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San Juan Unified names 2022 Classified Employees of the Year 

San Juan Unified has named six 2022 Classified Employees of the Year, surprising each employee with a certificate and celebration this month. Meet the 2022 Classified Employees of the Year:

Natalia Aguirre - District Community Engagement Specialist, Family and Community Engagement (FACE)

Natalia Aguirre is credited with being a light in the district office and taking the needs of students to heart. Aguirre is known to work well past her 40-hours and states that the needs of students and families do not end when the workday ends. 

This year, she even started her own coat drive to fulfill a need for more than 200 San Juan Unified students and their families.

“If a family needs food or clothes, Natalia will call a school site or community partners to see who can fulfill the need or drive food out to the family,” said colleague Elizabeth Zelidon. “There is never an obstacle or need too big for her to fulfill or find someone who can.”

Malinda (Mindy) Bates - Instructional Assistant III, Ralph Richardson Center​

Nominated by her colleagues, Malinda (Mindy) Bates is known for coming to work with a smile on her face every day and having a secret talent for helping students find their voice. 

“She works diligently with our speech language pathologists and classroom teams to ensure that students always have access to their vocabulary (whether it is icons, iPad, or just their voice) and that they are HEARD,” said teacher Amanda Morgan. 

One example of her efforts was when she helped students pick a school mascot. Once a mascot was chosen, she worked with the PTA to buy a costume and was the first to wear it and dance around for students and staff. 

Shawn Bennett - Equipment Technician, Nutrition Services​

As a Nutrition Services Cafeteria Equipment Technician II for more than a decade, Shawn Bennett is credited as being the glue that keeps the department together. As a two-man team, he and another coworker frequently visit 67 kitchens to service them and keep them running smoothly for students.

Aside from servicing kitchen equipment, Shawn is known for being a listening ear. 

“Shawn is also a genuine soul,” said colleague and nominator, Penny Gardner. “He will take time out to chat with you if you need a friend. He will listen and give you a sincere response. Whether it is work-related or personal, he is a supportive co-worker.” 

Zenaida Kamine - School Community Prevention Specialist, ​El Camino Fundamental High School​

Zenaida Kamine is being recognized for her work motivating and encouraging the El Camino Fundamental High School community. As a School Community Prevention Specialist, she has gone above and beyond her duties to work closely with the student government teacher to support student events, and has taken on the advisor position for the Screaming Eagles student cheer group. 

El Camino Principal Randy Holcomb said, “When given a task, there is no doubt that she will complete that task in a timely fashion with a lot of heart and soul added.”

Aaron Pierini - Database Administrator, Technology Services​

Aaron Pierini is being recognized for being a critical component to the success of the​ Technology Service Department. 

Each morning before school, Pierini reviews the SIS systems to ensure that it is functioning correctly for our staff and students. Once, while on vacation to Hawaii, he woke up at 4:30 a.m. to review the system as it had previously had issues. 

“He is willing to learn and work outside his regular job duties to add value and support to any team and project that may need his help,” said Senior Director of Technology Services Peter Skibitzki. “Sites and departments across the district can count on Aaron to quickly fix any issues with the student information system, even after hours. He is a team player and genuinely cares about those we serve.”

John Weathers - Head Custodian, Trajan Elementary

John Weathers was nominated by his site for his high standard of work. John is known for making sure the school site is clean, working for students of all populations and being an active member of the Trajan community. 

“When students see Mr. John, they get excited. This is because our student population knows that he cares about them,” said Trajan teacher Julie Abrams. 

Weathers has also been honored with the “You Light the Way” award in 2016 and the “Spirit of San Juan” award in 2021.

Congratulations to all six Classified Employees of the Year! They will be recognized by the Board of Education at the Jan. 25 virtual board meeting. 

The six nominees will be forwarded to the Sacramento County Office of Education as San Juan Unified’s nominations for the countywide Classified Employees of the Year Program.