s doors.  She will be leaving Comstock after this year, but she will always be remembered as one of our finest examples of the type of student we all want to be.  


  • April 2020

    April staff awards
    We appreciate these incredible staff members, with special thoughts for one posthumous award: (top row) Marlene Nemoede, First Grade Teacher at Luther Burbank Elementary; Patty Cruz, Family Engagement Facilitator at Abraham Lincoln Elementary; Nerina Lily, Elementary School Office Manager at Luther Burbank Elementary; (bottom row) Tina Boaz, Speech and Language Pathologist, Abraham Lincoln Elementary; In Honor of Dee Kelly, who was Registrar at Ridgway High; and Caitlin Cameron, Science Teacher at Ridgway High.

    Tina Boaz - Abraham Lincoln Elementary

    Tina Boaz has been Abraham Lincoln’s Speech and Language Pathologist since 2010.  However, she is much more than that to our staff, students and families. Tina brightens a room when she walks in. Her positivity, friendly and outgoing personality is infectious. She consistently has a positive attitude and is willing to help in any way she can. If she is not working in her classroom, you will find her in a number of classrooms on campus supporting the students and teachers. Tina takes pride in not only what she does as an educator, but also in Abraham Lincoln. When you walk into her classroom, you feel that you have been transported into a very special place. She decorates her classroom with student assistance for the holidays, creating a very inviting environment and students love to talk about. You will also often see Tina in her school spirit shirt on Fridays, or dressing up as Scooby Doo to hype up the Halloween parade. Tina has dedicated an immense amount of time supporting Abraham Lincoln’s gardening on campus. She not only has gotten her hands dirty with the garden, but has written numerous grants worth thousands of dollars over the years to provide Abraham Lincoln with garden support and opportunities for students to learn and enjoy. She also has been an integral part of bringing Bird Day to Abraham Lincoln. Tina is not only a team player, but someone who goes above and beyond. Congratulations Tina! We are honored to have you as Abraham Lincoln’s Certificated Employee of the Month.

    Patricia Cruz - Abraham Lincoln Elementary

    Patty Cruz has worked at Abraham Lincoln for the past 18 years. Her first fifteen years she worked in the SDC K-6 classrooms as an Instructional Assistant, prior to becoming Abraham Lincoln’s phenomenal Family Engagement Facilitator for the past three years. Patty is invaluable to Abraham Lincoln’s staff, students and families. She is never seen on campus without her warm smile and friendly demeanor interacting with parents, students and staff. Patty is an integral part of many different moving parts of Abraham Lincoln, such as the Parent Faculty Organization, La Plaza, School Site Council, District Advisory Committee and ELAC, just to name a few. Patty goes above and beyond every day in everything she does to support the community of Abraham Lincoln. She has strong relationships with all those she interacts and does so with a positive attitude. Patty is a true team player that Abraham Lincoln can depend on knowing she will be prompt and thorough with all tasks she completes. Patty is more than just a hard working employee of Abraham Lincoln, she is family to all. Patty Cruz hands down deserves to be awarded Classified Employee of the Month. Congratulations!

    Marlene Nemoede - Luther Burbank Elementary

    Marlene Nemoede, or as her students call her, Ms. Nemo, is a first grade teacher at Luther Burbank Elementary School and has been teaching for twenty-one years. Ms. Nemo currently serves on School Site Council, Parent Club, and has mentored new teachers through the North Coast Teacher Induction Program and the Migrant Education Program. On Saturdays she can be found teaching Elevate Academy where she facilitates student enrichment activities focused on engineering and arts. Ms. Nemo has also secured multiple grants from community partners, such as the Sonoma County Library, Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and the Small Business Network to fund student field trips and support teaching technology and English as a Second Language to SRCS families. She has also coordinated a quilting program where students learn how to sew and make quilts that are entered in the Sonoma County Fair. Her background as a former school counselor and being bilingual has helped her communicate and interact more effectively with students and families that are not fluent in English. This relationship has helped students integrate more easily and comfortably into the school environment and community as a whole. Her colleagues described her as inspiring, believe that creates a warm and inviting environment for her students to learn, and that she exemplifies what a teacher should reflect for all of her students and staff. Luther Burbank Elementary School appreciates Ms. Nemo’s commitment to serving students and families and congratulates her on this recognition.

    Nerina Lily - Luther Burbank Elementary

    Nerina Lily has been the School Office Manager for Luther Burbank Elementary School since August 2018. Although she has only served in this role for a short time, she is not new to the school site. Previously she volunteered in classrooms, was an Instructional Aide for a Kinder Academy and Kindergarten combination class, and most notably, a former student. Ms. Lily is extremely dedicated and committed to her work. She has many strengths, but one of her greatest is her ability to connect with families. Not only does she know every student by name, but she also knows their immediate family and sometimes even their extended family. This skill has enabled Burbank families to truly feel welcomed when they come to the front office, cared for, and a part of the school community. When asked, staff described her as friendly, professional, a team player, thoughtful, hardworking, calm and pleasant. They also went on to say that she is consistently dedicated to each students’ needs and exemplifies the kindness and respect that should be portrayed to all. Luther Burbank Elementary is extremely proud to have Ms. Lily as a part of the Burbank Family and is thankful for all of the support she provides to students, staff, and families-always with a smile.

    Caitlin Cameron - Ridgway High School

    Caitlin Cameron is a standout teacher at Ridgway continuation high school.  Ms. Cameron transitioned from an elementary position to teaching our community’s most at risk student body seemingly seamlessly.  In the very short time Ms. Cameron has been at Ridgway, she has initiated opportunities for students, created professional development for her colleagues, solicited donations for her projects from the community, and taken on an advisory position for our teen parents. Caitlin is a biology teacher who has extended learning opportunities outside the classroom for her students. Ms. Cameron knows connection before content is imperative.  Her demeanor is friendly; she exudes confidence in her students and they feel it.  She began a garden at the back of her classroom, she took a tour of the campus, and approached teachers to ask if she and her gardeners could cultivate around classrooms and plant sunflowers.  She started the student Recycling Team to educate both students and teachers the importance of recycling on campus.  Caitlin brought the FARMS leadership program to Ridgway High School.  The program recruits, and trains high school students for college and career opportunities in agriculture and environmental studies. Caitlin is a doer.  As our staff lamented about too many plastic water bottles, Caitlin quietly wrote a grant seeking funds for water filters and filtered pitchers teachers could use in their classrooms to get students to drink the faucet water as they derisively call it.  Caitlin created a how-to packet for colleagues to write grants and turned them on to other sites to apply for special items or projects.  If Ms. Cameron conceives of a classroom or school-wide project or outside learning opportunity for her students, she will make it happen.   She is deserving of every praise and accolade that may come to her.  We are so proud of her!

    (Posthumous Award) In Honor of Dee Kelly - Ridgway High School

    The Ridgway students and staff wanted to say a few words today so Dee’s family and friends could get a sense of how valued Dee and her talents were to our community.  She was a mainstay here for 25 years; her title was registrar, though we are still discovering the many, many things Dee did that made our school run well.  For many of the fifteen years, Dee, worked through the weekend to ensure kids were in the classes they needed.  Dee rarely missed anything and an error was an anomaly.   All anyone would have to say in a staff meeting was “I wonder if we could find out…” and Dee would return to her desk and produce something really helpful and comprehensive within the hour!  Dee dressed for comfort.  Her favorite shirt of course was her grumpy tee.  She was casual in that way, but a force of organization and fastidiousness in her work—all done while quietly listening to her classic rock station.   On her lunch breaks Dee often could be found in the staff room reading one of her 31/2 inch paperbacks.  She donated her credits from Paperbacks Unlimited to Ridgway to buy novels for our students. Her labor of love was baking. Halloween was always celebrated hanging at Dee’s desk munching on her 3 kinds of Rocky Road.  The crown jewel though was the impossibly giant cheese cake Dee brought to our holiday lunch every year.  Dee was loved and respected by many and we will miss her dearly.

    April ALE student

    Joshua Flores - Abraham Lincoln Elementary

    It is with great pleasure to award Joshua Flores as Lincoln Elementary School's Student of the month. Joshua is not just a 6th grader, he is a very special person. He is a hard worker in every class subject -even the subjects that are not his favorites. He is a thoughtful person to all whom he interacts. He cares about his peers and other people around him. This can be seen in the numerous acts of caring and integrity he displays daily. He is a role model to his peers. Joshua is not only thoughtful of others, yet is also thoughtful about his work. He takes his time, works slowly and carefully, and is a deep original thinker who makes connections between what he has learned, what he is learning, and his connections to his personal experiences. Joshua has a bright future with wonderful things ahead of him. Those at Abraham Lincoln look forward to seeing what he becomes as he grows up and makes his way through school. Congratulations Joshua! We are honored to have you as Abraham Lincoln’s Student of the Month.

