In the spirit of the 2020 Vision’s call on everyone in our community to work together to educate our students, Liberty Hill Missionary Baptist Church in Berkeley celebrated their annual “Education Recognition Sunday” on September 22, 2013 by honoring Outstanding Educators in our school district.
Based on the recommendations submitted by district staff, forty-nine Berkeley Unified teachers and classified staff were recognized as “Outstanding Educators” on Education Sunday. Those who were able to attend were honored warmly by the Reverend Dr. Marvis Peoples, who is also a retired Oakland principal. Those who were unable to attend will be presented their certificates on Staff Development Day. Below are the statements about each educator. Take a moment to congratulate any of these individuals you know, and thank them for their commitment to our students. It is inspiring.
Nominated by Rikki Moreno, RN – District Nurse
Michelle Contreras is a 1st grade teacher in Two Way Immersion (TWI) at Rosa Parks. She has an amazing ability to recognize each of her students as unique individuals and subsequently address their individual needs. She sees each child for who they are, and is present for them. Her passion for educating children so that they not only meet academic requirements, but also learn to be kind, sensitive and fair community members is evident in her classroom on a daily basis. Michelle Contreras is an outstanding educator and it is inspiring to watch her teach. She is a gift to her students her school community and BUSD.
Nominated by King Principal Janet Levenson
Terrell Boone (now at Adult School)
Mr. Boone worked as a substitute safety officer at King for the past 2 years. He was a beloved member of our community. The kids, teachers, staff, and parents appreciated his commitment to the physical and emotional safety of every child. The merchants and neighbors appreciated how well he attended to their needs when the students were sometimes negatively impacting the neighborhood. Mr. Boone was EVERYWHERE! Any time there was an incident, an emergency, a need Mr. Boone was the first to respond. He had a great sense of humor and a kind heart and became a trusted adult by even the most jaded and guarded students. We miss having him on our campus!
Fred Sims (“Coach”)
Coach Sims runs our huge sports program at King and keeps adding new teams so that even more students can play. He organizes activities on the yard at lunch, even organizing adult vs student games and encouraging parents to join in the games. Coach is a true advocate for the scholar-athlete concept. He reminds parents and students that high school marks the end of most students’ sports careers. He is a welcome voice for academic pursuits and can give that message because he is so well respected as an athletic mentor and role model.
Kevin Anderson, Jacqueline Rastrullo, Jill Bergan, Jeff Fillingham-Selk
These are the fabulous people who are teaching our AVID classes (Advancement Via Individual Determination). They work tirelessly to encourage a college mindset in our mid-performing students, and to develop the necessary skills in the students so that they will successful in that pursuit. They not only work diligently to get students to reach the very high standards that they set, but they also build a strong community in their classes.
Nominated by Longfellow Principal Pat Saddler
Yolanda Pecot is very significant office staff person at Longfellow. She is the Sr. Records Clerk, but wears many hats; nurse, counselor, mother, grandmother, organizer and legal adviser. Ms. Pecot provides leadership and support to the entire school staff. She is a stickler for proper procedures and protocol, which ensures that all of us are doing things by the book. Her kindness and smile are infectious; she makes our daily challenges manageable, which supports our efforts to create a welcoming school environment for our students, staff and parent community.
Sandra Lane is our School Librarian; she has brought her years of knowledge about books to our school. Under her leadership we have a strong community of student readers, many of whom read over a one million words per school year. She provides ongoing support for our Accelerated Reader Program. Ms. Lane has supported our staff, students and families with knowledge and awareness on cyber bullying. She enjoys holding button making workshops for our students on incentive days. Ms. Lane has expanded our collection to include numerous books of interest of our students everything from the classics to The Hunger Games.
Angela Gilder is our After-school LEARNS Coordinator. She works tirelessly to create a program that supports our school-day and allows our students to experience fun enrichment activities. She works well with the students and enjoys having them visit her office during the lunch recesses. She has created a Game Room which is very popular during lunch and after-school. Ms. Gilder understands the social development phase of middle school students, and enjoys engaging them in fun less structured activities.
Nominated by Nina Ziskin, Education Specialist at Longfellow Middle School – “I truly mean it when I say that a day doesn’t go by that I don’t consider myself blessed to have the support of both of these women, and I don’t know what I would do without them.”
Tonya Warren has been a solid presence in our 7th and 8th grade Science classes for many years. She somehow manages to get most of the IEP and RTII students to keep track of and turn in packets of multiple assignments on the due date. This is quite a challenge for a group of students who often have poor organization and executive functioning skills. In addition, Tonya is a pleasure to work with because she is always cheerful and positive. But Tonya’s true gift is most obvious at lunchtime. Every day at lunch, you will see her surrounded by students, including those on my caseload, who don’t socialize easily or well with their peers. She gathers these socially awkward students into a cohesive group that eats lunch together daily, and facilitates satisfying social interactions among them. These are kids who would otherwise be alone and isolated at lunch, and be targets for bullying. Tonya blesses these kids with a positive lunch experience every single day. She might just be the most important part of their middle school experience.
