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Alisal Excellence Awards

Alisal Excellence Awards

Alisal Union School District principals, directors and top leadership gathered on Monday, June 7, 2021, to celebrate the end of a challenging school year. For the first time in recent history, the Alisal Excellence Awards was presented to top leaders who made a difference during the pandemic. The awards were presented by Superintendent Jim Koenig and Trustees Guadalupe Ruiz Gilpas and Leticia Garcia.

The Pandemic Response Award:  Dr. Christina Palmer,  Director, Multi-Tiered Systems of Support.

Dr. Palmer became the District’s expert on COVID. Her contribution vastly accelerated the achievement of herd immunity in Salinas by communicating with staff, parents and the community at large to facilitate getting COVID shots. Dr. Palmer’s contribution also includes serving as interim principal at Fremont Elementary for the first trimester of the school year.

The Gumby Award:  Belia Garcia,  Director, Human Resources

For her extraordinary flexibility in addressing the District’s personnel needs during the pandemic. She dealt with an increase in Workers’ Compensation claims as well as with a collaborative process with employees who requested to continue to work remotely.

The Personal Protective Equipment Award (the Masked Man Award):  Richard Gomez, Supervisor of Operations

For efficiently, effectively and swiftly distributing and installing all manner of personal protective equipment throughout the entire District.

CALPADS Rescue Wizard Award:  Dr. Esteban Hernandez,  Director of Research, Evaluation, and Enrollment

Dr. Hernandez stepped forward at a time of need for the District and identified a major shortcoming in District data collection. The issues he spotted risked potential losses of tens of millions of dollars due to errors that might have been included in a California Longitudinal Pupil Achievement Data System report.  At a time when key business personnel were unavailable to take on the task,   Dr. Hernandez quickly determined the most efficient process to process the data; then, through exceptional leadership, he motivated over twenty employees from fourteen different schools and departments to enter, or correct data.  The result was a flawless report and continued revenue to support education within the District.

The Splendid Table Award:  Tina Wallace,  Supervisor, Nutrition Services

Ms. Wallace was the face of the District’s food services operations for over a year as other leaders in the Nutrition Department were compelled to work remotely.  She conspicuously and courageously provided flawless planning, efficient organization and inspirational leadership to over one hundred hard-working employees who provided millions of meals for the hungry students of East Salinas.

The Road Warrior Award:  Phyllis Clark,  Supervisor of Transportation, Maintenance and Transportation Department. 

For support of the District’s mission to feed students in spite of the pandemic restrictions. Transportation employees augmented food distribution teams at the school sites, an action that was needed by the increase in volume required. In addition, Transportation employees delivered food to over 50 remote sites (homeless shelters, remote locations, day care facilities) to ensure our students were fed. One of the sites included in the delivery was the San Jerardo Cooperative, about five miles south of the city limits, where about 40 children live. 

The Tech Influencer Award:  Josh Harris, Director of Educational Technology

Remote instruction depends on making the technology efficient in conducting instruction.  Josh Harris made this happen in Alisal USD.  Immediately upon the closing of schools to in-person instruction, Mr. Harris began a remote professional development program that gave Alisal teachers the essential instructional tools to continue education on-line.  He continually improved Alisal’s on-line capabilities through an ongoing process of evaluation, planning and  implementation.

The Bandwidth Award:  Clemente Villarreal,  the “Connectivity King.”  Director of Technology Services.

The Technology Services Department was the sine qua non of Remote Instruction. Education during a time of COVID shutdown could only take place if devices assigned to teachers and students were connected to the District network. Mr. Villarreal procured and coordinated distribution of thousands of computers and hotspots for staff and students during this challenging time. Mr. Villarreal also went above and beyond as he extended the District network miles out of town to the remote, rural San Jerardo Cooperative. He installed an antenna on the District’s tallest building that connected point-to-point to San Jerardo’s community building; there he installed a wireless router to get students basic service. 

Co-Assistant Principal Award:  Veronica Medina,  César E. Chávez Elementary

Ms. Medina emerged as a true leader of instruction during the COVID Remote Phase and the Hybrid Phase of Instruction. She held the school community together in remarkable ways.

Co Assistant Principal Award:  Alberta Bustamante, Fremont Elementary 

When the school’s principal departed just before school started, Ms. Bustamante provided the continuity needed by teachers and students. Ms. Bustamante then served under an interim principal, Dr. Christina Palmer, and a new principal, Ms. Amin Oria, who arrived three months into the school year. Ms. Bustamante provided the strong, consistent leadership  Fremont Elementary School needed at a time of great transition. 

Principal of the Year:  Elizabeth Armenta, Alisal Community School

Ms. Armenta maintained focus on student learning in spite of COVID.  She consistently gathered data throughout the Remote Instruction Phase and used it to inform instruction at Alisal Community School.

Principal of the Year:  Roberto Rodriguez, Jesse G. Sanchez Elementary

At a time when COVID demanded isolation to prevent its spread, Mr. Rodriguez understood the need for the community to remain connected to the school  and he implemented programs aimed at achieving that goal. His was the first school in the District to implement monthly drive-through student achievement awards and a drive-through library to maintain student connection to their school.

For photos of the event, visit the Google photo gallery here