    LBE award

    Giovanni Arroyo - Luther Burbank Elementary

    Luther Burbank Elementary would like to honor Giovanni Arroyo as Student of the Month for Santa Rosa City Schools. Giovanni is a sixth grade student in Mrs. Crapeau’s class and an exceptionally committed student. His grades confirm that, but more importantly his work ethic and dedication confirm that as well. Giovanni rarely misses school and if he needs to because he is not feeling well he makes sure that his work is complete when he returns. A current example of his dedication to his academics is his engagement in Distant Learning. He has attended most Zoom classes, turned in all of his assignments, and has offered to help fellow students with their Slide deck presentations, getting on to Zoom, and other online learning activities. In addition to being focused on academics, his teacher described him as one of the most selfless, generous, and honest people she knows. She shared that Giovanni wanted to be a Conflict Manager for the school. Although he had the votes to serve as a Conflict Manager, he declined the position because he said he knew how much other people wanted to do it and he didn’t want to take that away from them. This happened again during Class Officer Elections. He had the votes for any office he wanted, because everyone respects him, but he did not want to take the opportunity away from other students. Luther Burbank Elementary School is proud to recognize this truly nice, intelligent, honest and kind young man. Congratulations Giovanni.

    RHS award

    Javier Ortiz Calderon - Ridgway High School

    Javier is deserving of this recognition because of the complete turn- around he made toward a path to his graduation.  At the end of quarter 1, Javier earned just 5 and half credits.  By contrast, he painstakingly earned 36.5 credits in the 3rd quarter! Javier responded to his advisor’s encouragement, and made a contract with her to check in at the end of every day to report how he did in each of his classes.  He never missed a day and indeed, Javier is now one of our STEP 3 plus students.  This means he has perfect attendance and 100% school work completion.  Javier regularly earns extra credit for additional work he works on at home.  This is after his after-school job works hours are complete. Javier’s advisor is so proud and says it is a pleasure to work with because he is kind, and so appreciative.  He thanks her frequently for all her help and concern for him.  She says, Javier just needed someone to show him they believed in him, and would not give up on him.  When Javier decided to make a plan to complete all his credit, he got to work to make it happen, and has not let up one bit.  We are so proud and pleased Javier is getting this attention; he has surely earned it!


  • March 2020

    March 2020 staff awards
    (left to right) Director Alegría De La Cruz, who presented the awards; Matt Bringedahl, Gail Bowers, (and Denise Elia-Yen -not pictured) from Maria Carrillo High; Laurel Varnbuhler (and Dana Brede -not pictured) from Rincon Valley Middle; Meta George and Julie Molinar from Hidden Valley Elementary; and Lorie Banks from Maria Carrillo High School.

    Meta George - Hidden Valley Elementary

    It is our pleasure tonight to introduce Ms. Meta George as the Hidden Valley Elementary School Teacher of the Month.  Ms. George is a fourth-grade teacher and has worked at Hidden Valley for the last four years. Ms. George exemplifies what it means to be a wonderful teacher.  She is kind, caring and strives every day to be the best teacher she can be.  She opens each day in her class by greeting every student personally, then spending time with her class going over her expectations for the day.  She teaches them to be respectful and hardworking. Ms. George creates an environment in her classroom where students feel safe and welcome.  She plans her lessons and curriculum for them to create success. She is an expert on having her students become voracious learners.  Her students are engaged, focused and have fun while learning.  Every guest that walks into her room is immediately greeted by her students with “Good morning.  We are here and ready to learn!”  Ms. George is amazingly organized and is known as an excellent communicator with students, colleagues, and parents.  She is a respected and valued member of Hidden Valley Elementary and an asset to the Santa Rosa City Schools district.  She can and does make a daily difference in the lives of her students. Once again, it is our pleasure to present Ms. George with the Santa Rosa City Schools award for Teacher of the Month for Hidden Valley Elementary School.  Congratulations!

    Julie Molinar - Hidden Valley Elementary

    It is our honor to have Mrs. Julie Molinar awarded the Santa Rosa City Schools Classified Employee of the Month for Hidden Valley Elementary School.  Mrs. Molinar has worked at Hidden Valley for four years as an Instructional Assistant in the Reading Intervention Program. As Mrs. Molinar helps run the Reading Intervention Program, this entails many different skills.  She is extremely knowledgeable in protocols and procedures with the different curriculum and the online computer programs.  She works closely with students and parents with testing and assessment for the district and State of California, and academic plans that support students and help them achieve their goals. Every day she works closely with underachieving students that are struggling readers to give them confidence and the skills necessary to be strong, confident readers. Mrs. Molinar is a respected and valued member of HVES due to her hard work, professionalism and true team spirit.  She is a member of the Hidden Valley Tier II Team.  She has amazing people skills, communication with parents, teachers and students, and cares deeply about improving the lives of her students.  During this time, she has proven herself to be a loyal, dedicated and passionate employee.  Mrs. Molinar is an asset to our school district and to Hidden Valley Elementary. Once again, it is my pleasure to present Mrs. Julie Molinar as the Santa Rosa City Schools Classified Employee of the Month for Hidden Valley Elementary School.  Congratulations!

    Laurel Varnbuhler - Rincon Valley Middle

    It is with pleasure that we honor Laurel VarnBuhler as the Rincon Valley Middle School certificated employee of the month.  Laurel has been a staple of the RVMS excellence since 1994. She is currently the science department chair where she does a fantastic job leading her team by being collaborative and willing to try new ideas. Under Laurel, long before it was mandated, the science department began to implement the Next Generation Science Standards. She knew what was coming and wanted to make sure she and her team were at the forefront of the implementation.  She faces challenges head on and our students benefit from this.  Laurel also leads the RVMS 8th grade color team events where our 8th grade students form teams and compete in competitions.  When students return to visit, they tell us they remember these events most fondly from their RVMS days. Curriculum Design is another area in which Ms. VarnBuhler excels. She loves to create 5 E style lessons to provide hands on experiences for students that give them a variety of methods to access content. Her labs are engaging and knowledge-packed. Her students have fun while learning the Next Generation Science Standards.  Ms. VarnBuhler is a veteran teacher who breathes life into every lesson she teaches and her students benefit in many ways because she cares so deeply for them.  We are proud to honor Laurel VarnBuhler as the RVMS teacher of the month.  Congratulations!

    Dana Brede - Rincon Valley Middle

    Dana Brede is a Special Education Instructional Assistant and a dream employee.  She is one on whom I can always count upon. As a Special Education Instructional Assistant at Rincon Valley Middle School, she always goes beyond expectations to ensure that our special ed. students are supported, nurtured, and have the ability to access their education. To say that Ms. Brede takes pride in our school, just doesn’t encapsulate how much she cares.  She does everything she can to be sure that the time our special education students spend at school is the best that it can be. Ms. Brede is kind, hardworking and works tirelessly to create a welcoming supportive environment in the classroom. She greets all who enter with a smile and a welcoming word.  We started the school year without a permanent teacher in the classroom, so we relied heavily on Ms. Brede to support our guest teachers.  She built the classroom culture and systems which created consistency for the students allowing them the comfort to interact with their learning.  I honestly do not know how we would have managed without her super powers, loving heart and commitment to our kids. Dana takes pride in her work, ensuring that all she does is done to the highest standard.  She will not settle for less because she insists that RVMS Special Education students need to shine like the jewels we know they are. Dana Brede is a true Falcon and we are grateful to call her one of our own.

    Gail Bowers, Matt Bringedahl, Denise Elia-Yen - Maria Carrillo High School

    It is a great honor to recognize the MCHS dynamic trio - Gail Bowers, Choir Director, Matt Bringedahl, Band Director, and Denise Elia-Yen, Drama Teacher.  One cannot be honored without honoring the other two - they truly are a force in the performing arts world. The trio has been working together as a tight team for the past three months preparing for this year’s musical, Legally Blonde.  In the eleventh hour, Mrs. Yen had to have emergency surgery.  Instead of doing what most of us would do - and postpone or cancel the production, the three figured out how to keep the momentum going.  Mrs. Bowers has taken over as the “on site” director.  Mr. Bringedahl has committed to staying during rehearsal evenings to work with the students and stage hands, and Mrs. Yen communicates daily via text and emails with the other two to ensure all is on track for opening night. This team works so well together, building upon each other’s strengths to improve the opportunities for our students. Because of this triad approach to the school’s performing arts, the programs are growing and impacting our students in ways they never knew was possible. Thank you Mrs. Bowers, Mr. Bringedahl, and Mrs. Yen, you three represent what education should be - commitment to each other, dedication to our students, and never seeing the road as narrow.

    Lorie Banks - Maria Carrillo High School

    It is a pleasure and honor to recognize Lorie Banks, the Counseling Secretary at Maria Carrillo High School.  Mrs. Banks has been an employee and asset to the Puma community since 2015.  Her contribution to our school is invaluable, and in all of her actions, she is kind, considerate and professional. Mrs. Banks has a rather large job.  Not only is she the secretary to all our counselors,  she enrolls new students, audits our attendance records monthly, ensures graduation jeopardy letters go out in a timely fashion, enters all new and sensitive information about students into Illuminate, and at times does additional duties to support our registrar and health tech.  These are just the tasks that come to mind, there are many more.  She is secretary extraordinaire! What makes Mrs. Banks so unique and wonderful at her job is her attention to detail, her great sense of humor and her can do attitude.  In every occasion she goes above and beyond to help a student, a parent, or a staff member.  Our front office would not be the same without her. At Maria Carrillo High School we promote our Graduate Profile - Powerful Producer, Universal Citizen, Masterful Communicator, Active Learner.  She exemplifies all these qualities and is an excellent role model for us all.  We couldn’t have a more perfect person in such an important position that is the first contact for SRCS families and students. Congratulations Lorie!

