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Board of Education Honors the District’s Teachers, Support Staff, and Classified Employees of the Year

The SAUSD Board of Education recognized the District’s Teachers, Support Staff, and Classified Employees of the Year during its May 14, 2024 meeting.

The Board honored the following SAUSD employees for their contributions to SAUSD students, parents, staff and community:

2025 Teachers and Support Services Staff of the Year:

T. Rodriguez 2025 Elem. TOY

Thalia Rodriguez

Teacher, Heninger Elementary School 

Mrs. Rodriguez has a high school diploma from Santa Ana High School, a Bachelors in math from Pomona College, and a masters in education from USC. She received numerous honors, grants, and recognitions at all levels of her education.

Thalia, a former valedictorian from Santa Ana High School, embodies community spirit. A Pomona college student, she returned to Santa Ana Unified, enriching lives as a math teacher. Her profound impact is evident in the student leadership team she founded, reflecting her commitment to nurturing future leaders. 

Mrs. Rodriguez’s remarkable initiative in fostering student leadership within our school is truly commendable. Her almost single-handed effort in creating a program where students have a voice, take action, and become the true leaders is a testament to her dedication and innovative approach to education. 


C. Cabrera - Inter. TOY 2025

Cassandra Cabrera

Science Teacher,  Mendez Fundamental Intermediate

Cassandra Cabrera, a cornerstone at Mendez Fundamental Intermediate school for 11 years, embodies dedication and innovation. As a pioneering Greene Architecture teacher, she introduced groundbreaking CTE programs, broadening students' horizons. Her tireless commitment to STEM education extends beyond classrooms, fostering inclusivity and excellence. A true luminary in education. 

Cassandra Cabrera‘s 11-year tenure at Mendez Fundamental showcases pioneering initiatives - school-wide science, assemblies, diverse field trips, sports coaching, and innovative STEM programs like NASA SOFIA Girls in STEM. As Science Department Chair, she leads curriculum development and receives recognition for innovative, teaching, and ambassadorial roles in STEM.

Recently, Cassandra Cabrera was named an Orange County Teacher of the Year! On May 2, 2024 administrators from the Orange County Department of Education, Superintendent Jerry Almendarez, members of his cabinet, and school officials, including Cassandra's family, surprised her with a visit to Mendez Fundamental Intermediate School to extend their congratulations. 


N. Goodrich - HS TOY 2025

Nathan Goodrich

English Teacher, Century High School

Mr. Goodrich earned his single subject, teaching credential at CSULB, as well as his masters, in Education, Curriculum, and Instruction. He also hold Career Technical credentials in Arts, Media, and Entertainment, and in Child Development.

Mr. Goodrich started at Century in 2010-11 and has served as ELA Department Chair for 7 years. In the past, he taught Print Journalism for 4 years, and was the Speech and Debate coach for 5 years. In addition, he taught Careers in Education for 6 years as part of our TEACH Academy.


D. Bean - Support Staff of the Year 2024

Donovan Bean

Psychologist, Harvey Elementary School 

Donovan Bean graduated from the University of California, Santa Barbara with a School Psychology credential and a Masters from Azusa Pacific. Mr. Bean worked as an Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) Specialist. He became the Behavior Intervention Case Manager, (BICM) through the Orange County Department of Education, and he served as a BICM and ADOS, (autism), assessor within the district for over 10 years. Mr. Bean has been a district trainer for Non-Crisis Intervention (CPI).

Mr. Bean has served as a mentor to the special education staff, as well as other psychologists in the district. He leads the special education department at Harvey and Fremont. Over the years, Mr. Bean has been instrumental in bringing a collaborative approach to staff and servicing students. He brings in the appropriate resources to ensure that staff and students have what they need to be successful. Oftentimes, you will find Mr. Bean in the classroom modeling appropriate behavioral techniques for teachers and staff.


2024 Classified School Employees of the Year:

Bertha Amezcua - CSEOY 2024


Bertha Amezcua

Office Manager, Wilson Elementary School

Miss Amezcua‘s work performance is stellar! She is extremely knowledgeable and organized and keeps Wilson running like a well-oiled machine. 

She works hard at supporting everyone, including staff, students, and families. She does it all consistently with the humble, joyful, and loving spirit.

Bertha has a great talent for seeing the “big picture”. She can be counted on to organize events that utilize everyone’s unique talents. She is widely respected by everyone, including students, staff, parents, and administrators. 

Mayra Ordonez - CSEOY 2024


Mayra Ordonez

Family and Community Engagement (FACE) Liaison, Willard Intermediate School 

Our Family and Community Liaison has consistently demonstrated exceptional work performance that has greatly benefited our organization. Her unwavering dedication to building strong connections between our institution and the community has had a profound impact. 

