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Santa Maria diesel mechanics teacher honored with SBCEO Bill Cirone Heart of Education Award

Eduardo Gonzales-Ramos



For immediate release

April 20, 2023

SANTA BARBARA COUNTY - Eduardo Gonzales-Ramos, a medium & heavy-duty diesel mechanics teacher for the Santa Maria Joint Union High School District (SMJUHSD), was selected as the 2023 SBCEO Bill Cirone Heart of Education Award winner for his contributions as an exceptional educator. He was notified of the news during a surprise special visit to his classroom on Thursday, April 20, 2023. 

The Bill Cirone Heart of Education Award is presented to one outstanding educator each year by the Santa Barbara County Education Office in tribute to the legacy of longtime former County Superintendent of Schools, Bill Cirone.

As a teacher within the Diesel Mechanics program at the 25-acre Mark Richardson Career Technical Education Center & Ag Farms, Gonzales-Ramos is the primary instructor for students interested in diesel repair as a career. He was grateful, and humbled, to receive the prestigious award.

“I feel really honored,” said Gonzales-Ramos. “It was a big surprise and I feel blessed to receive it.”

His students gathered around him following the surprise announcement, saying the award was well deserved, and that in Mr. Gonzales’ class, “It’s easy to learn.”

Born and raised in Santa Maria, Gonzales-Ramos excelled as a Pioneer Valley High School auto shop class student, becoming the teaching assistant his senior year.

In 2018, he was hired by the Santa Maria Joint Union High School District as a full-time service technician, helping to keep a fleet of 36 buses, 78 vehicles, and 36 golf carts running smoothly. He was later promoted to become the district’s lead bus mechanic. His heart felt a tug back to the classroom, and in 2022, he earned his preliminary CTE teaching credential.

Gonzales-Ramos’s motivation stems from his passion for helping young build valuable skills and confidence that will serve them throughout their lives. 

“Eduardo embodies what we try to do for our students at Santa Maria Joint Union, which is to provide them with viable options for their futures,” stated Antonio Garcia, superintendent of Santa Maria Joint Union High School District. “He has grown up in our community, went to school in our district, worked in our district, and now to see him thriving as a teacher, having this amazing impact on our students, and seeing him succeed in this role, sets a wonderful example for both students and staff alike.”

Gonzales-Ramos will be recognized at the Santa Barbara County Education Office’s Education Celebration event on May 11, 2023, at the Santa Ynez Valley Marriot. 

“We are so proud to recognize Eduardo Gonzales-Ramos, a teacher who clearly exemplifies the passion, dedication, and care for students deserving of this award,” said County Superintendent of Schools Susan Salcido. “Careers in mechanics, construction, and other trades are vital to our communities and essential to our lives. We thank him for helping to develop that next generation of highly skilled professionals we all rely on.”

The Bill Cirone Heart of Education Award is presented by the Santa Barbara County Education Office Teachers Network. Cirone founded the Teachers Network in 1983. Upon his retirement, the award was established to create a tangible symbol of Cirone’s legacy of service and leadership. Gonzales-Ramos received a cash honorarium, a special plaque, and a visit from Cirone himself.

“This award is all about heart. Just like an engine is a pump, a good teacher’s heart is a pump that pumps care, love, skill, and so much more, and Eduardo demonstrates these qualities,” said Cirone during the visit on Thursday. “Eduardo is a true model and tribute to other teachers and to the profession at large.”