    HVE student award

    Tatum Figueroa - Hidden Valley Elementary

    It is a pleasure to present Tatum Figueroa as Hidden Valley School’s honoree for the Santa Rosa City Schools’ Elementary Student of the Month. The choice comes as no surprise to all her teachers. Tatum has made herself a very important part of our school. She is a productive and creative force in our Odyssey of the Mind program, helping her team to advance to the state finals for the past three years, and again in 2020. She is a talented artist with a sharp eye for detail. She continues to be a responsible and compassionate member of our Student Leadership team and always volunteers to help out at all our events. In addition to all those extracurricular activities and interests, Tatum holds herself to high standards academically, consistently completing excellent assignments, earning high marks on tests, and putting her own unique stamp of personality on her work. Her sixth grade teacher is enjoying the inspirational quotes she writes on her weekly spelling tests, carefully citing each source. She is respectful and empathetic towards everyone she meets; it’s obvious that she cares about people and the world. And even though it seems all of this would leave no time, Tatum is an avid reader, and is often seen carrying around a thick book of fiction. Tatum’s positive and self-assured attitude, along with her wide-ranging interests and motivation to learn and to do her best, give us all confidence that she will excel at whatever she sets her mind to in life. Congratulations Tatum!

    RVMS student award

    Ricardo Bolanos Lopez - Rincon Valley Middle

    Kind, caring, outgoing, helpful, dedicated and NICE are all words which describe our Rincon Valley Middle School Student of the Month honoree, Ricardo Bolanos Lopez.  Ricardo is an 8th grade student who cares deeply about his education, his school community and doing the right thing. He has been a student member on our School Site Council for the past two school years, where he often contributes his thoughtful and insightful opinions on school matters and is always willing to listen to those who may have a differing opinion. His French teacher, Ms. Knight writes, Ricardo is one of the most consistently positive students I have ever taught. He has high standards for himself, but he also elevates the performance and enthusiasm in whatever group he is placed.  His intellectual curiosity and his eager participation is genuine (not motivated by attention or points) and always beneficial to the class as a whole. He wants to know everything about French --the people, the culture, the language, the food, the customs. He also goes beyond the safe, brief answer on written assignments, taking academic risks and striving to expand his vocabulary. He is a collaborative student in the classroom while also having high expectations for himself. His work is exemplary, and he usually has the highest score in the class. Ricardo Bolanos Lopez does a great job of making each day at RVMS, the best it can be. We are proud to honor him as our student of the month!

    MCHS student award

    Harriet Ikandu - Maria Carrillo High School

    Maria Carrillo High School can’t think of a more deserving student for this award than Harriet Ikandu.  Harriet is a senior at Maria Carrillo High School and a humble leader.  When the teachers and staff think of Harriet and all the roles she fills on the campus, they beam with joy. Harriet takes action to improve the campus, the lives of her fellow students, and the community.  Harriet has been a member of our Universal Citizens for Change club since its inception.  She has been involved in the work with the Youth Crew and shared her voice in an interview with Karina Hui, which was a brave and bold action.  In the past two years, Harriet has become involved in the culinary program and has assumed the role of president of the Culinary Club.  She has participated in Skills USA and won awards for her talents.  She is an accomplished basketball player playing for the Puma varsity team since her sophomore year. Noting all these accomplishments, Harriet is still a soft spoken young woman, who does what she does out of passion and drive to make Maria Carrillo, our community, our earth a better place.  Harriet IS a Powerful Producer, Universal Citizen, Masterful Communicator and Active Learner. Congratulations, Harriet!  You are so deserving of this award!


  • February 2020

    February 2020 staff awards
    (left to right) Nicole Cancilla, College & Career Counselor, and Shobna Kumar, Registrar, from Piner High School; Armando Hernandez, Head Custodian, and Norma Bracco, First Grade Teacher, from James Monroe Elementary; Nely Ogston, First Grade Teacher, and Yadira Quezada Centeno, Restorative Specialist, (not pictured) from Helen Lehman Elementary, along with Director Jill McCormick, who presented the awards.

    Nely Ogston - First Grade Teacher - Helen Lehman Elementary

    We are recognizing Mrs. Nely Ogston, a first grade teacher at Helen Lehman Elementary School, as Certificated Employee of the Month. A successful classroom is a haven to both students and staff alike. Mrs. Ogston, through a great deal of deliberate planning, action and effort, has created a classroom environment that could be described as magical. Her room invites, calms, and inspires. Her teaching is beautifically scaffolded, differentiated, and makes learning accessible to each student. As student needs arise, she is the first to seek out new supports and goes to great lengths to alter both her classroom and her teaching to accommodate each child’s diverse needs. Mrs. Ogston is a reflective educator who, above all, is kind and caring. She builds strong, supportive relationships with her students, families, and fellow staff members and makes all children feel as if they have an ally who truly believes they can, and will, achieve. She is able to give her students an additional gift of calmness, creating a safe, supportive world within her classroom helping to both preserve the innocence of childhood while giving her students the wings to grow, explore, and learn in the safety of her classroom. Mrs. Ogston truly is an inspiration and we are thrilled to call her one of our own. Thank you for your commitment to our children and their future. We are in your debt.

    Yadira Quezada Centeno - Restorative Specialist - Helen Lehman Elementary

    We are recognizing Ms. Yadira Quezada Centeno, the restorative specialist at Helen Lehman Elementary School, as the Classified Employee of the Month. It is safe to say that no child can learn if they do not feel physically and emotionally safe at school. It is also safe to say that everyone makes mistakes and that sometimes these mistakes make others feel unsafe and sadly, sometimes even feel unloved. It is in large part to the dedicated efforts of Ms. Yadira Quezada that students at Helen Lehman Elementary School have an emotionally safe environment and that when mistakes happen, as they invariably will, students are empowered to take ownership of their actions, critically think about the effects their actions have had on others, and to then work closely with Ms. Quezada to give them the courage to both apologize and make amends. These skills will serve our students throughout their lives and we are fortunate to have such a compassionate, brave, dedicated staff member to meet challenges head on and guide our students as they navigate through them. You truly are an incredible role model for our students. Thank you Ms. Quezada for truly embodying the vision of SRCS by using your skills to empower students to think critically, embrace diversity, work together, and adapt to our changing planet, and live healthy and fulfilling lives. We are very fortunate and grateful to have Ms. Quezada on our staff and to recognize her as the classified employee of the month. It is certainly well-deserved.

    Norma Bracco - First Grade Teacher - James Monroe Elementary

    It is James Monroe Elementary School’s distinct pleasure to recognize Norma Bracco as the Certificated Employee of the Month. Ms. Bracco started her career at James Monroe in 1996 and has been an integral part of the JMES community ever since. Ms. Bracco is on the leading edge of educational initiatives and stays current in her teaching practice.  This past school year she started incorporating Icons of Depth and Complexity into her lessons to increase DOK level and elicit higher order thinking from her students. Last year Ms. Bracco was instrumental in securing a $4,500 grant from KNBR Step Up to the Plate for Education to support the basketball program that was in danger of being cut due to limited funds.  With the influx of grant money, coaches were hired, new uniforms were purchased, and Monroe hosted home games for the first time.  This would not have been possible without Ms. Bracco’s efforts and her deep care for Monroe students. Students in Ms. Bracco’s class can be seen parading through campus to show off homemade musical instruments that let them have first hand experience with sound waves.  On Saturday’s, Ms. Bracco can be found teaching Elevate Academy at Monroe where she facilitates student enrichment activities focused on engineering. As if this were not enough, her colleagues share that Ms. Bracco is fun to work with, she is always willing to try new things and quietly goes about “just being amazing”. Thank you Ms. Bracco for all you have done to inspire and educate our students.

    Armando Hernandez - Head Custodian - James Monroe Elementary

    It is James Monroe Elementary School’s honor to recognize Armando Hernandez as our Classified Employee of the Month. Mr. Hernandez has been the Head Custodian at Monroe for the past 2 years. Prior to that he worked at Hidden Valley Satellite and Main Campus where he was so well loved that teachers from Hidden Valley brought him cookies when he started at his new site. In his two years at Monroe, Mr. Hernandez has worked to build professional connections with his new staff and student body.  He has created a positive community by opening the doors every day with a smile.  At lunch you can find him running a recycling station where he patiently teaches students how to properly dispose of their waste.  He can often be seen giving high fives and has gained the respect of our older students who can be seen helping him pick up trash.  He has initiated repainting sections of faded blacktop in an effort to breathe new life into recess games, and has cleaned out years of broken furniture that has cluttered storage spaces. He has an easy manner in his interactions with both staff and students and always has time to listen to their questions. His colleagues describe him as a hard worker who is always willing to help.  He is kind and caring and very good about acknowledging everyone.  They feel he is very reliable and always has a positive attitude regardless of the task he is asked to perform. Thank you Mr. Hernandez for all that you have done to care for our school. We are honored to work alongside you. 

