Celebrating Classified School Employees
The Sonoma County Office of Education on Wednesday, April 26, recognized outstanding classified school employees from around the county. From instructional aides and bus drivers to cafeteria workers and IT personnel, classified staff are often unsung heroes who play key roles in creating supportive school environments that foster student achievement, safety, and health.
A total of 19 classified employees were nominated by their school districts for the work they do on behalf of the students of Sonoma County. Seven, each representing a different category of worker, were selected as finalists for the state-level Classified School Employees of the Year award.
Each finalist selected by a judging panel received a $100 gift card donated by Exchange Bank and a certificate from County Superintendent of Schools Dr. Amie Carter, who emceed Wednesday’s award ceremony.
Meet the finalists and nominees below.
Ana Contreras | Roseland School District | Clerical and Administrative Services
“Ana goes the extra mile to support those around her. … If we were to lose Ana, our entire business and HR teams would truly stop.” —Jenny Young, director of human resources, Roseland School District
Ed Conway | Wright Elementary School District | Custodial and Maintenance
“Ed knows how to balance being friendly with others while staying focused … There are always extra jobs that need attention on a school site. If Ed can help, he will.” —Corina Rice, principal, J.X. Wilson Elementary
Jenny Alvarez | Mattie Washburn Elementary, Windsor Unified School District | Health and Student Services
“Mrs. Alvarez is a resource to all and is considered the face of Mattie. … She is welcoming and has a knack to make all feel comfortable and at ease.” —Dr. Susan Yakich, principal, Mattie Washburn Elementary
Angie O’Rourke | Sonoma County Office of Education | Paraprofessional Services
“Students are instantly drawn to Angie. At times, I have witnessed children with limited motor abilities make great attempts to reach out to her. She provides a sense of calm, comfort, and joy to all of our students and staff.” —Judy Waller, speech language pathologist, Sonoma County Office of Education
Messias dos Santos | Windsor Unified School District | Security Services
“Messias is one of, if not the main face, of our school. … Whenever alumni come to visit, they always want to see Messias. Rarely are security personnel, who are tasked with maintaining order, so popular with the students.” —Forrest Harper, alternative education administrator, WUSD
Gisell Ambriz Gonzalez | Petaluma High, Petaluma City Schools | Technical Services
“Last year and currently, PHS has been understaffed for our bilingual aide support. Gisell took on extra responsibilities by helping our bilingual clerk to develop strategies to further support student academics.” —Giovanni Napoli, principal, Petaluma High
Lily Hughes | West County Transportation Agency | Transportation Services
“Lily is the agency’s most requested driver for school field trips, as well as maintaining her daily home-to-school route. … She has achieved 11 straight years of excellence in a rigorous set of safety standards and has received awards for each of those years.” —Chad Barksdale, executive director, West County Transportation Agency
Debbie Barberis, Petaluma City Schools
Robert Boggs, Sonoma County Office of Education
Kate Bria, Cloverdale High School, Cloverdale Unified School District
Gloria “Gigi” Carpenter, Windsor High, Windsor Unified School District
Christy Guidry, Sonoma County Office of Education
Claudia House, Sonoma County Office of Education
Tena Jackson, San Antonio High, Petaluma City Schools
Helen Kobayashi, Sonoma County Office of Education
Karen Lamb, West Sonoma County Union High School District
Amber McCann-Howlett, Sonoma Valley High, Sonoma Valley Unified School District
Michele Moughalian-Silkey, Sonoma Valley Unified School District
Lizeth Sanchez Guerrero, Jefferson Elementary, Cloverdale Unified School District