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Top of the Class: District Names its Classified Employees of the Year

The West Contra Costa Unified School District kicked off Classified Employee Week by announcing its Classified Employees of the Year. Six individuals ranging from school custodian to school office manager to special education aide were all recognized based on nominations and selection by their colleagues.

Kennedy High School Instructional Assistant Sopheap Sap, Middle College Office Manager Kristina Moore, Peres School Secretary Luz Hernandez, Tara Hills Head Custodian Jose Corona and Special Education Aide Merlene Gay, and Information Technology Desktop Support Technician Dennis Lai were announced as the Classified Employees of the Year and will recognized at the District’s 3rd Annual Employee Recognition Event from 4 p.m to 6 p.m. on Thursday, May 30 at the Richmond Memorial Auditorium.

Here is a brief description about each of the six employees of the year:

Jose Corona, Head Custodian, Tara Hills Elementary School

Corona has been with the District since 2009 and was recognized for his helpful and proactive approach to his tasks. His nominator said Corona understands kids and the students at Tara Hills really appreciate his thoughtfulness.

Merlene Gay, IA Special Education Visually Impaired, Tara Hills Elementary School

For the past 20 years, Gay has been supporting special education students in the District. Gay’s colleagues called her more like a “mom” because of her love and dedication she shows to students whether it is staying late to help out or coming in early to set up.
Her nominator recommended her because of her work to braille worksheets for students and her work to ensure that the students and teacher have everything they need to succeed.

Luz Hernandez, School Secretary, Peres Elementary School

Hernandez was called the glue of the Peres family because of her passion and dedication to the school. Hernandez has worked for the District for the past 17 years. Her nominator said Hernandez plays a key role in the communication to not only families but to the rest of the Peres staff because of her attention to detail and making sure to follow up on items. She is also great with students and when a student is sent to the office, the Peres family knows that when a “student is sent to the office I know I can count on Luz to handle the situation with care, attention to detail and sincerity.”

Dennis Lai, Desktop Support Technician, IT Department

Lai is a constant fixture at the District administration building, helping staff members with their IT needs. Lai’s four nominators all praised his ability to remain calm and to quickly resolve technology issues under stressful times. One nominator said that Lai played a key part in a number of big projects, including Teacher Laptop Replacement, District Copier Replacement, and Chromebook Evaluation. When he has a spare moment, you can find Lai, who began working with the District in 1999, training or searching the internet to increase his IT knowledge. One nominator called Lai “a true champion for higher education with his tireless commitment to serving our District.”

Kristina Moore, Office Manager, Middle College High School

Moore has been a fixture for the Middle College program not only as the office manager but as a parent with two sons that have graduated from the school. Moore’s nominator said that students can go to Moore with just about anything: transcripts, schedule issues, attendance, tablet problems and much more. Moore’s dedication to helping students in anyway was also highlighted. Her nominator said that “Ms. Moore sets an example for not just the students but for the staff as well.” Moore has been with the District since 2005.

Sopheap Sap, Instruction Assistant, Kennedy High School

Sap’s work was called trustworthy, dependable and willing to go beyond what is expected and a key role in the teaching team. Sap and her nominator have been working together for the past six years and she said that what she admires most is Sap’s gentleness she brings to her approach to her job of assisting young learners. Sap, who began working for the District in 2009, has engaged students with art projects, gardening and cooking. Her nominator said she had learn much from Sap about good teaching. “The kindness and help of Sopheap has no limits,” said Sap’s nominator. “She has no limits. … (she) is the a huge reason not only why our program has quite a good reputation among our peers, parents, but also me postponing my retirement by a few more years.”