    Nicole Cancilla - College and Career Counselor - Piner High School

    The person who our staff decided to honor for this award is our College and Career Counselor, Nicole Cancilla.  Nicole supports our strong counseling program with her focus on helping our students prepare--not just for getting to the stage at graduation, but for what comes next in their lives.  Nicole was able to find a few moments to come here tonight to receive this honor, but a simple glance at her calendar demonstrates why so many of her colleagues named her tonight--last week, she and our counseling staff held the SRJC senior night, tomorrow she will spend her day supporting any families who want help applying for their FAFSAs.  Whether it is helping a student fill out their common app, or apply for an internship, or explore different opportunities for financial aid, Nicole is working her hardest for our students, for our staff, and for our community.  She truly embodies the Piner spirit; thank you, Nicole for all you do!

    Shobna Kumar - Registrar - Piner High School

    It is our pleasure to award tonight’s Classified Employee of the Month to Piner High School’s registrar, Shobna Kumar.  Shobna’s work is centered on supporting all students from the very first moment they arrive at Piner High, to helping them organize for their transition to post-secondary opportunities.  She helps register our students, ensuring that we have all the records we need to build the right schedule for each child.  She supports our students with their transcripts with her careful attention to detail.  Shobna also helps our staff with the technical challenges of our student information system.    While the demands of her work are demanding and exacting, she is not only helpful--she is always friendly and positive with single person she works with!  Students, staff, and our community all agree--Shobna truly embodies the Prospector pride to which we all aspire!

    February 2020 student award

    Jimena Gonzalez Herrera - Helen Lehman Elementary

    Helen Lehman School is proud to nominate Jimena Gonzalez Herrera as SRCS Student of the Month.  Jimena is a sixth grader in Ms. Blackmore’s class and has been a student here since kindergarten. There’re many positive things to say about Jimena.  Her 2nd grade teacher, Mr. Oliver, remembers “She’s a model citizen.  Jimena always brought a ‘Peaceful, Easy Feeling’ to the classroom.”  Her 3rd grade teacher, Mrs. Madigan says, “to this day, she’s the kindest, friendliest, and most hardworking student I’ve had.” Jimena’s made many contributions to our school.  She’s currently our class President, is very involved in after-school fundraising events, and has performed in our Annual Posada and School Talent Shows. Her charisma and kind demeanor attract others to her.  Her 5th grade teacher, Mrs. Utroske, says Jimena “always had a positive and optimistic attitude.”  She’s well known by all teachers on campus.  Mr. Hodson says “Jimena’s kind, thoughtful, and persistent.”  Mr. Brazie, says “You can always count on her to do the right thing.  Her continuous smile makes an impact on us all.” Jimena is a dedicated and responsible learner.  She especially enjoys writing.   Ms. Blackmore says, “I never question the effort she puts into her work!  She sets high expectations for herself and often encourages others to reach their own potential.  She is confident with herself and humble about her accomplishments.”  Jimena is a talented artist, musician, and good friend. She has strong values and morals that come from a great family that raised her.  Congratulations Jimena!

    February 2020 student award

    Yanet Benitez Peralta - James Monroe Elementary

    It is our distinct pleasure to present Yanet Benitez Peralta as the Santa Rosa City Schools Student of the Month for James Monroe Elementary School. Yanet has been a student at Monroe since Kindergarten and is now in 6th grade. When asked about her life goals she stated that she wants to be a counselor and help people in need.  She said she has been thinking about her education lately and enjoys using algebra tiles to learn math.  She loves to read and can’t put a book down until she has finished it. Her teachers share that Yanet is the type of student every teacher dreams of having.  She is conscientious and takes initiative whether it is helping a student with a math problem, offering translation assistance, or helping a teacher with classroom tasks.  She consistently gives her very best, and rightfully takes pride in her work. Yanet is a quiet leader in the classroom.  She may not be the loudest voice, but she is a respected voice and is not afraid to have a different opinion.  She is an independent thinker with a strong moral compass that she gets from her parents.  Yanet is a member of Monroe’s Student Council and Safety Patrol.  She helps to make Monroe a better place. Yanet is a great problem solver who has a unique toolbox when helping her schoolmates resolve issues.  She has a very calm demeanor and leads by example.  She is willing to take learning risks, works well in cooperative groups, and keeps a positive attitude. Congratulations Yanet!  You are truly deserving of this award and we are proud to honor you tonight.

    February 2020 student award

    Christopher Bell - Piner High School

    It is our great honor to recognize Christopher Bell as Piner High School’s Student of the Month. Christopher has made great strides during his 4 years at Piner High School. He has actively been involved in STEM as his passion is Astro Physics. He has completed Level 1, 2, and 3 STEM Certification projects, given public planetarium presentations, participated in the Pepperwood Preserve internship program and has volunteered at the Space Station Museum in Novato over the past two years. Christopher has also made great strides socially with both his teachers and fellow students. He is an amazing person and this honor is well deserved. One staff member shared that “As a teacher, there is no greater reward than seeing students blossom in front of your eyes academically, socially, and personally. Christopher is a delightful young man and working with him on his astronomy projects has been a pleasure and a source of motivation to become an even better teacher.” When asked about his future, Christopher shared a goal to attend Northern Arizona University to study in their department of Astronomy and Planetary science. Christopher is kind, thoughtful, naturally curious, and loves to learn. In short, he is not just academically successful, but also an all-around great human being. This recommendation comes with our staff’s highest recommendation. Congratulations, Christopher!


  • January 2020

    January staff awards
    (left to right) Kristine Erken, Counselor, and John Fortunati, Head Custodian, from Santa Rosa Charter School for the Arts; Christel Arthaud, Kindergarten Teacher, and Dennis Clark, Head Custodian, from Santa Rosa French-American Charter School; along with Vice President Ed Sheffield, who presented the awards.

    Kristine Erken - Counselor - Santa Rosa Charter School for the Arts

    Kristine Erken serves as Counselor at Santa Rosa Charter School for the Arts.  She is in her second year at Arts Charter and has established strong relationships with students, staff, parents and administration.  Kristine is a strong asset to our school.  Since coming to Arts Charter she has launched an after- school homework club, lunch time clubs, established systems of support for students, provided academic counseling to our middle school students and their families and makes herself available for staff and students who are simply in need of a compassionate ear.  Before school every morning, Kristine can be found in our Wellness center.  Many students and their parents visit her each morning for a positive check in to help students feel welcome at school and ready for a good day! In addition to all of this, Kristine provides social intervention services for students in need of additional support in learning social skills on a regular basis.  Kristine has worked with community based organizations to bring valuable resources to our school.  This holiday season, Kristine worked with Toys for Tots to procure gifts for students in need.  Kristine has a positive and strong presence on campus for all of our community members.  She is endlessly patient and she is wonderful with students and staff alike.  She is professional with parents and is always available to help students.  Congratulations Kristine!  We are so glad to have you as a Narwhal!

    John Fortunati - Head Custodian - Santa Rosa Charter School for the Arts

    John has been a fixture at Santa Rosa Charter School for the Arts for many years.  John works extremely hard every day and takes pride and ownership in his work.  Each day, John is approached with many requests.  He is willing to go above and beyond to help with tasks on campus.  John is an involved member of our school community and has created strong relationships with staff, students and parents. There have been times when a student is having a challenging day.  John is willing to invite these students to come and work with him for a bit to help them feel important, helping these students to feel they have something positive to contribute to their school and to take a break from what they may be upset about.  John, known to our students as “Mr. F”, has been known to participate in restorative circles with students and other staff to help our students learn from mistakes.  He is compassionate with students and is always willing to share his smile. Mr. F knows our students by name and greets them as he is moving about the campus attending to his work.  We are so fortunate to have John on our staff at Santa Rosa Charter School for the Arts!

    Christel Arthaud - Kindergarten teacher - Santa Rosa French-American Charter School

    Christel Arthaud is in her fifth year as a kindergarten teacher at SRFACS where she immerses her students with her native French language and culture as well as igniting their love of learning with her outstanding teaching skills. Another kindergarten teacher described Christel as always being calm and ready to work with the team. She wants what’s best for the students and for the school. After this year, when her visa is up, she will return home to a village in the Southern French Alps.  Christel enjoys skiing, hiking and discovering the world. Christel has taught for 19 years. One of her more challenging classes was back home where she taught first through fifth graders all in one classroom. As one colleague stated: Christel has always demonstrated professionalism, kindness, discretion and does an amazing job with the students. During her time at SRFACS, our young students have benefited from her expertise as a teaching professional and our staff has benefited from having a kind, fun and thoughtful colleague. Watching Christel in the classroom is a joyful experience. When she asks a question of the class, one believes she herself is truly curious about the answer. The students respond enthusiastically, knowing all answers are welcome and they are learning in a safe environment. A highly organized classroom, classroom routines and clear expectations allow for optimized learning time. Christel is a master of positive reinforcement. SRFACS is grateful to have had Christel Arthaud as a valued member of our team.

