TAHOE/TRUCKEE, Calif. — At last week’s Tahoe Truckee Unified School District board meeting, a gentleman stepped up to the podium. He adjusted the microphone and began reading from a prepared statement.
“Students arrive at school safely, lights turn on when a switch is flipped, a nutritious lunch is served to hungry kids, computers transmit information across a school district, and warm air comes out of vents during winter days,” he said.
“These essential services occur because of the diligence and dedication of classified school employees. And they are things people would notice if they didn’t happen.” His voice became louder as his pride in his peers began to show.
“That’s the magic of classified employees. When they are on the job, they often go unnoticed. From behind the scenes they provide services vital to the every day operation of the schools. Without these employees, school districts across California would grind to a halt,” he finished.
The gentleman’s name is Bob Gunter. An electrician by trade, he is the TTUSD representative for the California School Employees Association (CSEA). Classified employees make up the bulk of TTUSD employees who are not certificated teachers. Once a month, as CSEA rep, he gives the board an update from his organization.
Two weeks ago in this space, we recognized teachers and the many contributions they make to our schools, our children’s education, and our community at large. Today, we recognize the classified employees.
Many of these individuals are visible: There are the bus drivers who greet the kids with a sunny “Good morning!” as the kids file onto the bus. There are the custodians we pass in the halls; the ones who maintain a safe and clean environment for students and staff. There are the librarians — those who know the reading levels, interests, and attention span of each individual student and recommend books accordingly. And the school secretaries who take all the phone calls and walk-in inquiries, acting as the “glue” that keeps the offices and classrooms together. There are the instructional assistants, the bilingual translators and interpreters, cafeteria supervisors; each leaving an imprint on the students’ day. But there are more: Those who support the teaching and learning efforts behind the scenes. The carpenters, painters, and equipment operators. The bus dispatchers. The registrar for the high schools. The vehicle service workers and the plumbing and heating specialists.
Gunter read off the full list of all classified employees to the trustees, “…not to bore you, but to make you aware of the many different services we provide to the staff and students of the district,” he said. And again, with pride, he listed 50 positions currently filled in TTUSD.
At this same board meeting, the board took action to approve and acknowledge Teacher Appreciation Week, which is this week, as well as Classified Employee Appreciation Week, which will take place May 21-25. Several years ago, the Tahoe Truckee Excellence in Education Foundation saw the need to honor these individuals and created the Star Awards specifically for classified employees. In conjunction with the annual Linda Brown Fellows Awards, which recognizes exceptional teachers, the Star Awards honor extraordinary classified employees who positively impact the lives of the students by providing outstanding support in their positions. The individuals are announced during a special recognition ceremony and each receives $1,000 cash for personal use.
The Star Award deadline was last week, and we are reviewing the many nominations we’ve received — all are heartfelt stories of truly remarkable individuals. We’ll announce these winners in the fall at the start of the school year. But in the meantime, won’t you join us May 21-25 to take a moment to thank and appreciate those who work tirelessly behind the scenes to provide a safe, effective, and fun educational experience for all of our kids?