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Education Office Names Classified Employees of Year

Naomi Sanchez of El Puente Community School in Lompoc and Julie Yamada of Tommie Kunst Junior High School in the Santa Maria-Bonita School District receive the honor

Naomi Sanchez, a paraprofessional educator and teaching assistant at the Santa Barbara County Education Office’s El Puente Community School in Lompoc, and Julie Yamada, office manager at Tommie Kunst Junior High School in the Santa Maria-Bonita School District, were named Santa Barbara County Classified Employees of the Year.

Sanchez and Yamada will be honored at a ceremony during a special meeting of the Santa Barbara County Board of Education on May 20.

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 three 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 districts’ nominations and selected the county’s nominees.

Sanchez has been a teaching assistant at El Puente Lompoc for 20 years. In her role as teaching assistant, she also finds time to translate, perform extra custodial duties, pick up food for the breakfast program and student store, and lead students on brisk daily walks for P.E.

Fellow teacher-assistant Ann Thompson wrote: “Naomi’s positive spirit and attitude mix well with the students and staff … there is no question she assists in running a tight ship, supporting the teachers and staff rules and regulations.”

Yamada has served as office manager at Tommie Kunst Junior High School in the Santa Maria-Bonita School District for five years.

Principal Ed Cora wrote: “Ms. Yamada is being nominated due to the simple fact that she far exceeds all of the qualifies defined in the selection criteria. … All who enter through the school doors discover a warm and inviting atmosphere … due to her friendly nature, professionalism, and attention to your needs. … In addition to being exceptionally intelligent, Julie is extremely helpful, kind, and considerate. Under her leadership, the office has become a collection of highly organized resources available to all at a moment’s notice. Other office staff members are inspired by her leadership and aspire to emulate her organizational mastery.”

— Wendy Shelton represents the Santa Barbara County Education Office.

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