    Dennis Clark - Head Custodian - Santa Rosa French-American Charter School

    Dennis Clark has been at our school site for five years. As our Head Custodian Dennis keeps a careful watch on all aspects of the school site and facility. He works with all staff and is responsive to what needs to be done at any given time. His colleagues describe him as cheerful, with a ready smile and a kind word. He is a hard worker and is dedicated to keeping us all warm, safe and dry as well as making our school look as good as possible. A fourth grade teacher says Dennis always works hard for the school and responds quickly to fix any problems. He's a great behind-the-scenes guy and is always positive! A fifth grade teacher said Dennis puts a lot of care into maintaining the school to provide a clean, safe working environment for students and staff alike. Dennis says his favorite parts of the job have been seeing it come together, he feels we’ve accomplished so much and he likes the support he receives. Like many staff members, Dennis is a parent at SRFACS. We have seen his joy in hearing his daughter speaking French and performing in the school Talent Show. The staff of SRFACS whole-heartedly believe Dennis Clark deserves this recognition.

    SRFACS student award

    Caius Shuck - Santa Rosa Charter School for the Arts

    Caius Shuck is an extraordinary student in many ways! He works diligently, is caring, and has a passion for the arts. He not only works hard, but he goes above and beyond the average expectations. Caius takes his time to be thoughtful and reflective about his own learning. When other students complain about hard work, Caius rejoices. For example, when creating a map of the Silk Road, which is a tedious task, Caius took it home and spent several hours focused on drawing the details. He pushes his capacity and takes ownership!  In addition, he cares for others who otherwise would be forgotten. As we all know, being kind is one of the most important traits a community member can have. Caius contributes to our school community by sharing his genuine kindness. Instead of only seeking his friends for group work and for play time, he is flexible to work with anyone.  In addition, he looks out for those who are treated poorly. When you are in need of a friend, you can count on him! Lastly, Caius is dedicated to the arts. Caius spends much of his free time acting with the Santa Rosa Dance Theater company. He just finished a major performance in the Nutcracker, and having seen it, I have to say that he was amazing. He also eagerly participates in percussion and drama at school.  His hard work and perseverance really shows. We are proud to select Caius as Student of the Month at Santa Rosa Charter School for the Arts!

    SRFACS student award

    Charlotte Zandvliet - Santa Rosa French-American Charter School

    Charlotte Zandvliet began SRFACS in kindergarten and became a reclassified English Language Learner in 3 rd grade. She was identified for ALPS and was in the 95th percentile in math on her last SBAC. She is inclusive and is always a friendly face in the hallway or on the school yard! Her sixth grade teacher wrote that Charlotte is a serious and conscientious student who always wants to do her best. She is a native French speaker and now she’s fluent in English. Charlotte fifth grade teacher describes Charlotte as an all-around good citizen of our school community. She cares about academics and other people. She is involved in school activities and is always willing to help. Charlotte is an animal lover! She has two hamsters at home and helps to take care of the family’s dog, cat, rabbit and chickens! She is waiting to be old enough next year to start the helper program at the Rohnert Park Animal Shelter. Charlotte does lots of art and creates things with ceramics, wood, paints, and origami. In addition, she likes to sew, create decorations, and design things. She has loved to draw since she learned how to handle a pencil. In the future, she wants to do something linked to this creation process such as design, architecture, or decorating. At school, she likes math, art and spending time with her friends. As her sixth grade teacher summed up: Charlotte embodies what it is to be a student at SRFACS.


  • December 2019

    December staff awards
    (left to right) Arnoldo Hernandez, Head Custodian, and Kristen Ott, Kindergarten Teacher, from Steele Lane Elementary; Matt Passalacqua, Physical Education Teacher, and Angel Sanchez, Student Advisor, from Santa Rosa Middle School; and Patty Stage, Registrar, and Casey Elsa, English Teacher, from Santa Rosa High School, along with Clerk of the Board Stephanie Manieri, who presented the awards.

    Patty Stage - Registrar - Santa Rosa High

    Patty Stage has been an SRCS classified employee for 27 years.  During that tenure, she has been an SDC aide at Doyle Park Elementary and Lincoln Elementary and an RSP aide at SRHS.  Patty is the first face families and students see when they come to the Counseling Office.  She greets people with a smile, a “good morning, how can I help you”, and she goes the extra mile to walk each family through the process of their specific need.  She is a “jack of all trades,” a veteran with vast historical knowledge of SRHS as well as SRCS. Patty also does not believe families should be trapped in the robotic cold world of voicemail.   She personally answers the phone through the day.   Patty is an “old school” people person.  Her desire to be a resource and help others is what has kept her in the district.  This desire to advocate and help others is seen in her leadership on campus with other employees. SRHS Counseling Department has gone through a difficult two and a half years. Through it all, Patty has been stone, our rudder on a very large ship. Patty is the Counselor’s front line of defense.  We appreciate Patty’s ability to triage student, parent, and teacher’s needs.  On more than a rare occasion, Patty has seen and brought concerns to us before we recognized the potential problem.  We are proud to recognize Patty as the SRCS Classified Employee of the Month.

    Angel Sanchez - Student Advisor - Santa Rosa Middle School

    Angel Sanchez currently serves as the Santa Rosa Middle School Student Advisor.  Originally from Tucson, Arizona, Angel entered six grade at Doyle Park, then attended Santa Rosa Junior High, and later graduated from Santa Rosa High. Following his Panther years, he enlisted in the Air Force. After his time serving our country, Angel returned to Santa Rosa and started working at Santa Rosa Middle School in 1987 as an ESL instructional aide. He later served as a District CELDT test administrator at Santa Rosa High School and Santa Rosa Middle. Eventually, he became the Student Advisor and has remained in that role ever since.  Along the way, Angel coached JV volleyball, boys freshman basketball, seventh and eighth grade girls basketball, and track (shot put and discus). It is difficult to truly measure Angel’s contributions and value to Santa Rosa Middle School.  With the students, Angel is a father figure: patient, understanding, and friendly yet firm, he is deeply respected.  With the staff, Angel is a trusted, reliable colleague.  Because he is so well connected to the student body and the greater community, Angel is regularly sought out for advice on how to handle a student, a situation, or a parent relationship.  His read on middle school and middle schoolers is impeccable, and for this reason Administrators in particular lean on him for support and regularly seek his judgement and counsel.
    Early to work and late to leave, always stepping up and accepting new challenges, Angel is the definition of a team player.  Santa Rosa Middle School is honored to recognize Angel Sanchez as its Classified Employee of the Month.  Congratulations!

    Arnoldo Hernandez - Head Custodian - Steele Lane Elementary

    Arnoldo Hernandez embodies the spirit of Steele Lane Elementary School… he is safe, respectful, responsible and always kind. As the Head Custodian for many years on this site, Arnoldo’s work ethic and ability to collaborate with all employees and students is outstanding. He can be seen throughout the day cleaning the campus, keeping up with the ongoing maintenance jobs and completing any task asked of him by staff or students. Despite the fact that Mr. Hernandez has one of the most physical and dirty jobs on campus, he is always ready to serve with a smile and positive attitude no matter what the task. Although Mr. Hernandez is responsible for the grounds at Steele Lane School, he goes beyond these chores and truly serves the people who live within the walls of the school. Arnoldo can be seen every day at breakfast and lunch not only tirelessly cleaning up floors and tables, but sharing a kind word of encouragement, offering a laugh and providing a bit of sunshine where ever he goes on campus. This caring employee knows each student by name and it’s easy to see that he genuinely cares about each them. For staff, there is no better advocate and support than Arnoldo. He provides service, supplies and a listening ear when needed. Steele Lane Elementary School is fortunate to have this compassionate and dedicated employee on their team!

    Casey Elsa - English Teacher - Santa Rosa High

    Casey Elsa is a teacher in our English department and has taught a large variety of classes. She has worked tirelessly to create a successful school paper and yearbook that serve as shining examples of our Panther school spirit. She is an educator, teacher-leader, journalist, graphic designer, hiker and lover of theater. She loves to share these passions with students through her curriculums, student-led projects, and student clubs that she runs. All of the many students who have been taught by Ms. Elsa will attest that this passion is infectious and inspiring. Casey came to us after one year at Sonoma Valley High and decided to stay. For the last 22 years, she has called Santa Rosa High School her home.  Casey enjoys participating with her Panther community as is evidenced by her enthusiastic participation with the SRHS Spirit events. She has also spent her time and energy to fundraise for our student body so that they can have the necessary resources to participate in the high-quality programs that she so often leads. Casey teaches her students how to communicate with the written word in a variety of ways. She worked to empower the Yearbook students, even taking time this summer to ensure they had a designated workspace. Casey is an asset to the Santa Rosa High School community and we are grateful to be able to honor her hard work as our Certificated Employee of the Month. Congratulations! 

    Matt Passalacqua - Physical Education Teacher - Santa Rosa Middle

    Matt Passalacqua has taught for Santa Rosa City Schools since 1991 - a total of 28 years - and currently serves as the physical education department chair at Santa Rosa Middle School.  In addition, Matt has coached Track and Girls & Boys Basketball at SRMS and coached football at Santa Rosa Junior College for 15 years, and served as their weight training adjunct instructor for 20 years. The list of accomplishments goes on.  Matt has served as the 8th Grade Advisor for 15 years, spearheading celebrations like the 8th grade picnic.  And of particular note, Matt has devoted himself to our most important enrichment event of the year, Multi Cultural Week.  For over a decade, Matt has gone above and beyond to bring performers, artists, speakers, and most importantly, food, to the SRMS community.  These experiences have enriched lives, opened eyes, changed minds, and opened doors to the greater world that students wouldn’t otherwise be able to experience. A colleague describes Matt as “THE ultimate team player - he is consistently doing what is best for the department and willing to hear new ideas. Matt is always open to helping others in any way he can.  He is organized and dedicated to doing things right.”  Another co-worker said that “Matt is the kind of person who doesn't EVER forget your birthday and always gives the best holiday wishes.  He is thoughtful, generous, and kind hearted.” Matt’s students respect him and appreciate the consistency and structure that he has instilled in the Santa Rosa Middle School PE program.  Unfortunately, though, Matt will be retiring at the end of this school year.  Matt, you will be missed. Santa Rosa Middle School is honored to name Matt Passalacqua as its Certificated Employee of the Month.  Congratulations!

