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Sonoma County school employee awards announced

DIANNE REBER HART , TOWNS CORRESPONDENT

Several school employees earned top honors this month from the Sonoma County Office of Education.

Isaac Raya was named Teacher of the Year, with Petaluma fifth-grade teacher Matthew De Lucia-Zeltzer as runner-up.

Raya is a U.S. history and digital media teacher at Kenilworth Junior High School, and is known for his innovative use of technology to enrich student learning.

De Lucia-Zeltzer works at McKinley Elementary School, where his Gifted and Talented Education class is comprised of nearly 40 percent socio-economically disadvantaged and/or second-language learners. He is known for providing creative and carefully crafted instruction to engage students in learning.

April Derby, Michele Echeverria, Peter Jaramillo and Azura Leon were Sonoma County finalists for the statewide Classified School Employee of the Year program, which is sponsored by the California Department of Education. Nominations are based on work performance, school community involvement and leadership and commitment. Non-teaching employees are nominated by their school districts.

“Classified employees are a vital part of the success of our education system,” said Tom Torlakson, state superintendent of public instruction. “They are instrumental in helping to build and strengthen an overall positive school climate and culture.”

Derby serves as the library assistant at Mary Collins School at Cherry Valley in Petaluma. She opens the library and assists students before and after school and during lunch. She has embraced technology and online research as a tool for students at all grade levels.

Echeverria, the kitchen manager at Adele Harrison Middle School in Sonoma, works to promote the district food manager’s vision of serving more organic, local foods in her daily breakfast and lunch specials. She leads her staff in providing nutritious menus popular with both staff and students.

Jaramillo is the night custodian at Meadow View Elementary School in Santa Rosa, where he is an integral part of the school community. He attends voluntary meetings, school activities, sporting events and field trips, always lending a hand.

Leon serves as office manager at Olivet Elementary Charter School in Santa Rosa. She is known for her welcoming manner and compassion dealing with students and families, particularly with attendance issues.