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At an awards ceremony on March 14, the El Dorado County School Boards Association (EDCSBA) recognized school board and community members for their contributions in 2021. The Superintendent of Schools of the County, Dr. Ed Manansala, moderated the presentations and said, “After two amazing years, it is a pleasure to be together again and to recognize and celebrate the work of all the leaders in the room tonight. Congratulations to all of our winners!”
The following prizes were awarded:
Board Leader – Pioneer Union School District – Jody Westfall: Jody is a very committed board member. She has been committed for years to doing what is best for the students, the district and the community. His involvement goes far beyond the boardroom; she attends school activities, visits classrooms, participates in fundraisers and has participated in distribution events for the victims of the Caldor fire.
Leader in Boardsmanship – Placerville Union School District – Chris Belmer: Served on the board for many years as well as chair for the past two years. She has a calm presence and handles stressful situations with grace.
Sense of State in Education – El Dorado High School Union School District – David Del Rio: During his tenure, David has demonstrated a clear commitment to the youth of the school community, staff and parents who entrust to the district to provide a 21st-century learning experience that prepares students to be college and career ready upon graduation.
Lifetime Achievement – Buckeye Union School District – Winston Pingrey: Winston has been a dedicated board member for 20 years. As a board member, Winston always emphasized the importance of parental involvement and he always took his fiduciary duties as a board member very seriously.
Achievement of a Lifetime – El Dorado High School Union School District – Kevin Brown: Kevin Brown’s primary focus is on student well-being and academic success. Through his leadership in policy development, Kevin has helped ensure that EDUHSD provides a quality 21st century learning experience for all students.
Lifetime Achievement – Rescue Union School District – Suzanna George: In her 22 years on the school board, she has led with a lens of reflection, inclusiveness and “students first”. His tireless dedication to finding the best for students is remarkable and truly appreciated.
Dolores Garcia Memorial Spirit of Boardsmanship Award – Rescue Union School District – Nancy Brownell: Nancy is an outstanding mother, community member, mentor, educator, assistant superintendent, and board member. She served as Chair of the Board of Trustees several times during her tenure and always put students first with a focus on equitable access to district programs and resources for all students.
Outstanding Corporate Organization – Black Oak Mine Unified School District – Black Oak Mountain Vineyard: In order to provide a sense of normality and elegance, Black Oak Mountain Vineyard opened its doors to seniors of Golden Sierra Junior-Senior High School to their ball. This event will be at no cost to the school district.
Outstanding Community Members – Camino Union School District, El Dorado County Office of Education – Dusty Bottings, Jesus Cordova, Krystal Owens: The Caldor Fire Caused Mass Evacuations in El Dorado County and closed many schools in the evacuation zone. These three people have teamed up to provide instruction and activities for affected children at the Placerville library.
Outstanding Community Members – El Dorado High School Union District – Lance Gunnersen: Lance Gunnersen knows he teaches his students skills they can use right out of high school and beyond. As a trades and industry instructor at El Dorado High School in Placerville, he teaches everything from woodworking technology to engineering and design in grades 9-12. He also devotes a good part of his time to defending careers and technical education.
Outstanding Corporate Organization – El Dorado High School Union District – Brian Veerkamp: Brian is extremely committed to schools in El Dorado County and facilitates construction/repair projects such as water main breaks and working with PG&E to launch EDUHSD’s Flip the Switch solar panels.
Outstanding Community Member – El Dorado High School Union District – Chief Joe Wren: The contribution of Chief Wren and his team to the local community helps ensure this is a safe place to live, work and visit . Every day, his Placerville Police Department team works diligently to serve the community with professionalism, integrity and fairness.
Outstanding Community Organization – El Dorado County Office of Education – Green Valley Community Church: The church has supported the community in many ways. This includes housing evacuees during the Caldor fire and partnering with EDCOE and Heal360 to open a free COVID-19 rapid testing site open to the public.
Outstanding Community Organization – Lake Tahoe Unified School District – Led by Boys and Girls Club of Lake Tahoe Executive Director Jude Wood, and through extremely generous donations from Lisa Maloff, Edgewood Companies, community members and organizations, boys and girls The club has finally achieved its dream of building a new facility, making life even better for the children of Lake Tahoe!
Outstanding Community Member – Pioneer Union School District – Janine D’Agostini: Many residents were evacuated during the Caldor fire. The D’Agostini family opened their ranch for individuals to camp. Janine worked tirelessly to help care for evacuees by cooking meals and collecting supplies.
Outstanding Community Member – Rescue Union School District – Gina Johnston: Ms. Johnston is exceptional in many ways, but it is her work with Project Green that is most impressive. In 2021, Gina officially founded Project Green with the sole mission “to engage young people in growing and maintaining community and school gardens by creating a safe outdoor environment that supports 21st century learning while fostering emotional and social development. “.
Attendees were also treated to engaging theater activities, led by community leader and children’s book author Erin Dealey. Student performers included Myra Pittman and Calen Romig of El Dorado High School. Floral arrangements, provided by Ponderosa FFA flower students, decorated the tables. It was truly a party night.