Fresno County’s top educators for 2019 are welding teacher Greg Barragan, Sanger administrator Dennis Wiechmann and Parlier administrator Praxades Torres III. They were honored Thursday evening at the Educator of the Year Awards ceremony at the Saroyan Theatre in downtown Fresno.

The winners of School Employee and Teacher categories may apply for the California Department of Education awards in 2020.

Nancy Price

School Zone

  • Teacher of the Year: Barragan works at the Alice M. Worsley Court School and has been a teacher for 15 years. “Each day I ask myself, ‘How do I prepare my students to become career-ready adults with the skills they need to get and keep a job?’ When my students complete my class, earn their certification and are released from incarceration, they can have a job and a productive life. All they have to do is want it more than anything else!”
  • School Employee of the Year: Torres is director of child welfare and attendance at Parlier Unified School District and has worked in education for 15 years. “I build relationships with families so they may open up to the barriers that we can overcome together. I also help the students when a family is evicted and has no food or is in need of medical attention, which includes social and emotional support.”
  • Administrator of the Year: Wiechmann is supervisor of child welfare and attendance at Sanger Unified School District and has worked in education for 24 years. “The true power of an educational leader lies in one’s ability to inspire change in the colleagues we work alongside of, the students we interact with, the parents/guardians we support, and in the systems that exist in our schools. If a leader is true to his or her beliefs and their behavior is congruent with their actions, amazing things can happen.”

A student artist works on his holiday greeting card. (Photo provided by Fresno County Superintendent of Schools)

These Cards Are Special

For those of us who still send out holiday cards (and the dreaded letter) each year, there’s a new choice in town — and proceeds from sales will go to a good cause.

Students from the Fresno County Superintendent of Schools Special Education and Visual and Performing Arts departments participated this summer and fall in a first-ever arts enrichment project. They created a set of 15 greeting cards representing the four seasons.

The artists who painted the cards are students with moderate to severe intellectual disabilities at Beth Ramacher Educational Complex, Sutherland Center, and Monte Vista.

The card sets, which sell for $15, go on sale Monday, Dec. 2 at Our Kids Café, 2019 Mariposa Mall. Plus, you’ll find the cards for sale at a booth inside the Jewel-FM Art Gallery at ArtHop on Dec. 5.

Proceeds from the card sales will go toward arts enrichment curriculum for special education students.

Lex Luthor No Longer On Staff

Golden Valley Unified School District used to have a criminal mastermind on the staff list — but no more.

“Lex Luthor The Boss” was listed just above Superintendent Rodney Wallace on the email contact page for district staffers.

A recent check of the website shows that Luthor has departed from the rearranged page.

No word on whether a guy with a red cape and X-ray vision has been lurking around the Madera County school district.

Fresno Pacific’s President Wins Trailblazer Award

Joseph Jones

Fresno Pacific University President Joseph Jones walked into the eighth annual Trailblazers for Prosperity awards luncheon thinking he was the main speaker. Turns out, he was one of the award winners.

The awards were presented by the Southeast Fresno Community Economic Development Association, a nonprofit that aims to improve the quality of life in southeast Fresno by expanding educational, recreational, employment, and housing opportunities in the area.

“I always look forward to and enjoy chances to tell the story of Fresno Pacific University and the possibilities it offers people in our community,” Jones said. “This became an extra special day when I was honored to accept this award on behalf of the university.”

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