Two classified employees in the Oakdale Joint Unified School District make a difference for their fellow staff members and students, so much so that they were nominated for a special award.
Paula Rico, a resource instructional aide at Sierra View Elementary School, and Pam Panlilio, an account clerk at Oakdale High School, were recognized recently at a special reception honoring 26 outstanding classified (non-supervisory) education employees throughout Stanislaus County on Jan. 18 at the Petersen Event Center. OJUSD was entitled to submit two nominations based on district ADA.
The Stanislaus County Office of Education (SCOE) and the Association of California School Administrators (ACSA) Stanislaus Charter honored the outstanding classified staff in Stanislaus County through a program called “Employees Making a Difference.” Five of the 26 nominees were selected to represent Stanislaus County in the California School Employee of the Year program, coordinated by the California Department of Education. The names of these five individuals were announced at the reception but results were not available at press time.
Regardless of the county results, the two Oakdale nominees were happy that their fellow staff considered them for nomination.
“I was surprised… At first I was a little staggered, but I’m honored, really honored. There are so many classified employees,” Rico said.
Panlilio, too, acknowledged she was honored and surprised.
“…I think there are people out there who deserve it more,” Panlilio said. “It’s great. To me, it’s just doing my job.”
To the people who work with these two individuals, however, it’s the way they do their jobs that makes such a difference.
Rico was described in her nomination as “gracious” and having a “calm demeanor…even when confronted with the complex problems that can come with helping special needs students.” It also read that she is “well respected and liked by students,” and that “she focuses on the positive in every situation.”
Further, Rico’s nomination stated that she is “patient and nurturing, yet firm, with students…” and that she has a “tremendous work ethic…is a problem solver…has top-notch organizational skills…keeping copious student records in order.”
Rico has been in the district for 22 years, first at Fair Oaks Elementary School, then she transferred to Sierra View when it opened, where she has been since.
In her five short years at OHS, Panlilio has been labeled by her fellow staffers as being “irreplaceable,” according to her nomination form. The “countless ‘other things’ that Pam does, as well as her day-to-day demeanor,” along with fulfilling all the duties of her job, earned her the nomination. It stated that she has “organizational skills, attention to detail…thorough follow through” and that her “daily interactions with people make her stand out…”
Panlilio’s nomination further stated that she “always takes on the job with a smile” and that she “get(s) the job done…with a positive attitude.”
Stanislaus Charter ACSA President John Christiansen said that classified employees keep schools running smoothly, adding that they take care of all the support functions so teachers can concentrate on teaching and students can focus on learning.
The classified employees were nominated for the award from the following service areas: Child Nutrition; Maintenance/Operations; Office/Technical; Para Educators/Instructional Assistants; and Support Services/Security.