Celebrating Classified School Employees
Five Sonoma County finalists for the statewide Classified School Employee of the Year (CSEY) program were announced April 17 at a celebration held at the Sonoma County Office of Education. These dedicated professionals were among 18 total classified school employees nominated by their school districts for the outstanding work they do in creating and maintaining positive school environments for the students of Sonoma County. Classified school employees, from school bus drivers to cafeteria workers to instructional aides, are the often-unsung heroes who play key roles in creating a school environment that contributes to the whole child by promoting student achievement, safety, and health.
Sonoma County’s finalists were selected by a judging panel and will advance to the state awards program. State-level award winners are expected to be announced at the end of April.
Meet the Finalists
Tony Lopez | Sonoma Mountain Charter School, Old Adobe Union School District | Maintenance & Operations
“What makes Tony so incredibly special is not what he does every day that is listed in his job description, but it's what he does as the "champion" of our school. Tony connects with every child and every adult, every day. He buzzes joyfully around our campus, and he greets everyone with a friendly, "Hola! ." Tony is always there, the minute a student's behavior is escalating, with a calm reassurance and redirection. Tony is a buddy to many students, as he offers a safe and nonjudgmental space for students to be when they need to self-regulate and take a break. ” —Michele Gochberg, Principal
Bibiana Drury | Forestville Union School District | English Language Development Coordinator
“As our English Development Coordinator Bibiana has efficiently and effectively closed the achievement gap between our E.L. students and the whole student population. In just the past year the CAASPP scores of our E.L. students in English Language Arts closed from a 27 point gap to a 9 point gap. In Mathematics the gap closed from 20 points to 13 points...Working with Bibiana every day inspires commitment to our goal of building connections and relationships. Her trustworthy and cooperative nature builds and encourages interactions with all stakeholders” —Phyllis Parisi, Superintendent
Colleen Heaney | La Tercera Elementary, Old Adobe Union School District | Kitchen Manager
“Colleen is one of the most consistently upbeat employees in the district. She comes to work each day with a smile on her face and that smile stays in place all day long, no matter what may occur during the course of the workday. She communicates with all the school staff in a cheerful manner and is consistent in her upbeat approach with children. The students at La Tercera all adore her and look forward to the lunch period, not only for the delicious meals her team prepares, but also for her wam1 and heartfelt greeting to each one of them.” —Craig Conte, Superintendent
Tim Gilligan | Ridgway High School, Santa Rosa City Schools | Student Advisor
“Here since 1985, Tim Gilligan has been integral in helping develop the respected alternative education option our district offers struggling students...Tim is gifted at communicating with our kids who are not succeeding and meets one on one to motivate them to take advantage of RHS's program. He encourages them to stay, work and reach their dream of graduation.” —Valerie Jordan, Principal
Linda Zabala | Santa Rosa City Schools | Student Information System Coordinator
“Ms. Zabala has been an energetic, exemplary employee of Santa Rosa City Schools since 1999, primarily at one school site, and in the last two years as Student Information System (SIS) Coordinator at the District Office...The same dedication and diligence, depth of experience, and customer service skills she gave to the school as an office manager, she brought to and ramped up for the district as coordinator of the new student system. With her insights into student information at the school site level and her insistence on efficiency and attention to detail, she has been instrumental, in fact, indispensable, in the successful implementation of the new SIS. To say she "hit the ground running" is to understate her skills. ” —Diann Kitamura, Superintendent