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Longevity Marks Careers of Fresno County’s Educators of the Year



Richard Delgado, Sherri Johnson, and Alma McKenry are the 2021 Fresno County Educators of the Year. (GV Wire/Randy Reed)
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The three Fresno County educators chosen as the 2021 Educators of the Year — teacher, school employee, and administrator — have more than 88 years of work in education combined.

Check out my other School Zone columns at Nancy Price’s School Zone Facebook page.

The honorees are Sherri Johnson, a K/1 combination teacher at Clovis Unified’s Cole Elementary School; Richard Delgado, a student relations liaison at Clovis West High School; and Alma McKenry, senior director of health services for the Office of the Fresno County Superintendent of Schools.

The trio were to be honored Sunday in a 6:30 p.m. broadcast on ABC30. Johnson and Delgado can apply for the California Department of Education awards in 2022.

Johnson, a teacher for 34 years, says of her position: “All students are successful in learning when the instruction is differentiated to challenge each one at their own level. Students perform better when they feel cared about by their teacher and they are empowered when they can do things independently by themselves.”

Delgado, who has worked in education for more than three decades, said this of his job: “Students need someone on campus to listen to them, be shown the care and respect they deserve, and hold them accountable for providing structure. I try to treat all of my students as they were my own.”

McKenry, who has worked in education for 24 years, said this of her position: “The nurses are key players in the development of educational programs by making sure students’ medical needs are addressed so that the students stay safe and medically stable as they access their education programming.”

Also in School Zone: 

  • A longtime Fresno businesswoman plans to run for the Fresno High trustee seat.
  • Creative writers who also happen to be California educators are eligible for new fellowships.
  • Is the wait for a new State Center chancellor about to end?

The Educator of the Year application process begins in March with completed nomination packets from school districts, with one candidate for each category. A committee reads and ranks the packets, and a final selection committee narrows the field to three finalists in each category. The winners are chosen by closed ballot.

Another Candidate for Trustee Seat

Kathy Bray

The filing period for candidates seeking election to the vacant Fresno High Area trustee seat won’t open until Dec. 20, but already four people have filed campaign finance paperwork signaling that they plan to run.

The winner of the April 12 special election will complete the remainder of the four-year term that longtime Trustee Carol Mills won in November 2020, eight months before she lost her battle with Lou Gehrig’s disease.

The latest to throw her hat in the ring is Kathy Bray, president of Denham Resources. Bray, who recently resigned as chair of Fresno Planning Commission and has served in other civic capacities, said she’s seeking the seat because she sees too many job applicants who lack sufficient educational preparation to be hired or retain jobs.

Bray said she was inspired by a number of factors to run, including a mention in the Public Schools Review that Fresno County has one of the highest concentrations of top-ranked schools in the nation.

“We know how to do what needs to be done,” she said.

The other candidates are former City Councilman Blong Xiong, whose campaign finance paperwork still shows him running in 2024 — he says he plans to run in 2022 — community activist and part-time university faculty member Dr. Andy Levine, and retired teacher Russell Allen.

Creative Writing Fellowships Offered

California high school educators can get a boost to their creative writing careers through the Jack Hazard Fellowships for Creative Writers Teaching High School program that’s hosted by the Oakland-based New Literary Project.

NLP will award nine $5,000 fellowships, but to qualify you need to meet the following criteria:

  • Jack Hazard Fellows must be writers of fiction, creative nonfiction, or memoir.
  • They must be full-time, current instructors (in any department, not just English) in an accredited California high school (grades 9-12, teaching in the 2021-22 academic year).
  • Applicants must submit a writing sample along with other related support material requested.

The deadline to apply is Dec. 31. For more information or to apply, click here.

State Center Chancellor Pick on Tap?

State Center Community College District Board of Trustees has scheduled a special board meeting on Monday, Nov. 29, and could be announcing the name of the district’s new chancellor.

The meeting agenda says the board will go into closed session to discuss several agenda items, including “Public Employee Employment/Appointment — Chancellor.” At the conclusion of the closed session, the board will return to open session to report any action taken in closed session.

The three candidates are Fresno City College President Dr. Carole Goldsmith; Dr. Omid Pourzanjami, former superintendent/president of San Joaquin Delta College in Stockton; and Dr. Beatriz Espinoza, who is working at Laredo Community College in Texas as a consultant and previously served as president of Coastal Bend College in Texas.

The meeting, which is being held virtually on Zoom and will be aired on the district’s YouTube channel, is scheduled to begin at 11:30 a.m.

The board is seeking a replacement for former Chancellor Paul Parnell, who retired in July. Interim Chancellor Douglas Houston has been the district’s top administrator while the district seeks Parnell’s permanent replacement.

Nancy Price is a multimedia journalist for GV Wire. A longtime reporter and editor who has worked for newspapers in California, Florida, Alaska, Illinois and Kansas, Nancy joined GV Wire in July 2019. She previously worked as an assistant metro editor for 13 years at The Fresno Bee. Nancy earned her bachelor's and master's degrees in journalism at Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism. Her hobbies include singing with the Fresno Master Chorale and volunteering with Fresno Filmworks. You can reach Nancy at 559-492-4087 or Send an Email