    Kristen Ott - Kindergarten Teacher - Steele Lane Elementary

    Kristen Ott is a long-time teacher at Steele Lane Elementary School and is a treasured educator with the youngest learners. Mrs. Ott is a steady advocate for her students every day. She is always positive and calm with whatever comes her way. Kristen is committed to the school, the staff, the Steele Lane Foundation and the students and has been a steadfast champion for Steele Lane School for years. With her classroom at the school entrance, Mrs. Ott is part of our “Welcome committee” as she is literally the greeter to all the students and families who come through the front doors of Steele Lane School every morning. Her smile and kind words each morning at the front of the school are a constant reminder to each person who steps into the school that they are welcome and loved. She is the keeper of history at Steele Lane, and is relentless in figuring out how to supply needs for the students in her class plus for students who remain "hers" as they move up through the grades. Not only is this teacher compassionate, she is impactful. Students come away from her Kindergarten classroom academically and socially prepared for the elementary career ahead of them. As a true testament to her influence, students come back to visit Mrs. Ott in Room 15 year after year and long after they've left Steele Lane. Steele Lane is truly blessed to have this outstanding educator as one of their amazing Kindergarten teachers. Mrs. Ott is an amazing gift to all!


    Dec. Elementary award

    Aldrick Martinez Cruz - Steele Lane Elementary

    It is my great honor to share with you about Aldrick Martinez Cruz. He is an outstanding student who I have had the pleasure to get to know this year. I have seen him grow immensely as a person over the first half of the year. He is always kind and courteous to everyone and works well with everyone in class. I see great things in his future. Mr. Misa our lead yard supervisor noted that, "Aldrick has always been an outstanding student. He consistently shows respect to his peers and the staff at SLES!" Aldrick's Kindergarten teacher, Mrs. Ott shared that, "He was always a very kind and considerate student. I always remember him being eager to learn and persevere through any task. He was a role model for others." Mrs. Sapp said, "Kendrick is a really hard worker who always does his best. He is always so polite, kind, respectful, and regularly goes out of his way to be nice to others." Mrs. Gillespie glowed about him, "He was curious, interested in learning, and deeply kind. He took the initiative, even as a first grader, to take care of things that  needed to be done: classwork, helping others, and investigating the world. Through the years, Aldrick has always maintained a cheerful and kind way about him, always taking care to ask how I'm doing and to go out of his way to have meaningful conversations with me. Aidrick is one of those special people who is a spark of light. He's a world shifter and he truly does his part every day to make the world a better place." Steele Lane's staff see a bright future for Aldrick. We believe that he will be very successful in whatever path he chooses to put his mind to. We wish him the very best on his journey.

    December Middle School Award

    Sarah Hane - Santa Rosa Middle School

    Sarah Hane is an exceptional young woman.   The baseline accolades that you might expect from a student of the month are all there: Sarah is a 4.0 student, she was elected the 7th grade vice president, and is now serving as the 8th grade president.  But these accomplishments, while incredibly significant, are not what makes Sarah so exceptional. Sarah is kind and compassionate, loaded with Cougar school spirit, she genuinely cares about our school, staff, and students.  Sarah makes all classrooms a better place for her peers, and challenges her teachers in in ways that make them even better. Sarah’s Leadership teacher reports that “Sarah went from barely speaking out loud last year in to now practically running my class.  Sarah holds herself to such high standards and always expects the same of her committee members in class.  Her attention to detail and understanding of how to deal with a variety of situations shows a discernment far beyond her years.”  Sarah often leads the charge in planning activities such as dances, The Student Store, Cougar Card turn-in days, lunch time rallies, student /staff appreciation and School Beautification projects.
    What’s most impressive about Sarah is that all of this incredible work barely compares to her Service Learning and hours of community service.  If you run a non-profit in Santa Rosa you probably know Sarah Hane because she is most likely working your event!  She is required to have 12 hours of Community Service a semester for her Leadership grade - in typical Sarah fashion, however, she is striving for over 100 hours. Santa Rosa Middle School is honored and proud to name Sarah Hane as its Student of the Month.  Congratulations!

    December High School Award

    Sierra Rose Letvinchuck - Santa Rosa High School

    Sierra Rose Letvinchuck is the 2019-2020 Student of the Year for Santa Rosa High School. Sierra exemplifies our Panther Principles in every way both in and out of school. Sierra strives for academic excellence and holds a 3.4 GPA.  Sierra truly understands the importance of being a well-rounded individual.  She has been a member of the Santa Rosa High School FFA, floral program, market hogs, and is our current FFA Vice President. This year she is serving as 4H camp director and has volunteered for Ag Days with the Sonoma County Farm Bureau for the last several years.  Sierra is also a member of the SRHS softball team and works part-time at a local pizzeria. Sierra has had a genuine interest in Agriculture since she was a freshman in high school, she has gotten involved in the floral program as one of the advanced designers and is a lead project manager for many events for the Santa Rosa High School Floral Program.  She always makes sure that she does everything possible to make her projects a success. When discussing character and aims, Sierra values education, hard work, and family.  In class, she is always willing to help others and offers her vast knowledge and interest to better the learning experience of others.  Students often turn to her for help and friendship.  In describing Sierra, she is goal-oriented, organized and determined.  She accomplishes everything that she puts her mind to and does not allow obstacles to stand in her way. Congratulations Sierra!

  • November 2019

    Nov 2019 staff awards

    (left to right) Eva Calderon, Elementary School Office Manager, and Michelle Meislahn, Kinder Academy Teacher, from Brook Hill Elementary; Mike D’Angelo, Special Education Teacher, and Tina Youngblood, Administrative Assistant, from Herbert Slater Middle School; Rebecca Sullivan, Attendance Tech II, and Monica Ashcraft, English Teacher, from Montgomery High School, along with Director De La Cruz on the far left and President Klose on the right, who presented the awards.

    Eva Calderon, Elementary School Office Manager, Brook Hill Elementary

    Eva is a diligent office manager who goes above and beyond to help the Brook Hill community.  She completes all her duties in a timely manner, with professionalism and with a smile.  She has a positive attitude and ensures that all families feel welcomed at Brook Hill at all times. Eva started her career in education over 20 years ago as a noon duty supervisor and over 10 years ago became the Office Manager.  She is involved within and outside the Brook Hill community. She is a staple at family evening events to greet the families and get updates on how they are doing. She supports instruction in our community by being the instructional assistant for adult ESLs classes offered by Sonoma County Library. When students were asked why Eva should be recognized as Brook Hill’s Classified Employee of the month they had plenty to say.  “She is like a mother to me.  She is so nice and takes good care of kids when they go to the office.  She has helped my mom.  She has been at Brook Hill a long time.  She deserves it because she helps run the school.”  Eva is never too busy to help current and former families.  In fact, families no longer in our district often come back just to get advice from Eva and she always has a listening ear.  Eva always takes the time to support families and provides excellent customer service.  She is a dedicated worker and has more than earned to be Brook Hill’s Classified Employee of the Month. The Brook Hill staff and community congratulate Eva for a job well done!

    Michelle Meislahn, Kinder Academy Teacher, Brook Hill Elementary

    Michelle Meislahn’s contributions to education started over 23 years ago as a student at Brook Hill Elementary School. She has a strong connection to Brook Hill in that her mother was the office manager and her own children attended Brook Hill. She has taught Kinder Academy and Kinder classes during her tenure at Brook Hill. Michelle has worked to further develop the teaching practices for staff by providing support to her grade-level team, mentoring beginning teachers as a BTSA provider, and implementing new programs such as Walk to Read, in which students’ instructional reading needs are targeted. She has a passion for keeping her instructional skills updated by attending professional development training offered both on-site and by Santa Rosa City Schools. Michelle exhibits strong work ethics and is involved in all aspects of the school community. She has contributed countless hours supporting family events on campus and organizing extra-curricular activities for students such as Girl Scouts Troops. The best reflection of Michelle’s skills lays in her students’ academic outcomes and preparedness for future grade levels. She has high academic expectations and is consistently able to move all her students academically in both English Language Arts and Math. Michelle is passionate about teaching and improving the quality of instruction at Brook Hill School. As a teacher, she is known for her ability to create a supportive, loving classroom community while still providing rigorous instruction. Michelle is an avid supporter of student learning beyond the classroom. Congratulations on a job well done!

