Sonoma County Office of Education

SCOE Employee Center

Celebrating SCOE Staff

08/14/2017 - Colorful letters spell Welcome BackSCOE held its 2017-18 Back-to-School event on Thursday, August 10. The event featured an inspiring talk by Salvador Strawbridge, a Community Outreach Specialist with the Santa Rosa Violence Prevention Partnership. He discussed his personal history with gangs and related how important it is for a child to feel loved and a sense of belonging if he or she is to do well. He spoke about the power educators have to change students' lives by providing students that sense of being cared for.

And, as is our tradition, we began the school year by recognizing exemplary employees and colleagues. That included Golden Bell and District Service award winners as well as those who have reached landmark years of services. Here is the list of employees recognized this year. Congratulations and thank you for your hard work!

Golden Bell Awards


Dan Porter, Special Education
Dan Porter, winner of  Golden Bell From Mr. Porter's Nomination:

Mr. Dan Porter has been an instructional assistant with SCOE for 37 years, with over 15 years in this middle school EBO classroom at Lawrence Jones Middle School. A quiet, constant, reassuring presence, Mr. Porter makes children feel safe and at home in our program. While any middle school is overwhelming and confusing for children, our students have additional struggles that cause them to feel even more isolated and discouraged. Mr Porter is the calm in the center of the storm. He responds to challenges with quiet, logical interventions that draw on his decades of experience. When team members request his advice, his suggestions are thoughtful and invariably spot-on. His consistent, positive support and confidence in our students gives them the connection they need to build their own confidence and succeed in school.


Nance Burton, Special Education
Nance Burton

From Ms. Burton's nomination:
Ms. Burton is an excellent teacher who works tirelessly to serve our young adult students. Ms. Burton truly enjoys the students she serves. She is always able to find and advocate for the strengths, endearing qualities and interests of each student. Ms. Burton is extremely creative in finding ways in which to teach each student, adapting tasks, instruction and settings to meet those needs. When Ms. Burton worked with students at the SCOE job site, she and her students were well known and well liked throughout the building. Ms. Burton is known by just about everyone in the SCOE building as an advocate for students, as well as, someone who can be trusted to complete job tasks accurately and in a timely manner.


Debbie Blanton, Special Education

Debbie Blanton

From Ms. Blanton's nomination:
Debbie's expertise and experience in early childhood programming has supported SCOE in providing exceptional programs to students from districts who cannot provide these services. She builds supportive relationships with the families she serves in the early childhood classes and the specialty health services classes. These relationships support families during a time when families are navigating unexpected challenges in their lives. The positive and productive relationships she has established often set the tone for the families and their relationship to SCOE overall.

District Service Award

Bonnie Niewiarowska, SELPA
Bonnie Niewiarowska

From Ms. Niewiarowska's nomination:
I have worked with Bonnie Niewiarowska for about a million years. Every time I have needed help with technology and communication systems, she has been there to answer my questions with kindness, humor, and amazing expertise. Bonnie has always accepted my phone calls and answered my most elementary questions leaving me feeling like I was smart anyway.

Service Pins

30 years of service

Lisa Feldman
Maria Hartnett-Laube
Lisa Feldman and Maria Hartnett-Laube

25 years

Laura Connors
Christy Guidry
Patricia McKenzie

20 years of service

Jason Gassaway
Rick Phelan
Deborah Malone-Larson
Rhonda Farrell
Tina Hoyal
Kelly Jensen
Frances McAleer
Lourdes Medina
Elizabeth Morrison
Deborah Rasmussen
Karla Santellan

15 years of service

Carol Mahan
Maria Verdejo
Kubrom Yihedgo
Jacqueline Atkinson
Donna Bassett
Olivia Guzman
Judith Waller

10 years of service

Miwa Smith
Anna Fenderson
Rebecca Ivanovich Gallagher
Sharon Battaglia
Joel Rennison
Joshua Deis
Stacie Post-Sheffer
Patricia Rendon
Nora John
Kathryn Parnay
Susan Long
Deborah Reed-Fife
Pamela Uchytil-Velasquez

5 years of service

Debra Sanders
Mary Downey
Sean Fleming
Azucena Marron
Karen McGahey
Belinda Soto
Robert Herbstman
Karen Ricketts
Stephanie Delich
Karen Komorowski
Tana Lambert
Ryan Pepin
Rebekah Pope
Erica Anderson