This week is School Staff Appreciation Week. It was originally Eleanor Roosevelt who convinced Congress in 1953 that it was important to honor the lasting impressions that teachers have on their students’ lives. In the Brentwood Union School District, we honor our amazing teachers, alongside the incredible staff members who support them, during the first full week of May each year. Our generous and supportive Parent Clubs and PTA’s typically find multiple ways throughout the week to let school staff members know how much they are appreciated. This year is a little different as school staff work diligently at home to try and make the best out of a difficult situation. With over 1,000 employees who are trying to support student learning in a whole new way, I am honored to work together with so many outstanding individuals.

I am honored to work with Garin instructional aide Colleen Samorano who helped make and distribute second-grade packets and delivered dozens of Chromebooks to the homes of students who needed them. I am honored to work with Adams P.E. teacher Tammy Varnum who has created weekly shelter-in-place-friendly workout options for middle school students to keep them active. She has built and shared these with all district P.E. teachers along with an electronic log that students use to submit back to their teacher. I am honored to work with Marsh Creek teachers and aides Jacey Renfroe, Monica Bailey, Heidi Shatswell, Pam Smith, Sarah Ancarde and Sherri Dias who made porch deliveries of packet work to students who were unable to pick them up. I am honored to work with Marsh Creek librarian Cydni Lopez who started a digital weekly Library Gazette with some of her routine activities including a weekly trivia contest, Read-Alouds with corresponding quizzes, and a message from our Library dog Savi.

I am honored to work with our food services team led by Kristin Nissen who have prepared and given out 100,000 meals to children since March Break. I am honored to work with Loma Vista kindergarten teacher Esme Bruesewitz who meets with her families one-on-one through Zoom weekly to take the time to listen and support each family. I am honored to work with Edna Hill Secretary Kristin Lyman, who together with her family, have sewn almost 200 masks during this health crisis for the community to support health and safety. This included masks for our school volunteers as well so we can safely distribute supplies to our students. I am honored to work with Brentwood Elementary first grade teacher Heather Jeffrey, who has gone above and beyond to keep her school community connected through technology. She created weekly positive video montages for all Brentwood Elementary students and families along with sharing multiple tech tips per week for staff members to use in their own teaching.

I am honored to work with our custodial team members, who have quietly worked behind the scenes to make sure classrooms, offices, kitchens and restrooms are safe for the staff that need them. I am honored to work with teachers like Joe Thornhill, Jeff Madrid, Amanda Konrad and Tiffany Coppley who are not only running their own distance learning programs but are taking the time to share their expertise with others through online courses to support distance learning across the district. I am honored to work with Mary Casey Black secretary Sasha Ordaz who works behind the scenes to make sure our students and families that have limited English remain connected to school. I am honored to work with Adams teachers Paul Slay and Lisa Kennealy, who have supported their fellow teachers in the Classlink Teacher Console by sharing technological experience with distance learning tools. I am honored to work with our technology teacher on special assignment Lisa Brizendine, who has worked nonstop since this has started to provide technical assistance, professional development and solve problems for our teaching staff across the district. I am honored to work with Loma Vista fourth-grade teacher Deanna Lengyel, who held a second “Back to School Night” for all of her fourth-grade parents to help them navigate this new normal. She Offered a Zoom meeting at 10 a.m. and another one at 7 p.m. trying to be flexible for working parents.

I am honored to work with Pioneer teacher Aimee Schwartz and Krey teacher Janet Cattolico, who have volunteered to give up their own lunch nearly every day to hand out meals to our students. I am honored to work with Bristow teacher Christy Morfeld who regularly shares ideas and support to the team of teachers she works with. The support she has provided the Bristow staff has allowed them to implement a stronger distance-learning program. I am honored to work with Ron Nunn fourth-grade teacher Amie Martin who has organized Virtual Field Trips every Friday. So far students have traveled to Empire Mine in Grass Valley, Carlsbad Caverns in New Mexico, and The Museum of the American Revolution. I am honored to work with Krey computer aide Lauren Bellone who has been supporting parents in need of technical support throughout our distance learning time. Teachers have contacted her with parents who need support, and she solves problems. I am proud to work with Krey teachers Tracy Fogelstrom and Chris Vanderheid who have been supporting 42 students who live at Marsh Creek Road and Briones Valley Road by taking them breakfast and lunch meals prepared by BUSD staff. The families are unable to pick up meals and are extremely thankful for their support and appreciate that they take time out of their days to make the trip out there.

I am so proud and appreciative of the staff at our 11 schools who have stepped up during this unprecedented time. For every name that is listed here, there are twenty more that I didn’t mention who are making a dramatic difference for students. Loma Vista Principal Julie Croy shared with me this quote about her staff, and I think it is perfect for our entire school staff in Brentwood: “Dana, I can’t say enough about the extreme effort and kind-heartedness that the Loma Vista staff has displayed during this time.”

I cannot say enough either. Happy School Staff Appreciation Week, and thank you for all you do in our community.

Dana Eaton,

Brentwood Union School District superintendent