Dublin Unified School District recently celebrated its most outstanding faculty and staff members of the year, recognizing those serving more than 12,900 students at all levels of learning from preschool through adult education.
The annual awards presented at the May 12 Board of Trustees meeting included the 2019-2020 Teacher of the Year, New Teacher of the Year, Classified Employee of the Year and the Teresa Herrington Memorial Award.
"On some levels, it feels unfair to recognize our staff in this capacity, because we have so many exceptional employees who go above and beyond on a regular basis," Superintendent Dave Marken said in a statement. "Every day, the current environment we are experiencing provides multiple examples of our staff's commitment to this community. That said, it is important to celebrate their accomplishments and dedication."
Fallon Middle School teacher Nicole Richards topped the list of honorees as Teacher of the Year.
The English instructor "has spent her entire eight-year teaching career as a Mustang," according to the district, and launched the AVID program at Fallon to help students with college preparation just two years into her career there. As a regional AVID trainer, Richards also helps her colleagues use AVID strategies in their classrooms.
“I’m so honored and humbled by this recognition,” Richards said in a statement. “I miss having all the different personalities in one room. I love the amount of problem-solving that goes into this profession and collaborating with my brilliant colleagues. I view awards and recognition as an opportunity to reflect on what you’ve accomplished and as a chance to think about all that you still have to learn.”
Katie Hood received the New Teacher of the Year award for her work as a second-grade teacher at Frederiksen Elementary. The newcomer "quickly showed her ability to put forethought into classroom structures, organization, and routines" when first arriving at Frederiksen, the district said.
Known for spending "countless hours in her room setting up an environment any 7-year-old would love," DUSD said that Hood's "reflective nature and calm, caring demeanor are assets that assist in her focus on community building, student-centered management, and creating lifelong learners."
A time in her life when teaching hasn't been her dream job has never existed for Hood. “Working with children and encouraging them to grow and expand their knowledge is a passion of mine. I feel so lucky to be a part of the DUSD family and cannot wait to see what the future holds in this community," Hood said.
Longtime special education instructional assistant Amy VanEmmerik was named DUSD Classified Employee of the Year.
The Dublin native has supported numerous special education students at Dublin High School -- where she graduated from -- for more than 26 years, working in the special day class, and resource and Counseling Enriched programs.
VanEmmerik is "a respected leader in her department" who has trained "countless" teachers and instructional assistants. For the past two years VanEmmerik has sat on the DHS School Site Council and is known as an active advocate for her students.
“I started working at DHS while my children were in school and I was always planning to go back to work in the semiconductor industry when our kids became older,” VanEmmerik said. “Once I began working with the students, I became hooked. I found my niche. The students here in Dublin are wonderful. They are willing, able and excited to learn. Not only do the students learn from us, but I learn from them every single day. I can’t imagine doing anything else.”
Dublin Elementary's head custodian, Sean Adams, was presented the Teresa Harrington Memorial Award, named for the popular longtime school secretary who died in 2005. The award is given to a classified employee who "best exemplifies the character traits and qualities that Teresa exhibited throughout her 25 years of service with the district."
"Often the first person to arrive and the last person to leave the school," the district said, adding that Adams "helps to create a warm, friendly environment by greeting students, staff, and guests every morning. He has the ability to complete five tasks at once, with a smile, while walking a kindergartener back to class."
Adams began his career with the district in 2003 as a custodian at Dublin High. For ten years, Adams worked both day and night shifts, and rallied for football games, track events and band competitions. Adams moved to Dublin Elementary in 2013 when the head custodial position became available and has been there ever since.
“I love coming to work every day because the staff at my site are my family and even back at DHS they were too,” Adams said. “It’s a great district to work for and I thank everyone for this award.”
District officials also paid tribute with special District Recognition awards for teachers, staff, administration and volunteers "who have consistently demonstrated notable achievement in supporting the district's mission." The winners are nominated by members of the school community including teachers, parents, students and community groups.
One District Recognition winner, Michelle Partridge, is also Alameda County's Classified Employee of the Year. The lead service worker at Dublin High School was bestowed the honor "because of her dedication, positivity and leadership in her work for Dublin Unified School District," said the Alameda County Office of Education in a statement.
"Michelle leads the kitchen at Dublin High School, and has served as a lead food service worker for eight years, many of those years spent at Wells Middle School. Her focus on great-tasting and healthful options for students and timely service make her kitchen productive," ACCOE officials said. "Her thoughtful approach to her work, willingness to listen to others and nurturing nature make her team stronger and have improved the workplace environment - from the serving counters to the kitchen back door."
DUSD's District Recognition award winners for 2020 are:
* Darrell Chapman, computer technician I - district office
* Adrienne Conrad, mod/severe SDC teacher - Amador Elementary School
* Chip Dehnert, public information and community relations officer - district office
* Rachael Guinther, teacher/sixth-grade core - Fallon Middle School
* Teri Kolon, kindergarten teacher - Green Elementary School
* Alex Lopez, PE teacher - Murray Elementary School
* Kelvin McClain, campus supervisor - Fallon Middle School
* Teri Meadows, secretary III - Dublin Elementary School
* Chuck Mercer, PE teacher - Wells Middle School
* Kenna Moirao, third-grade teacher - Frederiksen Elementary School
* Michelle Partridge, lead food service worker - Dublin High School
* Sara Powers, volunteer - Amador Elementary School
* Nia Sallee, campus supervisor - Cottonwood Creek School
* Holly Scroggins, principal - Amador Elementary School
* Ashley Sheaff, English teacher - Dublin High School
* Richard VanHorn, lead custodian - Wells Middle School
* Gail Weston, volunteer - Dublin Elementary School
* Deborah Yamasaki, volunteer - Frederiksen Elementary School.