SACRAMENTO, Calif. — State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson named California's 2011 Classified School Employees of the Year last Friday, which included an employee in the category of transportation.
Bus driver Wilfin Morales, who works for for the Menlo Park City School District in Atherton, Calif., received the honor. Morales has been a bus driver for nine years, driving more than 250,000 miles without a single accident or ticket.
On a new route transporting kindergarten, first- and second-grade students, Morales has made a practice of greeting each child by name with a smile, and assisting with backpacks as they climb aboard. Once the students are at school, Morales walks the students hand-in-hand to class each morning.
"He has created his own 'Magic School Bus' for Encinal School," Principal Allison Liner said. "He goes the 'extra mile' to see that children are well taken care of. He is positive and professional and exemplifies the Menlo Park City School District's commitment to excellence on a daily basis. He is a truly treasured asset to our community."
His supervisor, Dennis Hatfield, noted that Morales is always ready to take on new tasks or projects and is kind, thoughtful and friendly to staff, parents and the community. "During my career as a supervisor, I have never had a more dedicated and positive employee. It is a pleasure to work with Wilfin Morales."
Seventy-three applicants from 20 counties competed for the 2011 Classified School Employees of the Year. Each of the six awardees underwent a county and state review process.
At the state level, applications were reviewed by a team of job category experts, including at least one member representing local educational agency administration, one member representing employee groups and one member provided by the California Department of Education, who reviewed the candidates on the basis of at least five years of service in their nomination category. The candidate evaluation was organized around four themes: work performance, school/community involvement, leadership and commitment, and service above and beyond.
On May 16 at a recognition luncheon, Torlakson will formally honor the award recipients representing child nutrition, maintenance and operations, office and technical support, para-educator and instructional assistance, support services and security, and transportation.
The luncheon coincides with California's observation of Classified School Employee Week, which will be held May 16 to 20.