District Announces 2015 Classified Employees of the Year

Today, IUSD announced its five Classified Employees of the Year – Jody Butte, Alex Cruz, Julie Hicks, Rose Magda and Gerry Ruiz.  Classified employees include the men and women who work hard every day to ensure the District runs efficiently to serve our students and their families.  They include secretaries, custodians, paraeducators, bus drivers, maintenance technicians, clerks, food services staff members and all the other non-certificated workers.  Most are represented by the California School Employees Association (CSEA).

Similar to previous years, a caravan of District employees and Board Members traveled to each winner’s site to surprise them in front of their colleagues and in some cases their school sites.  This year’s well-wishers included Board Members Lauren Brooks and Sharon Wallin, Superintendent Terry Walker, district staff, CSEA President Janelle Cranch and the five 2014 Classified Employee of the Year winners.

Alex Cruz

IMG_8525The day started at 8:20 a.m., with the first stop at the District’s Maintenance and Operations facility to award Alex Cruz, Maintenance VI Plumber, with Classified Employee of the Year.  Alex has been with IUSD for 17 years and received this award for his positive “get it done” attitude, strong work ethic and his commitment to the District.


For several months, Alex was the District’s only plumber, responsible for all 40 District sites.  Previously, Alex had shared this role with a colleague who retired last year.  During a months-long period, Alex took on the increased workload with the utmost professionalism.  He worked with maintenance staff to ensure each site was well-maintained and functioning.

“IUSD is a great environment to work in,” said Alex.  “I enjoy doing what it takes to get the job done but it’s also a team effort.  I work with great and dedicated people.”

Jody Butte

IMG_8538Jody Butte, Supervisor of Nutrition Services at Northwood High School, was the next stop at 9:15 a.m. Jody has been with IUSD for 20 years and received the Classified Employee of the Year award for her leadership and outstanding customer service to Northwood students.

IMG_8531Jody is known for caring for her students, nurturing staff and creating an environment of inclusion through her leadership.  Since she moved to Northwood High School during the 2012-13 school year, students who utilize the cafeteria for breakfast have quadrupled and students who purchase lunches have tripled. She goes out of her way to accommodate students’ requests for healthy snack and food items and talks with students daily to ensure she is meeting their needs.

“I love what I do,” said Jody.  “I love our students, IUSD and the people I work with.  This is so unexpected…I am honored.”

Rose Magda

IMG_8554The third stop was to Greentree Elementary where Rose Magda, Instructional Assistant Special Education, was awarded the Classified Employee of the Year in front of school staff and students at 10 a.m.  Rose has been with IUSD for four years and received the award for her compassion, unparalleled creative approach to serving students and for her extraordinary efforts to ensure every student is included.

IMG_8540Rose, known for her trademark phrase “Stop it!”, makes learning fun for students with profound disabilities.  In a typical day, she goes above and beyond to communicate to students that they are smart, kind, appreciated and most importantly, loved.  An example of her care is when she dressed up like a tree so she could help her student participate in the school play.  She dressed up so she would not be noticed while holding the student’s head up so the child could sing.

“Greentree students are so wonderful, they make me want to be better,” said Rose.  “I love the people I work with and feel honored.”  She concluded her remarks with, “Stop it!” and a smile.

Gerry Ruiz

IMG_8564Next up at 10:40 a.m. was Gerry Ruiz, PE Equipment Custodian at Irvine High School.  Gerry has been with IUSD for 14 years and received the Classified Employee of the Year award for his dedication, responsiveness and integrity.

IMG_8559Gerry is often proactive and demonstrates great leadership skills.  When one of Gerry’s colleague’s wife went into labor, he stepped up without hesitation to take on the workload so his colleague could be there for the birth.  The football team heavily relies on him during football season.  On Fridays, he will often work a 20-hour day.  A lot is requested of Gerry and he does it with a positive attitude and professionalism.

“I consider the people I work with to be family,” said Gerry.  “I like to help when I can and love working here with you all.”

Julie Hicks

IMG_8578The final stop at 11:25 a.m. was to College Park Elementary to award Julie Hicks, Media Tech I with Classified Employee of the Year in front of school staff and students.  Julie has been with IUSD for 10 years and received the award for her passion, creativity and dedication to helping develop students’ skills and love of reading.

IMG_8570Each week, Julie works with sixth-grade student council members to make video announcements on a variety of important school topics.  She helps the students write the scripts and edit the videos, which are shown during weekly library time.  She often works after school or on the weekends to ensure the production of the videos is perfect.  Many of Julie’s former students have taken these valuable skills and experience and pursued video production.

“The students inspire me each and every day,” said Julie.  “I love working here and with such wonderful people.  This is so surprising!”

Congratulations again to each winner, who will receive $1,000 courtesy of CSEA Chapter 517, as well as a jacket and commemorative plaque. They’ll also be honored at the June 2 IUSD Board meeting.