    Mike D’Angelo, Special Education Teacher, Herbert Slater Middle School

    Herbert Slater has chosen Mike D’Angelo as our Teacher of the Month. His principal can always count on Mike to be available and professional in any situation. Mike is a young educator that has the brightest of futures. Here are some comments from his peers: Mike treats all students with respect and compassion. Co-teaching with him this year has been an enjoyable chance to grow and learn about some of the challenges our students deal with.
    Mike is always willing to help, with just about anything. Mike is very professional, yet very caring at the same time, which is not always easy to do. Mike always sees the best in people, adults as well as students. Mike is thoughtful and gives great insight when helping to solve problems. Incredibly smart, yet puts his heart first in every single thing he does. His ability to connect with students, particularly those who sometimes struggle with being connected, is nothing short of inspirational. A man of both humor and integrity, playfulness and professionalism. He continues to serve the Slater community in new ways constantly and consistently, excelling in every role he takes on. Mike has a calm, easy nature about him that helps his students feel comfortable and ready to learn. He advocates for students and knows how to talk to them in a way that creates a positive educational environment. Mike is a true asset to our team. Congratulations!

    Tina Youngblood, Administrative Assistant, Herbert Slater Middle School

    Herbert Slater Middle School is honored to select Tina Youngblood as our Classified Employee of the Year. Tina IS Slater! Her more than 25 years of dedication and commitment to our school is incredible. Everyone relies on Tina for so much during our school day and she handles it with grace and professionalism. Here are some comments from our Slater staff: Ms. Youngblood is an invaluable resource to our school. She's the first person I go to with questions about anything and everything, and she's always happy to help. Tina is the lifeblood of our school. Tina stays calm in all situations. She is able to help everyone with everything, all at once, and without error. Tina is able to make everyone feel good about themselves, no matter what is going on at school or at home. Most of all, she has a wonderful smile, a great laugh, and the most generous heart at Slater. Tina is the glue that holds Slater together. Tina is, with minimal exaggeration, the beating heart of Slater. There is literally not a single person on this staff that does not recognize how lucky we are to have her here. Tina Youngblood is the world's BEST administrative secretary. She takes care of business like no other and is kind and gracious to boot! Every principal and staff member who has ever had the honor to work with Tina has had gold right in front of them. Congratulations Tina!

    Rebecca Sullivan, Attendance Tech II, Montgomery High School

    We are pleased to introduce Rebecca Sullivan as the Montgomery High School Classified Employee of the Month. Ms. Sullivan’s integrity and dependability have earned her this recognition as an integral member of our Viking team. Since joining our Viking family. Her peers have stated, she is the glue that keeps the attendance office running smoothly. Ms. Sullivan is loyal, dependable employee that always goes beyond her duties without being asked. All of our student love her, which means they feel supported at Montgomery High School. As our Attendance Tech II, Ms. Sullivan is one of the first team members our families meet when they come to Montgomery. Her peaceful demeanor, and vivacious smile greet students and parents alike. She is organized, responsible and highly respected by her colleagues. Lastly, is always available, helpful, and calm. We are fortunate to have Ms. Sullivan as part of our Viking team and appreciate her hard work, commitment and dedication.

    Monica Ashcraft, English Teacher, Montgomery High School

    Ms. Ashcraft brings a strong vision with real leadership into her profession. In the past few years, Ms. Ashcraft has taken on the roles of WASC Coordinator, MTSS Coordinator and AVID Coordinator, noticing the importance of supporting students at all levels. She was on the committee that helped established Montgomery’s Instructional Framework three years ago and she continues to work to support students in her new role as Montgomery’s MTSS Coordinator. But she does not stop there. She strives to engage and support all her students in their learning. Ms. Ashcraft has worked within her English Department to help prepare students to build upon strong literacy skills, so they can provide background, defend ideas, explained cause and effect. This year Montgomery is on its second year with targeted intervention during our Guided Study Period. The purpose of the targeted intervention is to provide equal access and equitable learning opportunities for all students. Last year’s focus was on 9th-grade students in Math 1P and English 1P that need extra support within the school day. Ms. Ashcraft was able to expand it to EL students, Math 2P, and English 2P to help support struggling 9th and 10th graders for the 2019-2020 school year. Ms. Ashcraft has earned great respect from her peers for her ideas, for her leadership, for her wiliness to support students and staff, on improving instructional practices for all students.


    Elem student award nov 2019

    Bryan Farias - Brook Hill Elementary

    Brook Hill staff has voted Bryan Farias as this year’s student of the Month! Bryan represents all the best qualities of a Brook Hill Bobcat. Bryan is a very hard-working student and is always willing to participate in class. He does a great job of staying on task and completing his classwork and homework in a timely manner. Bryan works well with others in the class and is always willing to assist those around him if they need it. Bryan is a remarkable learner because he is self-motivated. He works hard and takes his schoolwork seriously. He has a positive attitude and is a pleasure to have in class. Other teachers on campus describe him as “hardworking and accountable.”  For all these reasons and more, Bryan is more than worthy of being recognized as Brook Hill’s student of the month. Congratulations Bryan!

    Middle school student award Nov 2019

    Addison Klosevitz - Herbert Slater Middle School

    Herbert Slater Middle School is proud to announce that Addison Klosevitz is our Student of the Year. Her principal can always count on Addison to be a great role model at Slater. She is a member of our school Site Council and she brings a great student perspective to our meetings. Here are some comments from her teachers: Addie is kind and always respectful. She comes to class with a smile on her face and she is always willing to help.   
    Addison is a bright and self-motivated student. She is respectful, friendly, and treats teachers and peers well. Addison Klosevitz is a spirited, and extremely hard working young lady who is our ASB Vice President, a Student Store Manager, and officer for the Renaissance Club, and a swimmer on a swim team, just to name a few of the roles she fulfills and does with A+ effort! She is trustworthy, creative, and resourceful. Addison's maturity far surpasses that of an average eighth grade student. Her attitude is positive, her questions are insightful, and her understanding of concepts is deep. She makes me strive to be the best teacher I can be because I know her standards are high and her capabilities are endless.  It is such a joy to teach to someone who is so willing and able to receive what I have to give. She's great. She is one of the managers of the student store. She has great ideas and does an amazing job. Congratulations Addison!

    High School student award Nov 2019

    Rima Makaryan - Montgomery High School

    It is a great pleasure to introduce Rima Makaryan as Montgomery's student of the month. As an International Baccalaureate Program Diploma Candidate, Rima has proven herself to be a very bright and capable student. What her teachers noticed about Rima is her ability to engage in a variety of activities while maintaining a clear focus on her goals. Simply this student cares. She cares deeply for all of us. Rima is an Actavis which can manifest itself in many different ways, including art. For Rima, making art as a form of activism is a passion. The 'DREAMER' mural, The full mural, which stands at 32 feet long and 12 high, depicts a woman facing west, surrounded by monarch butterflies. It's made up of many components. "The face is broken down into different skin colors, and symbolizes how immigrants don't come in a single color, there's a variety of shades," Makaryan explained. Rima is both eloquent and thoughtful. She manufactures her opportunities and is a student leader when it comes to empathy, community involvement, and supporting school events. She is amazing Rima's accomplishments as a scholar and leader are apparent. But most importantly, her teachers would tell you that Rima is kind, optimistic, generous, respectful and respected. She demonstrates a willingness to give back to our school and the community in general. We are proud to have Rima Makaryan part of the Viking Family.

  • October 2019

    Oct. 2019 staff awards
    (Left to right) Emmanuel “Manny” Morales, Restorative Specialist, CCLA/Cook Middle; Erika Raffo, English Teacher, Elsie Allen High School; Jennifer Mirasty-Oropeza, Business Office and Health Tech, Cook Middle; Jessica McNiff, Science Teacher and Athletic Director, Cook Middle; Araceli Sandoval, Kindergarten Teacher, Cesar Chavez Language Academy; Mayra Sosa, Family Engagement Facilitator, Elsie Allen High School, along with Vice President Laurie Fong, who presented the awards.

    Emmanuel “Manny” Morales, Restorative Specialist, CCLA/Cook Middle

    It is a pleasure to honor Manny Morales for the Classified Employee of the Month for Cesar Chavez Language Academy. Working for SRCS for several years now, he started with CCLA in the 18/19 school year. He initiated a Boys Circle Club after school, and most importantly became a male role model that all of our students have developed a positive, lasting relationship with. Manny teaches students that all mistakes can turn into a learning experience to make each individual a better person. Manny is the Check In/Check Out person for several students at our school, and is the first person they see in the morning, and the last one they say goodbye to at the end of the day.  He reviews behavior expectations with students, and sees what they need to have a successful day.  At the end of the day, he checks to see if they met their goal, and encourages them for tomorrow. A teacher at CCLA said:  Manny has been such a great addition to our CCLA team. The students respond positively to his circles. His patience and kind words make the circles in the classroom a safe environment for the students to share and express their feelings. Manny is a real life hero. Last year, he actually shattered a car window in the school parking lot in order to rescue a toddler accidentally locked in the car on a hot day. It is an honor to recognize Manny Morales as CCLA Classified Employee of the Month!

