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By Toni DeRosa
Wasco Tribune 

WUESD honors faculty, staff at event


Last updated 5/17/2019 at 5:35pm | View PDF

Toni DeRosa | Wasco Tribune

WUESD Teacher of the Year Rene De Leon.

Wasco Union Elementary School District took some time out on Thursday to celebrate and recognize its staff.

This year, the district honored distinguished alumna and former band teacher Miriam Grisso at the ceremonies.

Grisso, a native of Wasco, taught band for fourth through eighth grades for 26 years at the WUESD. She received her bachelor's and master's degrees in music from the University of Southern California. She was also a flutist for the Long Beach Symphony, Westchester/Marina del Rey Symphony, Palomar Symphony and the Misica da Camera Symphony.

"Miriam Grisso's bands won a multitude of awards," Richers said. "The Thomas Jefferson band became one of the premier award-winning bands of the county through her efforts."

She was one of the first women in the Trojan Marching Band in 1971, and is a USC football fan.

"She's also a big Dodgers' baseball fan," Richers said. "She enjoys needlepoint and driving her beloved 1931 lavender and purple Ford Model A."

Grisso also drove her Model A in the Wasco Rose Festival Parade for years.

Superintendent Kelly Richers was master of ceremonies for the event. Guests included board members Danny Rueda, Clerk Richard Reding, Luis Fernandez and Anna Poggi.

"It is hard because some of the work is very repetitive; its's hard sometimes when you feel things are not what you expected," Richers said to the assembled group. "More important than any other aspect of the work you do is you deal with peoples' lives and guide them."

Richers said James Forrest Elementary School and the new gymnasium at Palm Avenue will both be ready for the opening of school.

"The maintenance operations and transportation building will be completed by Christmas next year," Richers added. "Tours of both sites will be made available before they open this year."

Richers also mentioned that all the schools will be fully solar powered as well this year.

He then introduced special guests Father Raul Sanchez from St. John's Catholic Church, City Manager Daniel Ortiz-Hernandez, City Council member Gilberto Reyna and Human Resources Director Nancy Vega.

Richers then called the school principals to the podium to introduce their candidates for classified employee of the year and teacher of the year.

The principals presented each employee with a special plaque.

Principal Rosalinda Chairez from John L. Pruitt School introduced teacher Anthony Vagle and classified employee Sarah Poettgen.

"Sarah enjoys working with kids," Chairez said.

In response, Teacher of the Year Vagle said, "I look forward to coming to work every day."

Principal Sam Torres of Karl F. Clemens School introduced teacher Sharon Lockard and classified Flora Hughes.

"She is a model teacher," Hughes said of Lockard.

Principal Steffanie Pollard of Palm Avenue School introduced teacher Cheryl Stephens and classified Noemi Gomez.

"Cheryl is passionate and an advocate for her students," Pollard said. "Noemi is always smiling and brings brightness to the classroom."

Principal of Teresa Burke Monique Goodwill introduced teacher Marcus Lee Ballard and classified employee Mayra Velazquez.

"I've worked with Marcus within the community," Goodwill said. "It's truly an honor to present him with this award. He goes above and beyond."

"Myra Velazquez is a dedicated team player," Goodwill added.

Thomas Jefferson Principal Danny Arellano introduced Teacher of the Year Rene De Leon and classified employee Erica Simmons.

"She brings a lot of experience in her job," Arellano said about Simmons. "She shares interesting skills with her classrooms."

Richers announced the district's teacher of the year from Thomas Jefferson Rene De Leon and the district's classified employee of the year Suzanne Gallardo, who works in the MOT department.

Rene De Leon, an 8th grade history teacher, has worked in numerous capacities over the past 13 years for several different areas in the district such as summer school teacher, extended day teacher, long-term English learner

De Leon has worked in numerous capacities over the past 13 years, such as summer school teacher, extended day teacher, long-term English learner coordinator, boys softball coach, migrant summer school teacher, chaperone for Close-Up Program, Score For College teacher, ASES enrichment teacher, Saturday School teacher and more.

He also works with the district's Long-Term English Learners and meets one-on-one with each EL student to review their academic progress/status. He then develops and sets goals with each individual student.

"De Leon makes home visits to conference with parents on their student's academic progress/status," Richers said. "He establishes and maintains a positive rapport with staff, parents and students."

De Leon is successful and motivational in reaching those students who are difficult to reach/motivate.

"Day in and day out, he goes the extra mile to provide his classroom with a sense of community by building trust and spreading enthusiasm and humor." Richers added.

Additionally, Richers announced that Lorena Cozad reached 50 years of service in the district.

Employees were announced for employees who each reached 5, 10, 15, 20, 25, 30, 35, 40 years and, of course, Cozad.

5 years

Lydia Albert, Azalea Anguiano, Anna Armendariz, Michael Bussell, Brenda Cortez, Eva Del Real Olquin, Wendy Del Toro, Maribel Garcia, Marina Gonzalez, Valerie Juarez, Evelina Martinez, Patricia Munoz, Everado Ocampo, Karina Ortiz, Lorena Perez, Arianna Ramirez, Karina Ortiz, Lorena Perez, Arianna Ramirez, Kimberly Rodarte, Diane Rubio, Alfonso Serna, Jr. and Jacquelyn Stonecipher.

10 years

Daniel Acosta, Robert Bernal, Melissa Bradez, Holli Capilla, Lucia Delira, Mindy Gereke, Rosalelia Gonzalez, Freddy Gutierrez and Gina Tallon.

15 years

Melody Anderson, Randy Dunlap, Deana Linstead, Lucia Malone and Cristina Wilkerson.

20 years

Korinna Campbell, Maribel Esquivel, Anna Flores, Jose Gomez, Elizabeth Irving, Benito Juarez, Marissa Juarez, Rafaela Lopez, Raymond Rede, Janette Reyes., Saldivar, Pilar Samaniego, Patricia Torres and Margaret Wareham.

25 years

Daniel Arellano, Marianne Botts, Elida Capilla, Marianne Botts, Maria L. Dominguez, Caroline Grant and Kathy Richers.

Toni DeRosa | Wasco Tribune

Thomas Jefferson faculty in front of the school.

30 years

Shannon Harris, Sandy Knox, Robert Parrot and Nelisa Vega.

35 years

Robert Perez, Jr. and Monica Reed

40 years

Hilda Moreno and Martiniano Sandoval.

50 years

Lorena Cozad


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