IUSD’s Janelle Cranch Named State Classified School Employee of the Year!

IUSD’s Janelle Cranch, Buyer Technician and President of California School Employees Association, Chapter 517, has been named by the Department of Education as a California Classified School Employee of the Year.  Janelle, who also received the county’s Classified Employee of the Year award earlier this year, is being recognized for her many contributions to our students, schools, and the entire Irvine community.  Janelle Cranch4191-4x5

This annual, state-wide award program recognizes six outstanding classified school employees, each representing one of the following categories: Child Nutrition; Maintenance, Operations, and Facilities; Office and Technical Support; Para-Educator and Instructional Assistance; Support Services and Security; and Transportation. This year’s recipients were chosen from more than 100 nominees.

For 26 years, Janelle has been a tenacious advocate, who is unwavering in her commitment to serving the students in our district and the people who work here.  Her commitment, compassion and work ethic have earned her a reputation as one of the most beloved and respected members of the school community.

She is an invaluable asset and resource in supporting the District’s vision and mission.  She advocates for classified personnel as well as the education of students and has occupied several leadership roles on prominent committees at the state and local levels.

In sighting her accomplishments, the State Superintendent of Public Instruction, Tom Torlakson noted, “Her conduct serves as a model of the core values of the Irvine Unified School District, which is one of the most high-performing districts in the nation.  During the state’s budget crisis, Mrs. Cranch’s leadership, calm communication style and comprehensive understanding of District finances greatly contributed to the continued and ongoing success of its instructional programs.”

Classified employees are a vital part of the success of our education system.  They help ensure students arrive to school on time, receive nutritious meals, and are able to learn in a clean, safe, and well-ordered environment. They are instrumental in helping to build and strengthen an overall positive school climate and culture.

Please join IUSD in congratulating Janelle on this prestigious award.


Reminder: School Funding Survey Closes Friday – Student Participation Encouraged

Thank you to those who have participated in IUSD’s school funding survey [Local Control and Accountability Plan (LCAP)].  If you have not taken the survey, please spend a few minutes to provide your feedback by the closing date, Friday, May 15.  survey2

IUSD is also seeking student input.  If you have a student who is able to take the survey, please encourage his/her participation.

California’s new funding model for K-12 education, requires every school district and county office of education to develop, adopt and annually update a three-year LCAP with input from parents, students and other key stakeholders.

As part of this comprehensive process, IUSD has launched the second of two school funding surveys.  This second survey will be used to further help identify District goals and budget priorities.  See below to review the proposed actions, which are inclusive of key stakeholder feedback from the first survey earlier this year.

Take the survey now by clicking here. 

Click here to view the proposed amendments to the 2015-16 LCAP.

This brief survey is an important part of the LCAP process. Please take the time to share your thoughts.

IUSD Student Jazz Ensembles to Perform May 9

Irvine Unified School District and the City of Irvine will host a collaboration of student jazz ensembles at the Orange County Great Park Palm Court Arts Complex on Saturday, May 9, from 11 a.m.-3 p.m.  Jazz at the Palm Court (2)

11 a.m.  – Plaza Vista Middle School

11:30 a.m.  – South Lake Middle School

12 p.m. – Sierra Vista Middle School

12:30 p.m. – Venado Middle School

1 p.m. – Woodbridge High School

1:30 p.m. – University High School

2 p.m.  – Irvine High School

2:30 p.m. – Northwood High School

Special guest artists will perform with the student musicians. Bring folding chairs and picnic blankets.  Don’t miss this one-of-a-kind music experience!

Admission and parking are free. The Orange County Great Park is located off the 5 or 405 freeway at Sand Canyon and Marine Way in Irvine. For more information, visit ocgp.org or call 949-724-OCGP (6247).

Northwood Teacher is Quarter Finalist for Prestigious Music Award

Congratulations to Ben Case, music teacher at Northwood High School, for his designation as a quarter finalist for the Music Educator Award presented by The Recording Academy and the GRAMMY Foundation.  Ben was selected out of 4,500 nominations from all 50 states.  His nomination and the recent gold award presented to Northwood High School as a Grammy Signature School is a testament to Northwood’s outstanding music program and Ben’s skill and dedication as a teacher. Ben Case and Students

The Music Educator Award was established to recognize current educators (K through college, public and private schools) who have made a significant and lasting contribution to the field of music education and who demonstrate a commitment to the broader cause of maintaining music education in the schools. A joint partnership and presentation of The Recording Academy and the GRAMMY Foundation, this special award will be presented at the Special Merit Awards Ceremony & Nominees Reception.

In December, one recipient will be selected from 10 finalists, and will be recognized for his/her remarkable impact on students’ lives. The winner will be flown to the host city of the GRAMMY Awards to accept the award, attend the GRAMMY Awards ceremony and receive a $10,000 honorarium. The nine other finalists will each receive a $1,000 honorarium, and the schools of all 10 finalists will receive matching grants.

