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Combined, Coordinated Effort Serves Up Unique Meal
Special Meal
Oakdale student Olive Harrison, Mental Health Clinician Andrea Barnett and Inclusion Specialist Paige Jasso were the designated delivery team by the OJUSD Special Ed Team. The group recently prepared and coordinated a meal for those in need at the Youth Navigation Center of Stanislaus County in Modesto. Photo Contributed

Janelle Santos is happy with her career choice, as well as her decision to join the administration team of Oakdale Joint Unified School District.

She has been working since the start of the 2021-22 school year as the Special Education Program Specialist.

“I’ve been in Special Education for 23 years,” she shared, noting her previous experience with Ceres Schools. “I’ve been a Program Specialist previously.”

With a career which spans from a background in law enforcement, to social work and teaching, Santos shared she’s always been one to help people find better resources or figure things out.

“It’s always been something about me that has been attracted with people with difficult circumstance,” she said. “It’s just a part of who I am.”

Her career in education began in a Special Ed classroom, prior to taking on a role in administration.

“Just working with the kids is really great and rewarding itself. In the classroom I laughed every day, I just loved the kids,” Santos stated.

That passion for kids and commitment to helping others was demonstrated recently, as Santos and the OJUSD Special Ed team coordinated efforts and volunteered to take a meal to the Youth Navigation Center of Stanislaus County.

According to Santos, the inspiration to do so came after attending a monthly mental health meeting hosted at the facility. Throughout the meeting a need for volunteers was mentioned, as well as a need for groups or individuals to host meals.

Following the meeting a team member threw it out that maybe they should volunteer to bring dinner one night. The idea was to contribute something as a team with varying meal courses being provided by members of the team.

“It was really great,” Santos said of the experience. “We really feel it’s important to be a part of the community and to provide any type of support and outreach that you can. There are so many needs. It’s such a great group of people both professionally and personally and when there’s a need that’s seen, this group will rise up and answer the call.”

Santos shared being a part of the coordinated meal was just one of many reasons she loves Oakdale and is pleased with her decision to be a part of the team.

“I absolutely love Oakdale,” she said. “The staff here is incredible. I can truly say, they have tapped some of the best talent. Some of the most caring, compassionate, professional people that I’ve had the pleasure to work with. We’ve got some incredible people that work for this district.”