Winters JUSD staff accept Excellence in Education awards

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Winters Joint Unified School District staff Rachael Calvert, Elizabeth Carabez, Monica Moreno, Roxanne Delfino and Chris Novello were honored with Excellence in Education awards for their dedication and efforts in Winters schools. (Courtesy photo)

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The names of Winters Joint Unified School District officials are stamped on several Yolo County School Boards Association (YCSBA) annual Excellence in Education Awards this year.

Anthony Volkar, Yolo County Office of Education Public Information Officer, said the region is fortunate to have an abundance of dedicated teachers and classified staff in our schools across the county.

“This year’s Excellence in Education recognizes 60 individuals across five school districts, the Yolo County Office of Education, and two community college districts,” Volkar said. “During this annual event, it is an opportunity to showcase school leaders who make our education system in Yolo County run.”

Acting Superintendent Phoebe Girimonte said while these past several years have brought many challenges, the Winters JUSD staff has risen to meet them in serving students and families.

“As we enter the fourth school year impacted by the pandemic, recognizing the accomplishments of these educators feels like an acknowledgment of the larger team that works alongside them,” Girimonte said. “It is significant to celebrate how these individuals have demonstrated their commitment to student achievement and well-being and reframed adversity as opportunity.”

Monica Moreno (Courtesy photo)

Nomination does not come easy. Teachers must have at least eight years in the classroom and demonstrate leadership and innovation in and outside of the classroom. Shirley Rominger Intermediate School Principal Monica Moreno received an award for being an exceptional school administrator.

“Under her leadership these past four years, the Shirley Rominger Intermediate School team has implemented a school-wide focus on differentiated instruction with an emphasis in Mathematics,” Girimonte said, adding the principal also implemented an updated instructional schedule including tailored small group instruction. “These efforts have paid off in high levels of student growth and achievement.”

The effort comes easy, according to Moreno, who taught for ten years before pursuing administrative credentials to have an impact on a larger scale. Sixteen years later, Moreno said she enjoys creating systems of excellence in education.

“I decided to go into teaching to make a difference in a child’s life,” Moreno said, adding her win motivates her to continue to build pathways of success for Winters JUSD scholars. The principal said working in a small district offers many leadership opportunities, and the Winters JUSD district has supported her work.

“I want to thank all of the staff at Shirley Rominger Intermediate School,” Moreno said. “They are dedicated and committed and work as a team to reach our goals.”

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Chris Novello (Courtesy photo)

The Program Award went to Winters High School Culinary Arts Instructor Chris Novello.

A program that started as a “Food Science” Regional Occupation Program evolved into a full-fledged Culinary and Hospitality Arts experience for scholars 25 years later, thanks to its new state-of-the-art kitchen facility within the Career Technical Education (CTE) building. Under Novello’s lead, the popular program annually enrolls 90-100 scholars, offering three introductory culinary arts courses and one advanced class.

Like Moreno, Novello’s love of teaching had him as early as the sixth grade when he was a reading mentor for younger students “and found the experience of helping others very satisfying.” After college, Novello was hired as an English teacher at WHS 30 years ago, when he pursued supplementary authorization to teach classes in the Hospitality Food-Services CTE pathway.

“There have been literally thousands of Culinary Students who have come through this program in 27 years, with only a small number who have had the privilege of learning in our state-of-the-art professional kitchen,” Novello said. “Aside from these students, we have enjoyed tremendous support from so many local businesses, farmers, parents and patronage from local organizations that I know that if I name a few, I am going to miss recognizing many, many others.”

There are a few people Novello can name.

“A big thanks and support goes out to my family, including my wife and two high school-age children,” Novello said. “Trying to keep this facility in tip-top shape, shopping for ingredients, prepping for and providing food for various catering events is pretty time-consuming — but this job is my passion, and they support me in my pursuits.”

Salute to Educators Excellence Certificate Awardees were given to Elizabeth Carabez, a Rominger teacher; Rachael Calvert, WHS education specialist and teacher; and Roxanne Delfino, a school district nurse.

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Carrie Green, Winters Joint Unified School District Board President, and Yvette Seibert, executive assistant, Yolo County Office of Education, and Excellence in Education lead coordinator. Green served as the event emcee. (Courtesy photo)

“Winters JUSD is grateful to the Yolo County School Boards Association for continuing to highlight educational programs and leaders across our region,” Girimonte said.

Volkar said the Sept. 26 event streamed live on Facebook and Zoom at the Yolo County Office of Education was to celebrate teachers and classified staff.

“This year, we will be recognizing paraeducators, maintenance workers, technology coordinators, and school psychologists, to name a few positions,” Volkar said. “There is countless school staff that often go unnoticed but truly make sure our schools are successful places for our students.”

Carrie Green, Winters Joint Unified School Board President and Immediate Past President of the YCSBA, served as emcee for the awards ceremony as the current YCSBA president was unavailable on Monday evening.

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