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Duarte is Proud to Announce our District Employees of the Year!
Duarte USD Celebrates Annual District Employees of the Year
Held on March 16th at the Duarte Senior Center, special honors were given to the teacher and classified employees from each school. Their colleagues selected the honorees as most deserving of the award for professional excellence and integrity. A favored tradition, the District Employees of the Year Awards represents the commitment to success at the heart of the Duarte community. Take a look at each school’s award-winning district teacher and classified employee below!
Valley View Academy Teacher of the Year: Katie Rokus
Valley View Academy, Teacher of the Year Katie Rokus’s positive attitude and commitment to her students make an impact on the lives of everyone she interacts with. Bringing a new meaning to the term “beastmode,” Katie makes it her mission to connect with and support every individual student on their journey to social, emotional, and educational success. She works tirelessly to provide the most engaging instruction for her students, encouraging them to be lifelong learners while constantly seeking new learning opportunities for herself. You can often walk into her classroom to find her teaching an SEL lesson, engaged in a class circle, or giving a pep talk to help a student get back on track. From supporting the success of the Valley View Track Team, full involvement in P.E. classes she leads, and starting up an after-school fitness group for teachers - she recognizes and values the benefits of fitness and spreads that far and wide.
Valley View Academy Classified Employee of the Year: Pauline Monge
A health aide with Duarte since 2008, Pauline Monge Pauline makes it her mission to ensure every last child and adult is well taken care of when it comes to a bump, bruise or scrape...or all the other fun things that find their way into Ms. Pauline’s office on a daily basis. Her attention to detail allows her to meet the various medical needs of each child. In addition to her technical skills as a health aide, Pauline’s warm personality and strong communication skills have earned her the trust of parents and students alike. It has been said by her colleagues that, “to be successful is to be helpful, caring, and constructive, and to make everything and everyone you touch a little bit better.” In every sense of this definition, Pauline is the epitome of the word successful.
Maxwell Academy Teacher of the Year: Noelle Doctorian
When math and science teacher Noelle Doctorian was interviewed at Maxwell Academy, she asserted that she was “ innovative, resourceful, and full of great ideas that will benefit this team.” Her commitment to those words is one of the many reasons why Team Maxwell selected her as “Teacher of the Year”. Not only does she teach 7th-grade math and science as well as an elective, but she is also an advisor for ASB and “Sladies”, a club that mentors our middle school girls helping them to be strong, assertive, and empowered. Noelle can be described as small in stature but mighty in influence when it comes to the impact she makes on her students and cultivating their success and happiness.
Maxwell Academy Classified Employee of the Year: Martha Martinez
For the past 27 years, proctor Martha Martinez has maintained the safety of thousands of children, ensuring that the school’s health and safety rules are followed to the highest standard. Martha is the watchwoman over the Maxwell community, watching over students from the first day of kindergarten to the last day of eighth grade. Martha goes above and beyond to nurture each and every student, comforting the crying kindergartner on their first day, or supporting the sixth grader trying to figure out where they belong. Martha’s compassion coupled with her work ethic and willingness to always lend a helping hand in any situation makes her the embodiment of success at Maxwell Academy.
Duarte High School Teacher of the Year: Tracy Hall
Tracy Hall, a veteran special education teacher with over 25 years of experience, is cherished by her students due to her innate compassion and dedication. Tracy’s work impacts the success of our special education students, teaching our adult transition class where students learn job skills, life skills, and the academics necessary to become more independent and thrive in the community and the workplace. Her reach goes way beyond just her students in her classroom; she executes leadership as an advisor to 3 clubs on campus, Interact, Senior Class Advisor, and the Environmental club. Aside from being relentlessly helpful, uplifting, and committed to her work, she exhibits school spirit like no other, going all out for school activities and dress-up days.
Duarte High School Classified Employee of the Year: Sarah Brizuela
Custodian Sarah Brizuela’s commitment to elevating the lives of Duarte HS students and staff is evident in her daily hard work. Sarah’s passion for the community has led her to fill various roles, from receptionist at the district office to food service and various positions within the Childhood Development Center. Every day, Sarah ensures that students have a safe and clean environment to learn, develop and grow. Upon learning she was selected as the Classified Employee of the Year, Sarah almost jumped out of the library as she was celebrated by our staff, her joy contagious to those around her.
MIT Teacher of the Year: Laurent Lanuqueitte
His 25 years of service at MIT has landed him the reputation of best math teacher ever by Principal Morris. His true passion for math, high expectations and support given to students, and great rapport with students, parents, and staff foster an environment of success. It’s not unusual to have former graduates return to MIT to thank Mr. Lanuqueitte for his patience, time and dedication when helping them improve in math. I am reminded of the love students have for him at graduation when he’s introduced and you hear the thunderous cheers from students and parents alike for the math miracles Mr. Lanuqueitte has performed.