Our family and community liaison has shown remarkable dedication to fostering, strong school and community involvement. Her tireless efforts have created a bridge between our institution and the local community resulting in a myriad of positive outcomes. 

Her exemplary leadership has set a high standard for our organization, inspiring and motivating, both colleagues and community members alike. 

Matias Miranda - CSEOY 2024


Matias Miranda

Plant Custodian, Mitchell Child Development Center

Matias is an exceptional employee. He is new to the site, and has already been determined to be invaluable. This is the first time we have had a new employee be nominated by so many staff members as the nominee for Classified Employee of the Year. Needless to say, Matias is going above and beyond what his job entails and it is noticed by everyone on the staff. 

Matias has been involved in all of our school activities and programs. He has procured items for these events. He has created a check in/out system for classroom materials, enhanced the facility with the resources available, and has been able to undertake tasks that require skill and expertise. He is actively involved in helping out the community by being a helping hand.

Matias serves on the Safety Committee and the Mitchell Squad. He is proactive in determining what needs to be addressed, and takes the lead to ensure that the projects are completed to satisfaction. He leads by example. He consistently volunteers to help with any project outside of his workday. The students and staff look up to Matias.

Erika Pereyra - CSEOY 2024


Erika Pereyra

 Library Media Technician, McFadden Institute of Technology

Erica Pereyra’s work performance as Library Media Technician is truly commendable. Her leadership and streamlining program procedures has significantly enhanced efficiency, setting a high standard for positive behavior incentives that positively impact both staff and students. Erika’s dedication is evident through her extra hours, ensuring a seamless transition between the school day and after-school activities.

Erika actively engages with the school and community, fostering a positive environment beyond the library. Her involvement in committees and events like Read Across America demonstrates dedication. Erika’s inviting demeanor during after-school homework assistance builds crucial connections between the school and families. Including community members as guest readers showcases her role as a valuable community resource.

Erika’s leadership is exemplary, seen in her active participation in school, committees, and support in developing new procedures. Her dedication to positive behavioral motivators and understanding of student learning make her invaluable. Erika’s passion for instilling a love of learning is infectious, and her sustained commitment to students, staff, and families is unwavering. She is an invaluable member of CSEA and mentors new staff members.

Mario Nieto - CSEOY 2024


Mario Nieto Mireles

Nutrition Services Lead, Middle College High School

Mr. Nieto’s job performance is second to none. He is an amazing nutritional services site lead. He rarely if ever misses a day of work. When he does miss work, every student notices, and is concerned for his well-being. Working at Middle College without a dedicated food service area is difficult. Mr. Nieto makes the best of the situation. He is always trying to get our students the best food he can. He takes pride in making an appetizing setting to showcase the food for students. His positivity is contagious. He has a greeting for every student and staff member he meets. Mr. Nieto is always participating in school events and even coaches our school soccer team.

Mr. Nieto leads by example. He treats everyone as a friend to be respected and cherished. We are all honored to have him as a vital part of our school culture. He supports school activities and programs, such as College Wednesday by making sure to have a college shirt every Wednesday to support the program. 

Elvira Villela - CSEOY 2024


Elvira Villela

Activity Monitor, Washington Elementary School

Elvira has consistently demonstrated exceptional dedication, initiative, and strong commitment to maintaining a safe and positive environment throughout the campus. She goes above and beyond to make connections with students and staff. She is on time and always flexible to support all students. She is wonderful to work with and we are very happy to have her at Washington.

Elvira has worked at Washington and has seen many generations of families come through Washington and has built wonderful long lasting relationships with our families. 

Elvira is committed to making connections with students and families and looks for ways to connect with everyone. She is helpful to everyone and always willing to go above and beyond her duties to support all staff. 

Paul Lam - CSEOY 2024


Paul Lam

Prepress Operator, Logistics Department

Paul has demonstrated exceptional creativity and technical skills as a graphic designer for Santa Ana Unified School District. His work has consistently exceeded expectations, producing visually appealing and effective designs for various educational materials. Paul is reliable, detail oriented, and able to meet tight deadlines without compromising quality. Paul consistently contributes to the district's visual identity with the delivery of superior design work. 

Paul actively engages with various department leaders and event coordinators to help market community events, leveraging, and not only his design skills, but also his technical skills on the production floor to enhance events and initiatives. His creative contributions have played a pivotal role in fostering a strong sense of identity within the district and promoting meaningful connections with the community. 

Mr. Lam demonstrates outstanding leadership and commitment as a graphic designer for SAUSD. His innovative designs, coupled with strong work ethic, have elevated our department’s visual presence. He exhibits exceptional dedication to his craft, inspires colleagues, and makes a lasting impact on the district’s image and communication materials.