    Erika Raffo, English Teacher, Elsie Allen High School

    Erika Raffo is Elsie Allen’s Certificated Employee of the month.  Erika is not only one of our English teachers but she has also been an excellent resource for her peers. She has been the English department chair for a number of years and her organization, collaboration and guidance for her department is truly professional. She is an active member of Elsie Allen’s Intervention team: the team work to uncover the underlying reasons that a student might be experiencing academic or behavioral difficulties and to assemble practical, classroom-friendly interventions to address those student problems. Ericka has also taken the leadership roles for the 9th grade and English Professional Learning Community. The PLC meets regularly, shares expertise, and works collaboratively to improve teaching skills and the academic performance of students. Erika has also been the lead in our Sonoma State University-Elsie Allen High School Compact For Success. That work consist of connections with students, teachers, counselors and Admin as well as connecting with Sonoma State University. And just as important is Erika’s presence in the classroom. She has high expectations for her students and she always finds way to connect the curriculum to their life’s experiences. Erika connects with her students and that gives her a better understanding on what each students brings to her classroom. She is dedicated to the success of our students and that is evident every time you go into her classroom. Elsie Allen is honored to select Erika Raffo as our Certificated Employee of the Month.

    Jennifer Mirasty-Oropeza, Business Office and Health Tech, Cook Middle

    Lawrence Cook Middle School is honored to nominate Jennifer Mirasty-Oropeza as the SRCS Classified employee for the month of October. Jennifer has only worked at Cook since last year, but she has made a huge difference.  As soon as she was settled into her new position as a business office and health tech, she began to create new projects that help out our school.  Last school year she created a campaign to sell more yearbooks and recruited several of our students who often get in trouble to help her.  Not only did she increase the number of yearbooks sold, Jennifer was able to make sure all of our students had positive interactions with adults during the school day.  This year, Jennifer didn't waste any time getting started on her next project. Along with our Family Engagement Coordinator, Jennifer planned a series of fundraisers to earn money for our 8th grade Promotion Ceremony. We can go on and on about the wonderful things that Jennifer does for our community, but the thing we like best about her is how she makes Cook feel like a place you want to be.  She is always available to teachers, staff, and students; if you have a problem, Jennifer immediately goes into solution-mode and helps you create a plan of action; and seeing her smile when you stop by the office makes your day just a little bit better. For all of these reasons and a lot more, Lawrence Cook Middle School presents Jennifer Mirasty-Oropeza as the SRCS Classified employee for the month of October.

    Jessica McNiff, Science Teacher and Athletic Director, Cook Middle

    Lawrence Cook Middle School’s certificated employee of the month is an esteemed and valued leader of our school community.  Walk by her classroom and odds are you will run into her and her vibrant smile.  It is this smile that conveys her calm, inviting and friendly demeanor towards parents, her colleagues and most importantly students. Besides being a passionate teacher she has stepped up to the positions of Science Department Chair and Site Athletic Director. Her encouragement, support and guidance facilitate the experience for many students who might normally not be so inclined to participate in sports.  She also coaches the Girls Volleyball team AND the Track and Field squads. She is an Advisor to the school’s Pride Club, advocating and creating a safe space for all students.  She is co-facilitator of the L.C.M.S. School Climate Council, a group of students who discuss critical topics and exchange ideas providing a valuable voice to be heard by teachers, peers and administration. Most recently she participated in a two day training with students in the Alcohol, Tobacco and Other Drugs model.  She will be working closely with students as they learn to become up-standers rather than bystanders in this important endeavor to keep our school a safe place. She coaches Cook students at the North Bay Science Challenge and is the Site Coordinator for Expanding Your Horizons. Additionally, Ms. McNiff is a mentor for future teachers from Sonoma State University and North Coast School of Education. She also manages the schools website and Twitter accounts, and assists her colleagues with technology needs. It is with great joy and pride that Lawrence Cook Middle School honors Ms. Jessica McNiff as our certificated employee of the month.

    Araceli Sandoval, Kindergarten Teacher, Cesar Chavez Language Academy

    Araceli has been a teacher at CCLA since its inception 7 years ago. She has taught both Kindergarten and First grade. Her true passion is working with the students as they enter our school system. Araceli knows first-hand what it is like to achieve. She moved to Healdsburg from Mexico when she was 13 years old, speaking no English. She continued to learn English in High School, and attended Santa Rosa Junior College. She got married and had a baby while still studying at SRJC, then transferred to Sonoma State University for her BA Degree. Later, her teaching credential at SSU while having a second child. Araceli has always had a drive to succeed and is an example to students and parents that they can, too. Here are some of the things Araceli’s peers have to say about her:  She is very dedicated to her students. She implements new strategies. She is always encouraging and supportive of her peers. Araceli such a dedicated teacher that is always willing to help parents, staff and students. She is very generous with her time and always does it willingly. Araceli has gone above and beyond to help any teacher, especially new teachers, and always has her door open to help. She has built great relationships with our families and supports our community. She has taken on being part of the Merger group to help our school succeed. It is an honor to nominate Araceli Sandoval as CCLA Employee of the Month!

    Mayra Sosa, Family Engagement Facilitator, Elsie Allen High School

    Mayra Sosa just completed her first year at Elsie Allen High School and she has already made a HUGE impact on our campus culture. Her duties that come from being a Family Engagement Facilitator range from translations to ELPAC testing. But it doesn’t stop there. Mayra is always willing to go above and beyond her duties. She has made herself known on campus as a trusted staff that students and parents can rely on for support. She supports parents in a way that makes them feel safe and respected when they come in for help. She collaborates well with her fellow co workers and has helped create programs on campus that supports student growth. Mayra’s work at Elsie Allen High School is endless. She has assisted with our Food Pantry where students help distribute food to our families. She has created daily lunch clubs on campus to get our student connected. Mayra has also connected the community to our school with her work on our FaceBook page. She is now a part of our Elsie Allen Foundation. She also supports our students by taking part in their Circles when needed. She assists our parents with support in enrolling in school, lunch applications and also training them in the Parent Portal. Mayra is a well respected and devoted staff member that has truly embraced all that is Elsie Allen High School and we are extremely grateful to have her part of our Lobo Family.


    Elem award winner

    Darwin Ramirez - Cesar Chavez Language Academy

    Darwin has been a hardworking, dedicated member of our CCLA community since it opened in 2013 and he has been a student at CCLA since Kindergarten. Darwin is consistently present at school, faithfully obeys school rules, participates in classroom discussions, frequently attends school functions, and is eager to learn. School has not always been easy for him. What makes him successful is his incredible drive, intrinsic motivation and the amazing effort he puts into his work. Though Spanish is his first language, Darwin became Fluent English Proficient after many years of hard work and is now fully bilingual in English and Spanish. Darwin is a kind and thoughtful boy, and demonstrates exceptional classroom citizenship. He is persistent and works hard to achieve his academic goals. He embodies the worth ethic and determination we hope to see in all children at CCLA. Darwin is the oldest of three boys, and is a wonderful role model to his younger brothers. He is very committed to his school and, in fact, with the school moving, he is taking the city bus from W. Steele Lane all the way to Cook in order to be a part of our school. It is a tremendous honor to nominate Darwin for student of the month!

    Middle school award winner

    Erick Galvan- Cook Middle School

    As a student, Erick is always very attentive, polite, curious and willing to help out his neighbors with any concept they may be confused with. Erick asks very thought-provoking questions and is always striving to gain a deeper understanding of difficult science concepts. As a 7th grader, Erick and his cohort of friends were very interested in being a part of Cook's North Bay Science Challenge team, which is rare for 7th graders! When he joined, it was clear that he was quite a bright and thoughtful leader. He stepped up to fill in for the more difficult events of the Science Challenge, and helped the team pull off a 3rd place finish in the division. Erick is a very respectful young man. He is always the first student to have his supplies out ready to go. Eric knows how to be respectful towards other students and teachers alike. When someone is being disrespectful he is not afraid to be the one to call them out. Academically, Eric tries his best on every assignment.  He is also a very talented writer who shows his imagination and creativity through his writing, as well as his quiet sense of humor which he allows to come out when he writes. He enjoys the “story” of both History and English, putting himself in the characters shoes, and appreciating at the many perspectives and experiences of historical figures. Erick is a great student, but he doesn’t just come up with answers, he asks great questions, and shows his curiosity and interest in the wider world, past and present. It is with great pride that Lawrence Cook Middle School honors Erick Galvan as student of the month.

    High school award winner

    Alexis Pacheco Espino - Elsie Allen High School

    Elsie Allen High School nominates Alex Pacheco Espino as its Student of the month.  While Alex might not qualify in terms of our highest academic achievement, he certainly makes up for this as a model student, persistently setting the example for kindness, compassion, respect and helpfulness. Alex is the type of student who will consistently go out of his way to help others.  Once, as a Sophomore there was a fight in the quad area of the campus.  While many students were standing around cheering or taking videos on their phone, Alex went right in and separated the students without concern for his own welfare.  When Mr. Lieberman talked to him later, as he was nursing a bump he had gotten on his forehead, he responded, “Mr. Lieberman, someone had to stop it.”  Alex has been involved with Link Crew for the last 3 years.  He will always go out of his way to come up, say hello and greet you, or open a door for whomever is with him. Alex is also the accomplished musician. He has played the Tuba and the Saxaphone for 7 years. After high school Alex plans on going to SRJC to study to be a Paramedic.  He’s always looking to help people.  He is the consummate gentleman and a true example of a model citizen that we all aspire to be. With that said, it is without hesitation that we name Alex Pacheco Espino as our Elsie Allen High School Student of the Month.