Oakdale Joint Unified School District school bus mechanic and bus driver Richard Melo and Dina Page, lead custodian at Fair Oaks Elementary School, were recently named two of the six nominees who were chosen to represent Stanislaus County in the California School Employee of the Year program, coordinated by the California Department of Education.
OJUSD sent Melo and Page as its nominees for the “Employees Making a Difference” program, where the pair was honored as outstanding classified (non-supervisory) education employees, along with 20 other classified employees from throughout the county, at a Jan. 17 reception hosted by Stanislaus County Office of Education (SCOE) and Association of California School Administrators (ACSA) Stanislaus Charter.
“It is very telling that two of the county’s six representatives for the state competition are from OJUSD; our classified staff is top notch,” said Terri Taylor, OJUSD Assistant Superintendent for Human Resources, in a memo to district staff.
Melo’s nomination by his supervisor, OJUSD Director of Transportation Don Barkley, also included a letter from Mark Mutoza, president of Oakdale’s classified employees union. Page’s nomination by Fair Oaks Principal Stacey Aprile also included a letter from her supervisor, OJUSD Director of Maintenance and Operations Dan Casey.
Barkley described Melo as “dependable, efficient, and unfailingly punctual.” Barkley added that Melo gives attention to detail, and has a willingness to take on difficult projects and see them through to completion. Melo also resolves conflicts and other difficult situations with patience and tact, Barkley stated. He also stated that Melo’s skills don’t end with his mechanic work, but that as a bus driver he also has a warm, cheerful attitude toward students, staff and parents and always tries to lift the spirits of those around him.
Mutoza added that Melo takes pride in his work, is well-liked, and involved in the classified employees union.
“When Dina Page proclaimed in her interview for lead custodian that her main purpose was to ensure the safety and health of students while keeping the school running effectively, she meant it,” said Principal Aprile in her nomination.
Aprile added that Page “cheerfully, quickly, and warmly” takes care of many requests, and also demonstrates initiative in handling safety and functional issues for staff and students. Page also is conscientious, has a positive attitude, is widely respected, and dedicated, Aprile stated. Page’s strengths include clear communication and a professional demeanor, especially in times of conflict or stress. As well, Page makes special efforts to help teachers or students and is a good role model, Aprile added.
Casey noted that Page is friendly, hardworking, willing to try new ideas, and looks for ways to improve the school. She has “extremely high standards,” Casey stated, and that her frank communication is appreciated. He added that she’s also considered a leader and a friend.