April 19, 2018
2018 Employees of the Year
Please join us in congratulating the 2018 Washington Unified School District (WUSD) Employees of the Year. These six outstanding individuals have gone above and beyond in their roles for the district and are being recognized for their exceptional efforts that contribute hugely to school operations and the success of all students.

Each of the honorees underwent a district-wide review process. Nomination forms were made available to and accepted from colleagues, supervisors and the community at-large. WUSD staff reviewed nomination paperwork and semi-finalists were selected. Semi-finalists were involved in an interview process and the finalists were chosen. The following criteria were considered at each step of the process: work performance as described on the nomination form, school/community involvement, leadership and commitment, and service above and beyond.

The honorees will be formally recognized at the WUSD Annual Employee Recognition Awards Dinner on May 15, 2018 held at River City High School and hosted by the Human Resources Department, and at the WUSD Employee Appreciation Night at Raley Field on May 25, 2018.
Elementary Teacher of the Year
Sarah Jackson - Ms. Jackson provides strong academic instruction to her kindergarten students, grounded in the state standards and focused on rigor and relevancy. She has also served as a member of the WUSD DREAM Team, working countless hours with district colleagues to create curriculum for our students that is more rigorous than state-adopted textbooks and incorporates 21 st century skills. She is an exemplary team member who extends herself beyond her classroom to provide team, site, and district-level leadership in a variety of capacities. One can always count on Ms. Jackson to be a supportive and innovative educator to her colleagues and for our students. 
Secondary Teacher of the Year
Pamela Akhahon - Ms. Akhahon teaches 8th grade History at Stonegate K-8 Elementary School. She goes above and beyond and creates a classroom atmosphere where students love to learn about US History. She has taken her classes to go see Civil War re-enactments so they could get a feel for how I was "back then". She is present at almost every Stonegate athletic event, often leading the cheering. She celebrates the victories, and feels the pain of defeat.

She has made the Leadership Program at Stonegate a voluntary Program, and students meet on Friday afternoons, after school. Students have put together several "news casts" to tell 6-8 grade students what is going on in the world and on campus. Students give up their time (as does Ms. Akhahon) to be a part of something fantastic. Students trust her and they often bring the most difficult issues of their teenage years to her for advice. Ms. Akhahon has made an impact on the lives of so many students over the years, and when they leave Stonegate and move on to the high school, when they return to visit, she is the first one they stop to see. 
Classified Employees of the Year
Paula Tapia - Paula is dedicated to the nutritional needs of all students. She works hard to make sure students make educated healthy choices in the school breakfast and lunch lines. She regularly surveys students to see what options they would like to see with regard to new foods being offered. Paula encourages the use of the school garden in daily curriculum classes. This helps students connect how their food is grown and encourages consumption. Paula works with students to grow produce that is used in the school lunch program; and we use her school garden as a model for our "Growing School Lunch Garden". She has introduced students to a variety of fresh foods from the garden, i.e. Kale chips, Fava beans, as well as different types of Romaine Lettuces. She takes great pride in educating youth on healthy fresh options.

In addition to her full time position, Paula also volunteers and offers a garden club at Westmore Oaks. Paula helps students learn about how food grows. Paula encourages staff to continue to grow and learn about new areas of the food service operation. She actively mentors and shares her knowledge with both her colleagues as well as support staff who aspire to be the next Cook Manager. We are so excited for Paula to be recognized and receive this award. 
Estella Delatorre - Estella is an educator who sets high expectations for herself. She exemplifies the qualities of a great educator. She is reliable, responsible, and a good communicator. She raises the level of expectations of all those around her with her work ethic and dedication. Her ethics, attention to detail, and determination were instrumental in helping propel River City High School ahead. She is a very hard working, compassionate, caring, kind person. She goes above and beyond and is always willing to do whatever is necessary in order to assist students, staff, parents, and community members. She handles multiple tasks at one time. She is warm and welcoming and greets everyone with a smile. She is a team player. Students, staff, administration, and community members admire and trust her and the work she does.

Estella has been instrumental with connecting our students and families with reliable and needed resources. She is very dedicated and committed to the students, families and staff of RCHS and West Sacramento. She is the MECHA Advisor. She mentors and tutors RCHS students. She has been the school liaison to several programs that connect RCHS students to the West Sacramento Community. She puts on and runs several events for the RCHS students and their families.

As stated above, Estella exemplifies the qualities of a great educator and we are proud that she is the recipient of this award!
Volunteer of the Year
Katherine Gonzales - Ms. Gonzales is a dedicated grandparent raising her three grandchildren who attend Westfield Village Elementary School all while serving as the school’s PTO president. She represents Westfield Village families and staff at a variety of districtwide meetings and committees such as Parent Advisory Committee, DELAC, and Coffee with the Superintendent.

Ms. Gonzales reinvigorated involvement for the Westfield Village PTO bringing about a variety of meaningful family-oriented activities. Her presence on campus is always felt and her commitment to representing the school districtwide brings a strong voice and perspective to the entire Westfield Village community. Her passion never stops as she also plays a critical role in connecting families with resources in the community when she knows a family is in need of assistance. 

To many students she is known as “Grandma Katherine” because they feel safe and comforted by her warm and caring approach to every child she encounters. Her impact on the school and the larger community goes unparalleled.

Katherine is a true example of what a volunteer can do to help organize and collaborate with parents to come to together and create a stronger school community to support student achievement.  
Support Staff of the Year
Sherri Marston - Ms. Marston is truly a one of a kind individual. She has been part of the WUSD family for many years serving as a districtwide health clerk. Her cheerful personality allows her to build a connection with colleagues and her passion for her job goes unmatched in the level of service she provides to students.

Sherri works tirelessly throughout the year ensuring all students are up to date with their vaccines. She drafts letters, makes personal calls, and helps families to overcome barriers when searching for health resources. Her expertise goes a long way to assist all our nurses by keeping them up to date with vital student records, status, and due dates

Ms. Marston is always ready to drop what she is doing to help someone in need, whether it’s a secretary who has questions about immunizations when enrolling students, a parent seeking additional clarity, or a nurse or health aide requiring health supplies to keep our children healthy and safe.
Congratulations to all our 2018 nominees!
  • Nakona Felix
  • Heather Morrow Slutts
  • Emily Hunn
  • Ashley Gray
  • Coleen Scott
  • Claudia Santos
  • Edmund Lynch
  • Sherri Marston
  • Angie Nichols
  • Elizabeth (Eli) Leon
  • Estella Delatorre
  • Brendan Liston
  • Char Ghio
  • Deborah Rodriguez
  • Sae Phan
  • Deanna Wasserman
  • Michele Dargen
  • Regina Bozeman
  • Kimberly Raybould
  • Pamela Akhahon
  • Monica Valadez
  • Patty Arauza
  • Deanna Chrisman
  • Gabriela Camargo
  • Katherine Gonzales
  • Paula Tapia
  • Sarah Jackson
  • Jared Willis
  • Brittany Hori
  • Veronica Cabezas
  • Noe Guerra
  • Jared Coughlan