Also serving the communities of De Luz, Rainbow, Camp Pendleton, Pala and Pauma

FUESD honors teacher, employee of year

Schools, departments in district also recognize individuals

Rick Monroe

Special to the Village News

The Teacher of Year and Employee of Year in the Fallbrook Union Elementary School District share a common thread. They each have the assignment to keep their responsibilities running.

For Breena Bogikes, physical education instructor at William H. Frazier Elementary School, it's to keep her students running – as well as doing other physical activities.

For Tom O'Malley, lead mechanic in the transportation department, it's to keep the district's buses and other vehicles operational.

Arica Rainey, principal at William H. Frazier, introduced Bogikes, noting that the teacher has worked for the district for 26 years, also serving at Mary Faye Pendleton and La Paloma Elementary prior to transferring to Frazier six years ago. She still teaches grades part-time at La Paloma. At Pendleton, she was a classroom teacher for 17 years.

"Breena is an advocate for our students," Rainey said."She goes above and beyond to meet the needs of all our students on a daily basis. She is a dedicated teacher and always has a smile on her face."

The principal said students look forward to their PE time.

"She constantly encourages and motivates our students to do their very best, especially when students are working towards getting their personalized fitness goals that she has created with them," Rainey added.

Robert Trotter, director of transportation, introduced O'Malley, who has been with the district for eight-plus years.

"It takes a timeless effort to make sure that all of the vehicles are kept moving throughout the district," Trotter said. "As our lead mechanic, he is responsible for not only maintaining all the vehicles, but also has to schedule the maintenance, making sure all the vehicles are inspected and certified by the appropriate agencies, both state and federal.

"Tom is polite and helpful when the drivers need assistance and is willing to do whatever is required to get the buses, vans, work trucks, electric carts or any other district vehicle operating as quickly as possible."

Trotter said the mechanic takes on anything required, even if it is on the weekend or after hours to make a deadline and get the vehicles back to the drivers.

O'Malley is also a certified school bus driver for the last 5-6 years and fills in when needed.

"Tom is probably the most humble person here and never really looks for praise, but this award is special to all of our department as we all know how hard he works to keep the wheels rolling," the director concluded.

Suzanne Lundin, board president, began the meeting by noting the standing-room only attendance.

"This is the first time in three years that we've been able to have an in-person awards ceremony for our employees and teachers of the year and it's so wonderful to see all of you here tonight," she said.

There are nine teachers and 12 employees who have shown us what it means to be exemplary in what they do, she noted.

"They all have one thing in common," Lundin added. "They care deeply about our students, and they go over and above what they are required to do again, and again, and again."

Brian Morris, HR superintendent, introduced school principals or department directors who then announced their honored selections.

At Fallbrook Stem Academy, the EOY was Milena Phillips, a health care specialist. Teacher of Year went to Stephanie Gaddis, a speech and language psychologist.

La Paloma Elementary chose Ramon Correa-Martinez, a custodian for 23 years, as its EOY. TOY was Alida Leonard, a speech and language psychologist.

Live Oak Elementary's top employee was Holli Genduso, special education assistant. Jessica Carlson, a first-year reading interventionist, was TOY.

Maie Ellis named playground supervisor Lacie Boulanger its Employee of Year, and Andrea Hernandez, bilingual kindergarten teacher, was TOY.

Jeremy Madewell, part-time custodian, was EOY at Mary Fay Pendleton Elementary School. Sheryl Valenta, a speech and language psychologist, was TOY.

Potter Junior High School's EOY was bilingual receptionist Abigale Acuna. Eighth grace science teacher Zachary Wilkerson, in his 10th year at the school, was the teacher selected EOY.

Gertie Seymour, librarian at San Onofre Elementary for 34 years, was its EOY. She is retiring this year. TOY was Christi Nees, a sixth grade teacher.

In addition to Bogikes being selected at Frazier, Leslie Pilling, administrative assistant for six years, was EOY.

Mary Ortega, instructional assistant for a collaboration class at Mike Choate Center, was its Employee of Year.

Teacher of Year at Fallbrook Virtual Academy was Kindra Umlor.

EOY at Child Nutrition Services was Tony Felt, delivery driver and custodian.

The district office EOY was Johnny Taylor III, network support technician.


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