Two local educators or community members who make a significant difference in the community through their contributions toward the enhancement and improvement of education and the enrichment of the lives of children are selected by the Oakdale Teachers Association each year to receive the California Teachers Association School Bell award. They help instill in others the knowledge, judgment and values that shape society and enhance the lives of future generations.
This year, the OTA has chosen to honor Becky Simoncini and Jill Clayton. Simoncini is a Secretary II at Oakdale Junior High School and Clayton is an active parent volunteer. They will be recognized by the CTA Stanislaus Service Center for their educational contributions and will receive the School Bell Award at the 2011 School Bell Awards Dinner on May 6 in Denair.
“It is an honor, very much so,” Clayton said. “…You’re doing it to impact the lives of a lot of kids, a lot of programs, and to better the quality of education for everyone.”
Simoncini said she was “befuddled and honored” to receive the award, adding that she was very surprised.
Simoncini was nominated by OJHS eighth grade history teacher Cheryl Thompson.
“Becky is the pillar of our school – she is the ‘water cooler,’ meaning everyone hangs around her work station,” Thompson said. “She is very efficient, has a great sense of humor, she’s very friendly to all staff, students, parents. A perfect fit for OJHS.”
The following information is from Simoncini’s nomination.
“Becky Simoncini has been part of the office staff at Oakdale Jr. High for seven years, working as a secretary. Prior to moving to California, she worked as a teacher at Christ the King Catholic School, where she taught Science, Literature and Bible Study. She is a volunteer at Relay For Life, as well as the Oakdale Chocolate Festival. In addition, Mrs. Simoncini has served her local Association as a member of the CSEA Catastrophic Leave Committee and a Site Representative.”
Additionally, Simoncini was a substitute in the Oakdale school district for three years prior to joining the office staff at OJHS, where she deals with campus personnel, serves as registrar and more.
Simoncini said that working at the junior high is her favorite job.
“You have to enjoy what you do,” she said. “It’s a nice team (at the junior high). We’re a fun group. Everyone here is supportive and they work hard… It is a team effort in the office and on-site that makes my job wonderful.”
Simoncini and her husband Pete have been married 27 years. They have a daughter and a son, who are both Oakdale High School graduates and both serve in the armed forces. Their daughter and her husband are Army captains stationed in El Paso, Texas. Their son is a corporal in the Marines, currently stationed in Afghanistan.
OHS college counselor Denise Hitch nominated Clayton for the School Bell award. The following information is from Clayton’s nomination.
“Jill Clayton has been a parent volunteer at several schools throughout the district. While her children attended Fair Oaks, she served on the Site Council for seven years, was on the PTA Board for nine years, and was the Chairperson for the annual jog-a-thon for nine years. For two years, Mrs. Clayton also volunteered for the Jr. High by working at book fairs and the annual Jeans & Jerseys auction. Additionally, Mrs. Clayton has served as the Vice President and President of the Oakdale High School Academic Boosters and has been the volunteer Coordinator for the Drugstore Project for all of the elementary schools.”
Clayton has also been active in the American Cancer Society’s Relay For Life, the Oakdale Educational Foundation, and St. Mary’s Catholic Church. She and her husband Jim have two children, a daughter who is a junior and a son who is a freshman at OHS.
Hitch said that Clayton came into OHS “already running and ready to help in any area where she was needed” when her daughter was a freshman.
“I am thrilled that she chose to give a lot of her energy to the Academic Booster organization that supports Renaissance and our other academic competitive teams such as Aca Dec and Science Olympiad,” Hitch said. “Jill has taken our Academic Booster parent organization to a new level, bringing in the Save Mart Shares program and the Raley’s Quality card to boost funds to support our academic teams.”
Hitch added that Clayton is a visionary and has a plethora of resources in the community.
“Because of her zeal for Oakdale youth and for supporting their academic endeavors, other parents have come on board to team with Jill in her efforts to make Oakdale High School a great place for learning and teaching,” Hitch said.