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DUSD Employees Recognized at the 2022 TCOE Excellence in Education Awards

DUSD Employees recognized at the 2022 TCOE Excellence in Education Awards

(Center left: Robin Sirr (Kennedy) - Administrator/Manager of the Year Nominee; Center: Nancy Warkentin (Retired, Wilson) - Teacher of the Year Winner; Center right: Alex Contreras (LVN, Wilson) - School Employee of the Year Nominee; Pictured with: From left, Dr. Sanchez, former Wilson Principal, Maria Lichtenwaldt, current Wilson Principal, Bev Keel-Worrel, Board Trustee, Marti Kochevar, Assistant Superintendent)

Wednesday, November 2, 2022

TULARE COUNTY – Teachers, administrators and other staff members who work with children are just as important to a child’s development as their time in the classroom. And three of them were recognized for their hard work with an annual award.

To celebrate the efforts of these workers, the Tulare County Office of Education (TCOE) granted awards of excellence to the three staff members, who were nominated by their peers. Tulare County superintendent of schools Tim Hire surprised the staff members with the news of their achievements as winners for the 28th Annual Tulare County Excellence in Education Awards program on April 19. The winners are Leanne Cerda as Administrator/Manager of the Year, Nancy Warkentin as Teacher of the Year and Blanca Esparza as School Employee of the Year.

“Each winner has a heart for seeing students grow into successful young adults, and for collaborating with community partners and district resources to support their vision,” Hire said.

The winners, along with program finalists and nominees, were honored with an invitation-only breakfast event on Nov. 2 at the Visalia Convention Center Exhibit Hall.

This year, a total of 31 employees were nominated. The nominees were submitted by Tulare County school districts under the three categories, which are administrator/manager, teacher and school employee of the year. A committee of Tulare County business and education leaders individually reviewed and scored each nominee to determine the winners.

TEACHER OF THE YEAR: Nancy Warkentin

Transitional Kindergarten teacher for Wilson Elementary School in Dinuba Unified School District.

Nancy Warkentin, now retired, was a teacher with Dinuba Unified for 37 years at Wilson Elementary. For the past 10 years, she was a transitional kindergarten teacher, helping four and five-year-olds develop educational foundations and teaching them to love learning inside and outside the classroom.

Warkentin’s nominators praised her for her creativity in making California school standards fun for her students. Through the use of music, song, pictures, drama, art and technology, Warkentin actively engaged her students in their lessons. At the core of her instruction was love, which she expressed to her students, valuing each one as her own “beautiful” children.

Warkentin also focused on students’ social and emotional learning. She continually collected data and made observations of their struggles, potential triggers and what they valued. She used this data to adapt her instruction to meet their needs. Another foundational effort in her class was the establishment of model behavior. Warkentin said that discipline is a teachable moment, not a punishment.

“Learning cannot effectively occur in chaos, so I establish a clear set of expectations and consistency in managing my classroom,” Warkentin said. 

In addition to her teaching career, Warkentin was active on her campus, serving as the school site hospitality committee chair and leader of the Social-Emotional Learning Afterschool group. She also coordinated performance opportunities for her students, including their annual Christmas caroling event at Covenant Care Center in Dinuba.

To read more about the nominees, finalists, and winners, and to see the video created about the winners, visit: 2022 TCOE Excellence in Education Awards

Source: The Sun-Gazette