Irvine and Japanese Students Conclude E-Pal Program

This school year, 35 Venado Middle School students participated in the Irvine -Tsukuba Sister City Student E-Pal Project, an electronic pen-pal project with middle school students in Japan.  Over the course of the program, participating students in Irvine and Tsukuba, Japan were able to connect face-to-face through video conferencing and through emails to share information about their interests and backgrounds.  Topics included information about each country, school, culture and lifestyle.
Epal 3

“This exchange provided an opportunity to expand cultural understanding while creating lasting friendships between Irvine and Tsukuba middle school students,” said Keith Tuominen, IUSD Director of Secondary Education.

The 8th grade GATE students who took part in the program were eager and excited to get to know kids from another country.  “For Venado students, it was very enriching and for the Tsukuba students, it gave them a chance to practice English,” said Teacher Julie Campbell.  “Hopefully, some of these connections will be long-lasting.”

This culturally enriching program was part of the City of Irvine’s Sister City Program.  For more information about the E-Pal Project or the Sister City Program, visit cityofirvine.org.


Summer School Opportunities – Registration Ends Soon

There are three summer program opportunities available directly to IUSD students.  Registration deadlines are fast approaching.  One might be a good fit for you or your student.

IUSD Summer School – Students at the middle and high school levels can access courses to help remediate or enhance the academic experience.  Please visit iusd.org for additional information.  Enrollment closes on Wednesday, May 6th.  Instagram-logo

IPSF Summer Enrichment Academies – Opportunities exist for all ages, elementary through high school, to enrich their educational experience.  Please visit ipsfacademy.org  for more information.

IVC/IUSD Summer College Program – Courses offered at Irvine Valley College are available for IUSD students in current grades 9-11.  Some courses still have space available.  More information can be found at http://admissions.ivc.edu/IUSD/Pages/default.aspx.

8th Annual ACE Day!

Check out the IUSD video of ACE Day (Appreciating Classified Employees) http://bit.ly/1GApVAx.  Members of our District team recently shadowed classified employees to learn more about their jobs and responsibilities.  Participants joined a group luncheon after the event to share what they did and learned. ACE Day 1

This program reinforces what IUSD knows and believes, which is that a school district requires the efforts of everyone – classified staff, community members, teachers and administrators to be successful. A healthy school district is built on teamwork! ACE recognizes and encourages this collaborative concept.

Superintendent Terry Walker worked with our Grounds team to help install drought resistant landscaping at the District Office!

New South Lake Middle School Principal Selected

We are pleased to announce that Belinda Averill has been named Principal for South Lake Middle School.  After an extensive recruitment process, which included staff and community input, Belinda was selected, from a talented candidate pool, as the best fit for South Lake.  She is a recognized leader in IUSD and is familiar with learning programs at South Lake and the transitions that students there make to high school in our district. Her start date is July 1, 2015.

Belinda will transition from her current role as Assistant Principal at Woodbridge High School, where she has served with a collaborative team of teachers and staff.  Belinda is highly student centered, responsive to the diverse needs of her stakeholder groups, and has extensive knowledge in the development of curriculum and instruction that meet the learning needs of all students. She has been with IUSD since 2010 and has served in a variety of roles as a special education teacher, summer school principal, and assistant principal. Prior to joining IUSD, Belinda worked as a Special Day Teacher (9-12) and Resource Teacher (K-8).

She resides in Irvine with her husband Steve and two children. Belinda is looking forward to bringing her skills and experience to South Lake to have a positive impact on student learning and to forming collaborative relationships with staff, students, parents and the community.

As a Woodbridge graduate and long-time Irvine resident, Belinda understands the Irvine community and IUSD culture from a unique perspective.  She is experienced working with a diverse student body, high academic achievement and a broad range of extracurricular programs for students.  Belinda will continue as assistant principal at Woodbridge until the end of June, but will spend time in the interim meeting with staff, students and the parent community.

IUSD’s Erica Hawkes Races in the Boston Marathon

Congratulations to Erica Hawkes, IUSD Director of Special Education, who raced in the Boston Marathon earlier this week.  She finished the 26.2 mile race in only 3:33:55, which equates to a 8:09
Erica Hawkes (3) mile.   Erica’s time was even more impressive given the extreme weather conditions.  It rained nearly the entire race, with 20 mph headwinds at various points throughout the course.

“It pretty much rained, and at times poured, all the way from Hopkinton to Boston but it was one of the most amazing experiences ever,” said Erica.  “The crowds were incredible and really kept me going.”

This was Erica’s fifth road marathon and she has run one trail marathon.  Her Boston qualifier was the St. George Marathon, five hours south of Salt Lake City, Utah.  Erica’s Boston Marathon time qualified her for next year’s race.