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Excellence in Education - 2019 Award Finalists

Superintendent of Schools Dr. Cecilia A. Massetti opened the Excellence in Education Awards Ceremony with a quote from an Eddie Layton song, “You’ve gotta have heart, miles ‘n miles n’ miles of heart.”  She went on to explain the nominees and winners of the event this year care deeply for the students of Madera County.  Many of them are homegrown and invested in the children and the Madera community. They are imaginative, compassionate, and driven leaders setting examples for their peers and the children they serve.

Classified Employee of the Year, Pedro “Pete” Ramos, Head Custodian of Fairmead Elementary School in the Chowchilla Elementary School District shared his story of a difficult upbringing in East Los Angeles, where he, his siblings, and his mother struggled for bare necessities.  His trials help him identify with the students on the Fairmead campus.  When students are struggling whether it be physically or emotionally, Mr. Pete (as the kids call him) knows how to connect with them and support them.  Mr. Pete stated, “I love my job and I love doing my job.  Working with 550 students each day has taught me to be more caring, more compassionate, and much more patient.  I learn from them each and every day.

Administrator of the Year Oracio Rodriguez, Principal at Madera South High School with the Madera Unified School District was raised in Madera.  The son of migrant workers, he learned early on the value in hard work and the importance an education can play in the role of success.  Mr. Rodriguez commented, “For me, the purpose of education is to empower people to improve their lives and their communities.  Having achieved a relative level of academic, career, and personal success as a result of an education in Madera instilled in me a moral imperative to expand this opportunity as broadly to others as I have the capacity to do.”

Teacher of the Year Richele Hedberg, Kindergarten Teacher for Stephens Elementary School in the Chowchilla Elementary School District believes wholeheartedly in imaginative play.  She feels allowing children to be creative while maintaining State standards helps promote success in the lives of her students.  Mrs. Hedberg said, “I would like to dedicate a special thanks to my amazing students.  It has been inspirational to follow your journey from kindergarten through high school, to career achievements and parenthood.  I will be forever grateful for the privilege of learning together and also for the honor of being your student.  Thank you for being my teacher and helping to preserve the child in me!”

A video presentation of the winners was shown at the event, which was held October 10th in the Madera County Superintendent of Schools Conference Center, along with a video slideshow of the nominees.  This is the 13th year Educational Employees Credit Union (EECU) has sponsored the event. EECU President and CEO Elizabeth J. Dooley commented, “This event is a wonderful way to acknowledge the efforts and contributions of the many fine educators who guide our students toward a bright future.