April 20, 2018
Yolo County Excellence in Education Honorees
Each year the Yolo County School Boards Association recognizes dozens of educators and public education professionals as well as cutting-edge local programs at its Excellence in Education Awards Ceremony. 

The annual event, being held this year on April 30th, is an opportunity to bring together individuals from throughout Yolo County who continually go above and beyond to make a lasting impact in the lives of students and their school community. 

Each district in Yolo County submits its nominees to the Yolo County Office of Education which then reviews all the paperwork prior to determining the list of finalists. The criteria considerations for all nominees cover a variety of areas including, work performance as described on the nomination form, school/community involvement, leadership and commitment, and service above and beyond.

Please join us in congratulating this year’s honorees representing the Washington Unified School District.
Salute to Educators Awards
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. 
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. 
Noe Guerra - Mr. Guerra is a Counselor for Yolo Alternative Education Center, and also assists with counseling services for the Adult Education Center. He goes above and beyond. He treats everyone with respect and compassion. He doesn't hesitate to help, and extends himself beyond his job description as School Counselor to provide team, site and district-level leadership in a variety of capacities. He has earned the trust of students and they often go to him for advice. He is a calm, caring man, who has the respect of the staff, administration, students and families in Washington Unified.
Classified School 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!
Individual Excellence Award
Crista Koch - Crista’s knowledge of curriculum, instructional strategies and pedagogy and the needs of a diverse group of both students and teachers are at the heart of who she is. She possesses a deep knowledge of the unique needs of English Learners and works tirelessly to support students, staff and the community to close the achievement gap for this underserved group of students. She possess a deep understanding of how data can be used to not only inform but improve teaching and learning.

Crista exhibits a moral integrity that shines through every student and parent she has interactions. She consistently reflects on her own practice, collaborating with colleagues to get a deeper understanding of school leadership. Crista is not only present and engaged at District Professional Learning but often leads District Professional Learning with some of the highest evaluations from staff. Crista is a dedicated professional with high levels of instructional knowledge, work ethic and integrity. She is a woman of character who listens deeply to staff and constituents alike to understand their concerns and ideas in order to better serve students from a wide variety of backgrounds. She truly is an excellent educational leader and very deserving of this award.
Program Excellence Award
DREAM Team - The Washington Unified School District (WUSD) is proud to announce the formation of the WUSD DREAM Team (Developing Resources for Engagement and taking Action to Make a difference). This team of change makers consists of educators and administrators charged with the purpose of leading our district into the next phase of our evolution becoming a true gateway to extraordinary possibilities for all students. 

Our district is committed to increasing student achievement through rigorous instruction that is based on the adopted Common Core State Standards (CCSS). A deeper understanding of the CCSS, and the student actions and outcomes associated with them, will help to align the instructional focus and identity of our district across grade levels and subject areas, creating a strong foundation upon which to build a comprehensive Multi-tiered System of Supports. The DREAM Team will lead this critical work.