Marcia Pfefferle, an instructional assistant at the Santa Barbara County Education Office, has been named Santa Barbara County Classified Employee of the Year and was honored Thursday at a ceremony during the meeting of the Santa Barbara County Board of Education.

The county recognition is part of the California School Employee of the Year Program.

“We were happy to take part in this program,” County Superintendent Bill Cirone said. “Each year we honor the Teacher of the Year and outstanding schools; it is fitting that we also include the school staff members who play such a key role in supporting children’s achievement, safety and health.”

To qualify, the employee must have been in the same service category for at least five years.

The nomination process started at the district level, where each district was invited to select one employee from six categories, including child nutrition, maintenance and operations, transportation, para-educator, office and technical services, and support services and security. A county committee reviewed the nominations and selected the county’s nominees.

Pfefferle, the nominee in the para-educator category, has been an instructional assistant for eight years. She serves as an itinerant support provider in the special-education division, working with students ages 3 to 22 in a variety of programs, and is able to make a seamless transition between the student’s age and the appropriate support that needs to be provided in each case. She connects with multiple people on multiple schools sites in many regions of the county.

“The primary focus of her position is to help students with behavior challenges that disrupt their ability to successfully access their education,” Special-Education Director Cathy Breen said. “She has been instrumental in remediating difficulties for students throughout the county who pose unique challenges that have stumped the day-to-day school staff.

“I am awed by the ease at which she can walk into a small rural K-8 school with a high English Learner populations, a wealthy elementary school with high expectations for student support and success, a large high school campus, and a variety of preschool settings and her ability to immediately … put all others around her at ease knowing that she will be of real assistance. She is a true team player and a gifted problem solver.

“Her sincere, warm, intuitive, insightful approach to working with adults and children is so highly valued by those she supports. She is creative, determined, conscientious and caring.”

— Wendy Shelton is director of communications for the Santa Barbara County Education Office.