Jeanette Williams provides support in the 6th grade Science classes, and manages to somehow ensure that the students supports (most of whom have IEP’s and poor organizational/academic skills) complete and turn in their assignments. She also works in a specialized math class I teach for the more severely handicapped students. She has been working with this population longer than I have, and I have learned a great deal from her. I rely on her opinion about what our students are capable of, and how to get their best performance. She also keeps track of numerous details that I”m sure I would lose track of without her help, and she has a very tactful way of reminding me. Overall, I would say that I feel like she always “has my back” and she is very professional. The students like and respect her very much, as well. She is a pleasure to work with because she is always cheerful and willing to do whatever is needed to provide our students with the best possible experience at school.
Nominated by Elaine Eger, Special Education Program Supervisor
Greg Williams, Operations Manager has worked for the District for many years and has always been the epitome of a kind, gentle man – a role model for countless students. When he was at King Middle school, he was often the staff member chosen by students with special needs as their “go-to” person – an adult on campus whom the students trusted with their personal worries and concerns. As he has risen through the ranks, Greg is the person who can be counted on to make certain a job is done and done to perfection. He is responsive, concerned about student welfare and has pride of plant operations that translates into schools where students are visibly respected and learning is key. When the (District Office) move to the new building was made, it was Greg who worked round the clock to ensure that staff was comfortable and had working spaces. Greg’s attention to detail and perfection is evident in all his actions and interactions – both with people and for people in ensuring positive working conditions.
Annette Johnson-Banks and Erendira Sanchez’s work with the special education department and ensuring that transportation needs are met have been an act of faith, trust and collaboration. They adapt schedules for students with special needs, re-work transit routes so that students with special needs can ride in the appropriate vehicle and in the Least Restrictive Environment [LRE]- i.e. they ensure that ALL students can experience transportation in a similar manner. The whole transportation department’s consideration of the LRE has generated a transportation system that is inclusive and respectful of all students. Eren and Annette schedule, reschedule, remind and organize multi-levels of transportation needs and all with a pleasant and collaborative attitude.
Lila Wilkinson works with general education and special education staff to create a rich, collaborative learning environment that builds on student success and self-respect. Lila works to build student confidence as well as independence.
Shelia Gause is a grounded professional who works to ensure student success through family collaboration and integrating needs and strengths of and for each student. She and Tamara Greenleaf work as a team to serve all students with kindness, professionalism and critical intervention.
Tamara Greenleaf is a strong professional who works with many students to create a welcoming learning environment ~ even in the face of significant learning challenges. She teams with Shelia Gause to create a learning center that is a place of desire for students to retreat, to learn, and to challenge themselves to greater learning efforts.
Andrea Jason is a behavior specialist paving the way for responsive intervention, helping staff identify student challenges and positive interventions. She works with challenging behaviors and works to link student achievement with teacher intervention. She is a realist, having been a classroom teacher of both English speaking students and students learning English as a second language.
Julie Venuto is a tireless worker supporting teachers to help students achieve. Julie’s willingness to research reasons, supports, curriculum and strategies creates a higher level of professionalism for all teachers and her calm, accepting manner allows others to feel safe to recognize needs. Julie offers compassion, passion for teaching students at all levels of both achievement and challenge and her dedication to both teachers and students makes her a leader in our schools.
Anna Staff is an adaptive P.E. teacher [APE] who gives of herself for students with physical challenges. Her gentle, but firm expectations, help students extend themselves and their physical achievements. Anna is a team player who supports students not only on her caseload, but researches community opportunities for student involvement in physical activities at their levels. Her involvement with the BORP community has brought much enthusiasm for typical recreational opportunities for students with physical impairments.
Bay Area Outreach and Recreation Program (BORP) is a community agency that promotes a panoply of physical, recreational activities for students with physical impairments – including, but not limited to wheelchair basketball, water-skiing, basketball, etc. They are an inclusive agency for students with limited vision, wheelchair users and other physical difference.
Nominated by Suzanne McCulloch, Supervisor Visual and Performing Arts
I wish to nominate the dedicated, hardworking music teachers as Outstanding Educators for 2013. Not only must they teach at many grade levels K-12, they travel between five or six schools during the week AND they work diligently to meet the needs of all of the students they teach. Many of them teach multiple instruments, often in the same class concurrently. The middle and high school groups are as large as 80 students and yet the music teachers make sure that all questions are answered and each student is successful as an individual and as part of the band or orchestra.
The music teachers work days do not end with the school day as there are concerts and festivals to plan and music scores to revise so that all students have access to the material. In addition, in 2013-14 all seventeen teachers are participating in the Mills Scholars program (professional development), researching individual topics to ensure success for all of their students. All teachers work hard, but the music teachers are an especially dedicated and devoted team!
