2024 Classified Employees of the Year

CSEY 2024
June 11, 2024
'Woven into the Daily Fabric of Public Education'

At the close of this year’s Classified School Employee Week in May, five CSEA members gathered with friends, family, colleagues and dignitaries at a ceremony overlooking the historic Tower Bridge and the Sacramento City Skyline to receive the highest honor awarded by the state to classified employees – Classified School Employee of the Year. The CSEA members honored at the ceremony by State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond were: Jason Cheeseman, Joshua Crotts, Isaiah Joiner, Aries Lewis and Sara Sanchez.

Awardees are chosen for their essential efforts in one of nine 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. Winners were chosen out of 134 nominations from across the state. 

“They represent our pride in knowing our efforts help our colleagues do their jobs, and help our students explore their world,” Association President Adam Weinberger said. “They represent the dignity of hard work done in service of our communities. And they represent the promise of public education, which is to give every student the opportunity and skills they need to succeed.” 

“The honorees here with us today embody what it means to be a classified school employee.” 

Jason Cheeseman

Custodial and Maintenance Services 
Jason Cheeseman, Utility Person II
North Elementary School, Tracy Unified School District (10 years of service) 

Jason Cheeseman, a member of Tracy Chapter 98, values always giving beyond his best effort. Jason has worked in many classified roles, including irrigation work, food service, custodial, security, school bus driver, and now as a utility person at North Elementary, which is his favorite role to date. The North Elementary team knows Jason as a leader in their community who is down-to-earth and approachable. Students love him for his fun attitude and his great high-fives.  Jason says the students are one of the favorite parts of his job, and he is often seen helping students sort their food in the cafeteria. Jason explained that “because I have been with the district for 12 years now and I have seen the kids graduate high school and seeing them when in 4th or 5th grade and they are driving a car now…it's rewarding." 

Jason is indispensable, committed to student safety and always making sure students and staff have the necessary supplies and support. 

Joshua Crotts

Transportation Services 
Joshua Crotts, Instructional Materials Coordinator 
Twin Rivers Unified School District (13 years of service) 

Joshua Crotts, a member of Twin Rivers Unified Chapter 1717, is an Instructional Materials Coordinator. Having attended elementary, middle and high school through Twin Rivers Unified, Joshua feels grateful and sentimental about being honored and able to serve his community. While most typically think of transportation services as school bus drivers, Joshua transports the instructional materials for all the students, helping to build up a department over his 13 years of service. The systems he has created allow thousands of materials to be delivered smoothly, something Joshua is proud of today. Joshua is described as an avid learner, problem solver, and dependable for support. 

“I am proud of all our accomplishments,” Joshua says. “I am grateful for all the teams and being able to serve the students, to the community, making a difference, everything we do really for the students, that's what matters.” 

Isaiah Joiner

Security Services 
Isaiah Joiner, School Security 
Mesa View Middle School, Yucaipa-Calimesa Joint Unified School District (10 years of service)

Isaiah Joiner, a member of Yucaipa-Calimesa Chapter 209, says he does what he does every day because “I love it!”, and is described by his coworkers as having a big smile for all his students, and as someone who goes above and beyond as a dedicated school security member. 

Invested in all aspects of the school community beyond safety, Isaiah enjoys interacting with the students by giving advice, coaching athletic events and promoting a positive experience for everyone. His colleagues laud him as an exemplary member of their team, creating a safe and supportive environment for students in our often-uncertain world. 

“I just enjoy being at the school and being there to help out,” Isaiah said. “Anything I can do to help a teacher, help a student, it feels good.” He is thankful for his coworkers, noting that he doesn’t work alone and represents a whole team of support at the school and district. 

Aries Lewis

Clerical and Administrative Services 
Aries Lewis, Community Liaison 
Green Valley and Oak View High Schools, Yucaipa-Calimesa Joint Unified School District (5 years of service) 

Aries Lewis, a Yucaipa-Calimesa Chapter 209 member, is known for her ability to make positive connections with students, families and the community. Aries says the impact she has on students is the foremost reason she loves being a classified employee. 

Whether it be connecting students to community resources including a Clothing Closet, toiletries, and gas cards, or participating in Trunk or Treat and Community Night Out, Aries is unwavering in her efforts to support her students. Aries aspires to be like the classified staff she remembers from her high school years. 

“When I was in school, I remember the way that the classified staff at school cared for us,” she said. “They were always kind and remembered our names, remembered what we liked. You know, now being a classified staff myself, it really makes me reflect on what I can do to connect with my students.” 

All these connections have allowed her to gain students’ trust and be a dedicated ally and advocate. 

Sarah Sanchez

Paraprofessional Services
Sara Sanchez, Paraeducator 
Green Hills Elementary School, Millbrae Elementary School District (10 years of service) 

Sara Sanchez, a Millbrae Chapter 561 member, believes in Green Hills Elementary’s mantra to be “kind, respect, and responsible.” 

She knows that she is crucial to teaching students this mantra. Sara teaches her students to “be kind, be patient. We’re all individuals that navigate the world at different paces and different levels, and we can make a difference.” 

Sara knows she makes a difference in changing her students’ attitudes and their success. As a paraeducator working with students re-integrating into general education, she is an advocate who fosters a positive and inclusive environment. Sara is an expert at making connections with students and families alike, taking pride in getting students the resources and tools they need to thrive. One of her favorite memories, and favorite parts of being a classified employee, is seeing her students start to feel comfortable and participate with the larger student body as they advance in high school. 

She says her role is fulfilling because of the support she provides students. 

“It is such an important job that we have and responsibility to be able to teach and be with these children on a day-to-day basis.” 

This article was written by CSEA Content Writer Maya Sabatino