2023 California Classified School Employees of the Year

May 11, 2023

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond announced the recipients of 2023 California Classified School Employee of the Year Award. Six of those employees are CSEA members.

“My heartfelt congratulations go to these outstanding employees for going the extra mile to step up and support California’s students so they can continue to learn,” said Thurmond. “These dedicated employees make sure kids have healthy meals, safe campuses and transportation, and systems and supports during difficult and unexpected changes—ensuring all students are supported in their lives and in their education.”

The annual Classified School Employees of the Year (CSEY) program honors outstanding classified school employees in the following categories: Paraprofessional Services, Clerical and Administrative Services, Transportation Services, Food and Nutrition Services, Custodial and Maintenance Services, Security Services, Health and Student Services, Technical Services, and Skilled Trades Services. This year’s recipients were chosen from 151 nominations statewide. The 2023 award-winners will be honored by Thurmond at a luncheon in Sacramento on May 23, 2023.

Custodial and Maintenance Services
Kerry Wedel, American River Chapter 528

Kerry Wedel is a Head Custodian for Blanche Sprentz Elementary School in the Folsom Unified School District with 20 years of service.

Despite the loss of the multipurpose room and cafeteria due to a complete remodel, the addition of a large tent to replace the cafeteria, and the replacement of teacher and student furniture, Wedel is consistently positive and energetic. She takes time to greet students, families, and staff as she cleans up leaves, power washes cafeteria tables, and completes daily work orders for issues like clogged drains. Wedel is very observant and attuned to the needs of her school community and takes the initiative to problem-solve and remedy situations—often before others ever see them.

Food and Nutrition Services
Jaime Carranza, Garden Grove Chapter 121

Jaime Carranza is a Senior Warehouseman for Anaheim Union High School District with five years of service.

As the senior warehouseman for Food Services, Carranza’s responsibilities include ensuring school sites receive their deliveries, providing technical guidance to all drivers, monitoring and maintaining warehouse inventory, receiving and storing deliveries of food and supplies, and maintaining warehouse equipment and fleet trucks. Carranza goes above his responsibilities on a daily basis. He is dependable and is always ready and willing to assist in all areas. Carranza is approachable and friendly and consistently provides excellent customer service by maintaining open channels of communication. When challenges arise, he is quick to address them and offer up solutions. Because of his knowledge and experience and his willingness to assist others, employees never hesitate to call Carranza for assistance.

Health and Student Services
Amber Dimas, American River Chapter 528

Amber Dimas is a Health Assistant at Kinney High School in Folsom-Cordova Unified School District with five years of service.

Dimas is an incredible team member who demonstrates excellence in performing her duties taking care of students and staff as a Health Assistant at Kinney High School. She is ready to help at all times, but especially in times of crisis, with calm and well-reasoned responses. She develops systems of care to make delivery of services more efficient as well as demonstrating a high level of individualized care for all students on campus. Dimas truly comes from a whole-child approach and actively engages in supporting students with all their health needs. With her history and experience, Dimas provides those in need with connections to resources or referrals to appropriate support persons.

Paraprofessional Services
Carmen Perea-Tellez, Livermore Chapter 334

Carmen Perea-Tellez is an Instructional Assistant at Livermore High School in Livermore Valley Joint Unified School District with six years of service.

Perea-Tellez is known throughout the community as one who strives to become better connected so she can provide greater support to students, families, and faculty/staff. She never settles for what is good enough; rather, she proactively seeks to continuously learn and improve. She is a true leader. While working full-time as a Bilingual Instructional Aide, serving as our English Learner (EL) Coordinator, staying after school twice per week to provide tutoring to EL students, and maintaining regular contact with EL students and families, Perea-Tellez also attends college as a full-time student. Her goal is to become a school counselor.

Security Services
John Cantrell, Ontario-Montclair Chapter 108

John Cantrell is a Lead Campus Safety Officer for Ontario-Montclair School District with five years of service.

Cantrell’s exceptional leadership and commitment to ensuring the safety and well-being of the Ontario-Montclair school community have been evident throughout his tenure. He takes a proactive approach to addressing safety concerns as Lead Campus Safety Officer and implements measures to prevent potential incidents. His interpersonal skills and positive energy serve as an example and create a culture of safety and trust for colleagues and students. Cantrell’s leadership extends beyond the school; he has demonstrated a strong commitment to the community by working with local law enforcement agencies and participating in neighborhood programs to enhance safety measures in the surrounding areas.

Transportation Services
Teresa Altom, Hart-Ransom Paradise Chapter 699

Teresa Altom is a Maintenance, Operations and Transportation Secretary for Hart-Ransom Union School District with 21 years of service.

Altom is keenly aware of the wide range of responsibilities of the Transportation Department, which includes the creation and establishment of yearly bus routes and student ridership within the school district. She takes the extra time needed to be present on kindergarten assessment days to make sure that parents have all of the necessary information to register their children for needed busing services. Altom then takes this information to develop class lists of new students registered to ride the bus and makes color-coded wristbands for kindergarten students assigned to color-coded buses and their associated routes. All of this extra effort has been designed and implemented by Altom to ensure that the youngest students have a safe and enriched experience while being transported to and from home.

About the award
The California Classified School Employee of the Year Program highlights the efforts of classified employees who contribute to a positive school environment and have gone above and beyond what was expected of them.

A selection committee evaluates the applications using eligibility criteria and performance documentation in work performance, school and community involvement, leadership and commitment, local support from colleagues who speak to the nominee’s exemplary work, enhancement of classified school employees’ image in the community and the school, and any other areas the school deems exceptional and pertinent to the CSEY Award. Finalists are approved by the State Superintendent of Public Instruction or his designee.

Please visit the California Department of Education Classified School Employees of the Year web page for judging criteria and more information.