MIT Classified Employee of the Year: Ana Urias
Described as the glue that holds MIT together, Office Manager Ana Urias’s presence and demeanor in the front office creates a welcoming environment of genuine concern, respect, and care for all MIT families. Ana possesses impeccable communication skills and takes the initiative to handle tasks that bridge our school and families. She translates for our Spanish-speaking families at Open House, Back to School Night, Parent University, School Site Council, and attend meetings when needed. Ana is the model for providing first-class service for staff and families, her warm and dedicated manner shining through every step of the way!
Beardslee Academy Teacher of the Year: Hannah Rodriguez
As Pre-K SDC teacher, Hannah Rodriguez ensures no student is left behind! She individualizes all her curriculum to meet each student’s needs, embodying inclusivity and equity. If you want to see what a true example of differentiated instruction is, watch Hannah work her magic, even bringing parents to tears after witnessing the pathways created for their children. She is a leader in every aspect, having served as a mentor teacher to many, an adjunct professor at CSULA, and a coach for a special needs baseball team.
Beardslee Academy Classified Employee of the Year: Letty Tapia
The backbone of Beardslee Academy, Office Manager Letty Tapia makes an impact in more ways than one! A renaissance woman, she has been described as a teacher, a nurse, a counselor, a mentor, an advocate, a translator, childcare, a proctor, she is a copy tech, a ASEOP guru, an attendance report running expert, a query queen, a mentor, and friend to all! She has the ability to make a student feel like they are the most important person in the world, whether it be a small cut that requires a band aide, a tardy slip, a printout, or a call home, she makes students feel valued and like they are the only one in the room when talking with Letty.
Duarte USD Child Development Program ECE Teacher of the Year: Vishal Velusamy
A teacher since 1992, Vishal Velusamy brings great energy, experience, and talent to the preschool program with vigor and passion. Her rich cultural background is reflected in the diverse learning environment that she creates for her children, staff, and families. Vishal the standard for students with firm classroom rules and routines to foster a positive and respectful climate.
Duarte USD Child Development Program ECE Classified Employee of the Year: Rosa Zarco
Rosa Zarco has been an integral part of Duarte Child Development since 1999. She began as a preschool volunteer parent and became one of the most accountable, responsible, and professional instructional aides. Her wisdom and knowledge in Early Childhood education and excellent classroom management skills make her a valuable team player. “We need one hundred more people like Mrs. Zarco!”, state her co-workers. There is no small or big task; she is there as the person who can be counted on to support or lend a helping hand.
Duarte USD Educational Services Department Classified Employee of the Year: Mario San Juan
Once again, Mario San Juan has been selected by the Ed Center team as our Classified Employee of the Year. As Secretary III in Educational Services, Mario serves a critical role in ensuring the resources that support teaching and learning in our schools are running smoothly. Mario is responsible for so many of these behind-the-scenes tasks that are critical to keeping our District in compliance with all the law and regulations. Mario was the key point of contact for our Federal Program Monitoring, which led to a successful review by the California Department of Education.Whether Mario is executing his expertise in communications, web design, data, Spanish translation or more, he is doing so with a contagious smile that instantly elevates the mood of those around him.
Duarte USD Maintenance Classified Employee of the Year: Sulema Arteaga
Maintenance, Operations & Facilities Account Technician Sulema Arteaga constantly finds new ways to help co-workers regardless of how high her work load may be. Sulema makes it a point to be proactive, consistently following-through to ensure understanding by not just staff, but by the other team members who might have to field questions. She is quick to respond to requests for additional information and is thorough in ensuring all loose ends are completed to facilitate the success of any project. Coined one of the friendliest people they know, Sulema’s co-workers value her can-do attitude and bright smile.
Royal Oaks Steam Academy Teacher of the Year: Dr. Tatiana White
Dr. Tatiana White’s 22 years serving Duarte students is a reflection of her passion for education and commitment to students. As the Teaching and Learning Coach at Royal Oaks, she manages all school-related assessments, curriculum needs, creation and implementation of the school safety plan, and supports English learners, GATE students, and provides intervention. As an integral part of the leadership team, she can be found de-escalating situations or working 1 on 1 or in small groups with students. In her own words, Tatiana White is “not an admin; she is just the muscle.” The way in which she sees the best in students and dedicates time to those in need is what make her employee of the year!
Royal Oaks Steam Academy Classified Employee of the Year: Jennifer Garcia
A product of the Duarte school system, clerk typist Jennifer Garcia can be described as the “Master Juggler” for her school. The number one source when people walk through the door, she is the first person everyone goes to with any question or need. From multi-tasking answering the phone, attending to the visitor window, addressing a teacher’s question, and redirecting students she handles it all with ease and a smile! Regardless of how many things she may have coming her way, you will never see her become frazzled or raise her voice, embodying grace in everything she does.