The music teachers are: Nancy Boyles, Roland Brown, Sarah Cline, Jan Davis, Mabel Dong, Mary Dougherty, Judy Fendell, Peter Gidlund, Michael Hammond, Caroline Harrison, Merlyn Katechis, Aimee Lubalin, Madeline Prager, Alison Sawyer, Steffanie Schaeffer, Henry Viets and Karen Wells
Nominated by Mark Coplan, BUSD Public Information Officer
I wish to nominate Deputy Superintendent Javetta Cleveland as a 2013-14 Outstanding Educator. While she is widely known as one of the top school financial officers in the state, evident by her outstanding stewardship of BUSD resources, I have had the opportunity this past year to get to know her as a supervisor.
I was amazed to discover that one of her greatest gifts is her ability to manage, support, develop and inspire people. I saw her cook food for bus drivers; greet custodians, groundskeepers, managers, clerks and electricians by name, knowing personal details about all of them. I’ve seen that she really cares about every one of the hundreds of employees who fall under her direction, and that they know it by her actions. I discovered that even our employee unions recognize her efforts as an important piece of employee satisfaction in BUSD.
Much like another of my personal heroes, Sonya Soto-Mayor, Javetta often enters a room greeting the lowest ranking individuals first, knowing that they have a greater need for her attention than managers, directors or VIPs. She does this so earnestly that it is obvious that she does it because she was raised to know that it’s the right thing to do. Greater than my appreciation of her as my own direct supervisor was the opportunity to really observe how she treats others.
Nominated by Superintendent Donald Evans
First off, I want to recognize the over 1,300 outstanding BUSD employees I have the pleasure of working with and observing every day. One of my priorities in my first year in Berkeley is to make sure that each and every one of them knows that I value them all as Outstanding Educators. I appreciate that Liberty Hill Missionary Baptist Church reminds us every September of the importance of recognizing all of those who are committed to helping our students succeed.
As a Ed.D grad student at Cal, and a life time educator, one of the things that always impressed me with Berkeley was the level of volunteerism and the commitment that the surrounding community makes in partnership with Berkeley’s public schools. One of the first experiences I had coming into the District, was in helping Berkeley City Council-member Darryl Moore distribute beautiful Rosa Parks backpacks and school supplies to incoming kindergarten students, at a Rosa Parks Elementary School Incoming Family Welcome event. I learned that Council-member Moore saw the need for this years before when he “adopted” the school as a Rotarian, and immediately reached out to West Berkeley businesses to fund the project when he was elected to City Council. For his service to all Berkeley students, and specifically for his commitment to Rosa Parks Elementary School, I nominate Berkeley City Council-member Darryl Moore as a 2013 Outstanding Educator.
At that event, I learned that K to College, an organization committed to delivering school supplies to low income students, has partnered with Council-member Moore to provide the backpacks’ contents, giving each student approximately $70 worth of school supplies. Where K to College started out as a small philanthropy project by two Cal students to provide supplies to 300 youth through Berkeley Parks and Recreation, they have gone on to build an organization that is distributing school supplies to low income families throughout the state and beyond. On October 6th they will be working with us to distribute a bag of school supplies valued at approximately $70, to approximately 3,000 low income BUSD students. I want to nominate one of K to College’s co-founders and Executive Director, Benito Delgado-Olson as a 2013 Outstanding Educator.
BUSD 2013 We Care Awardees Were Recognized:
Elizabeth Haro, Administrative Secretary – Curriculum & Instruction
Catherine Stillman, Accounting Technician — Special Education
Socorro (Cora) Marcelo, Senior Budget Analyst — Accounting
Bradley Hilton, Senior Systems Specialist — Technology
Angelina Johnson, Satellite Operator – Nutrition Services
Robert Castillo, Mechanic — Transportation
Sandeep Kumar, Custodian – King Dining Commons
Rodney Lewis, Custodian — Berkeley Adult School
Chanita Stevenson, Administrative Coordinator — Facilities
Joel Swink, Communications Technician – Maintenance
Many classified employees have participated in WE CARE training, on-going staff development to create systems and service standards to support the WE CARE expectations:
WILLINGNESS: Willing to take the extra steps or go the extra mile
EMPATHY: Communicating caring and individualized attention
CONSISTENCY: Delivering core services in a consistent and dependable manner
APTITUDE: Demonstrating a high level of knowledge and skills
RESPONSIVENESS: Responding to customer requests or inquiries within 2 business days
EFFECTIVENESS: Delivering services in a user-friendly and high quality manner
WE CARE creates an organizational environment that supports strong interdepartmental relations and effective functioning of the interrelated systems that are necessary to create a responsive and customer-friendly work environment.