Santa Barbara County Education Office recognizes Santa Barbara County Classified School Employees of the Year

The Santa Barbara County Education Office recognized six exceptional individuals as the 2020 and 2021 Santa Barbara County Classified School Employees of the Year. Eli Davis, Isidro Duarte, and Francisca "Kika" Perez are the 2021 honorees. Patty Lopez, Antonio Reyes, and Christie Ruelas are the 2020 honorees. The Santa Barbara County Board of Education celebrated this dedicated group of employees at its September 2, 2021, Board meeting.

"Classified employees are critical in educating tomorrow's leaders, and we honor them for their work with students in Santa Barbara County," said Dr. Susan Salcido, Santa Barbara County Superintendent of Schools. "These honorees represent the hundreds of school staff members who play a vital role in supporting student learning, health, and development."

The annual classified employee of the year recognition highlights the contributions of classified school employees who serve public school students in numerous ways, from keeping schools and grounds clean to providing engaging instructional support in the classroom or online to serving nutritious meals and snacks.

The 2021 award recipients and a quote from their nominator or supervisor are listed below:

Eli Davis, Clerical and Administrative Services category
Special Education Division, Santa Barbara County Education Office (SBCEO)

"Not only is Eli an expert at his job, but he goes out of his way to look for ways to help those around him. He makes everyone feel as though their situation is the most important task on his list," said Deby Geiger, Director, Special Education, SBCEO.

Isidro Duarte, Food & Nutrition Services category
Kitchen Lead, Franklin School, Santa Barbara Unified School District

"Isidro is one of the best, brightest, and most dependable employees I have," said Matthew Dittman, Director of Food Services, Santa Barbara Unified School District. "During this pandemic, when many families are struggling to put food on the table, school food service has been an instrumental service. Isidro is an essential part of that service. He helps feed our community and, importantly, helps members in our community avoid the feelings of indignity often associated with getting free meals by treating each person as an important and respectable member of our community."

Francisca “Kika” Perez, Paraprofessional category
Cuyama Elementary School, Cuyama Joint Unified School District

Cuyama Joint Unified School District Superintendent Alfonso Gamino said, "The teaching staff speaks very highly of the classified staff because they see how professional and dedicated Francisca is towards helping all teachers and towards helping students. Francisca is very efficient and productive, and she seeks no greater reward than to see the smiling faces of the students each day. Making a difference drives Francisca to strive to be the best paraprofessional she can be each day."  

The 2020 award recipients and a quote from their nominator or supervisor are listed below:

Patty Lopez, Office and Technical category
District Receptionist, Lompoc Unified School District

Patty's supervisor, Bree Valla, Assistant Superintendent, Human Resources at Lompoc Unified School District, said, "For almost twenty years, Patty has been the face and voice of the Lompoc Unified School District. In the blink of an eye, she can identify the needs of parents, job applicants, business partners, and, if she is unable to assist, direct them to the appropriate person or department. Her knowledge of every department in the District is invaluable."

Antonio Reyes, Maintenance, Operations, and Transportation category
Lead Maintenance and Operations employee, Peabody Charter School, Santa Barbara Unified School District

"Taking care of a ninety-one-year-old school takes courage," said Demian Barnett, Superintendent/Principal, Peabody Charter School. "This is even truer when the school is the largest elementary in Santa Barbara, and you're a team of one. When the inevitable things go wrong—leaking roofs, feisty skunks, large fields, the ever-protesting plumbing system, and more, there is one man at Peabody that jumps right in and handles whatever is coming his way. That man is Antonio Reyes. While I know there are many hardworking, talented, and dedicated people out there helping to keep our schools functioning (literally), Mr. Reyes is in a league of his own and deserving of this award."

Christie Ruelas, Paraeducator and Instructional Assistance category
Instructional Aide, Santa Ynez Elementary School, College School District

Maurene Donner, Superintendent/Principal, College School District, said, "Christie creates a safe learning environment for students. Students know they can depend on her for the extra support they need to help them complete their assignments. Christie is a highly valued staff member. If there is a job that needs to be done, I can always count on her to assist without reservation. She is fun, encouraging, and a morale booster for all."