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Manteca Unified lauds efforts
Emily Baker of George McParland Elementary School is congratulated by Vice Principal (main campus) Kathleen Stevens, right, and Annex Vice Principal Ann Jayne after being presented the Educator of the Year award for Support Services. - photo by ROSE ALBANO RISSO/The Bulletin

Manteca Unified School District last month recognized those selected for Educators of the Year.

Primary Schools

Rosemarie  Buccieri, McParland School kindergarten teacher

Statement said during the award presentation at April 7 Board of Trustee meeting:

“Mrs. Buccieri does not work or serve for awards or accolades, but simply to inspire and impact all those she comes in contact with each day.  She has mastered the elusive art of being firm but fair, having rules yet maintaining relationships, and keenly remembering that though she teaches numerous content/subject areas…she is really teaching ‘children,’ whom she freely offers love, acceptance, and grace.

“While remaining current with the latest instructional strategies and technologies, she can still reach a troubled or struggling student with simple, yet profound, motherly instincts and empathy coupled with complete professionalism.  Likewise, she can accelerate and challenge her brightest of students because of professional development experiences and innovations she has pursued and mastered.

“Mrs. Buccieri has a calling for her life, and that calling is teaching; which she exquisitely balances with her most important roles as a friend and mother.  She teaches her students to strive for excellence, to love reading, and to respect each other; and she teaches all of us (her peers) to give our best for our students, to wear a smile, to have faith, and to remember that the storms of life can often produce beautiful rainbows and new growth.”


Alexis Agdeppa, SDC M/M Grades 4-6, August Knodt School

Statement read during the awards ceremony:

“Miss Agdeppa is an exemplary classroom teacher who shows true care and concern for her students in her fourth through sixth grade Special Day Class.  Miss Agdeppa genuinely believes all students can learn.  She uses a myriad of teaching strategies to reach her students at their own personal levels of success.  Additionally, Miss Agdeppa shows a true interest in her students, lots of patience, and real empathy for what they are doing.  Her enthusiasm, love, and passion for teaching is evident in her daily involvements with her students.  While maintaining positive relationships with her students, Miss Agdeppa’s expectations remain firm, but fair, and her students find her endearing.  Parents frequently express their feelings of happiness and contentedness for the ways in which Miss Agdeppa finds and appreciates the unique attributes of each individual student.  She is an asset to her students and our school site, always contributing her personal best to ensure the success of her students.

“Miss Agdeppa is a respected teacher leader at August Knodt School and the Manteca Unified School District.  At August Knodt School she currently serves as a member of the Positive Behavior Support Team and Alliance for a Healthier Generation Committee where she is instrumental in developing school-based programs to build a positive culture and healthy lifestyle on the campus.  She is a co-advisor of the August Knodt Student Leadership, creating a culture of fun and respect for all.  Miss Agdeppa is often called upon to mentor new special education teachers through the Beginning Teacher and Support Assessment program.  In fact, she is currently providing BTSA support to two new special education teachers.  Miss Agdeppa is a strong support and an excellent role model who shows selflessness and devotion to the education profession, her coworkers, and her students.  She inspires everyone who comes into contact with her.”

Junior High

Sonya Wallick, Grades 7-8, Social Studies, Language Arts, and Physical Education, Brock Elliott School

Statement made during the awards ceremony:

“Sonya is a very valued member of the Brock Elliott School community.  She shares excellent rapport with students, parents, staff, and administration.  She is highly regarded for her expertise, organizational skills, and instructional effectiveness.  Sonya is committed to ongoing staff development and provides training and leadership in many different areas on campus and for the District.

“Her mentorship has been requested and valued by many student teachers and BTSA participants.  Teachers find her easy to talk to, supportive, and knowledgeable.

“Her biggest ‘claim to fame’ is the AVID program.  Sony is the Site Coordinator and an AVID teacher.  This is the only Nationally Certified Program in the District.  In order to be certified, the AVID Directors come out and review the program and evaluate all aspects using a very involved rubric.  Brock Elliott is on its way to becoming a Demonstration School.  All students in middle school, whether AVID or not, have binder requirements, take Cornell notes, Critically Read, and participate in Socratic Seminars and Philosophical chairs on a regular basis.  In addition, they participate in College Readiness and College student-guided peer tutorials.”

High School

William Aschenbrenner, Mathematics Teacher, Manteca Day School

Statement made at the awards ceremony:

“Mr. Aschenbrenner has a powerful ability to connect with the toughest students at Manteca Day School.  Many of our students have experienced unimaginable trauma and abuse and have little ability to trust their environment or the people around them.  Mr. Aschenbrenner uses a coach’s ‘can-do’ attitude and genuine concern to form bonds with both the withdrawn and isolated, to the most confrontational and threatening students.  He listens and recognizes emotional needs, he privately counsels, he values their opinions, he welcomes them to each class each day, and he offers immediate respect to his students.  He takes special care to preserve his students’ dignity in courses like math where they were intimidated or embarrassed in the past…Many of our students don’t feel safe within their own homes or neighborhoods, but they are excited to get to Algebra.  Mr. Aschenbrenner’s classroom is a safe place and a refuge for our students.

“I have this amazing teacher.  His welcoming attitude, highly knowledgeable skills and his passionate dedication have changed my views and skills in math.  I have never had a teacher that cares for his students like Mr. A. does.  He stands at the door with a happy smile on his face.  I haven’t seen a day yet where he is not smiling.  He is always wondering how you are.  He asks about your day.  He simply cares.

“Mr. Aschenbrenner’s passion for math is incredible.  I never thought a teacher could have the power to make someone change their opinion of a subject.  Mr. A. has done that for me and many other students.  His ability to make a problem easier than it looks really helps.  His knowledge is WOW!  He helps us to see the value of mathematics.  He loves what he does and I think it’s because he is making a difference in our lives.  I will never forget Mr. A.  He truly believes in us.  He knows we can do it.  If it wasn’t for Mr. A., I would be failing math.  The fact that he believes I can do it makes me work harder and prove to myself that math isn’t something to be afraid of.  Honestly, I never thought math could be so easy and that I would understand it, but I actually do!”

uKenneth Scott Myers, Computer Operations and Game Design Teacher, Lathrop High School

Statement given at the awards ceremony:

“Scott genuinely cares about the students in his class and the education that they receive.  He advises the afterschool Gamers Club to give his students who enjoy games outside of school a place to gather to play games together.  He has built a reputation with the students at Lathrop High School much like that of a coach.  He is the teacher that they turn to when they are in trouble as well as the instructor they look up to as a role model.  He pushes them to do their best, encouraging and uplifting them when they need it.  He expects a lot out of his students and is respected as an instructor for that.

“Mr. Myers has served as the head of the ROP and business departments at Lathrop High School for the past four years, guiding and working with new teachers to improve the quality of their instruction.  He is also a mentor for BTSA, Gaming Club advisor, Charter School Coordinator, and a facilitator for MUSD technology in-services.  Most recently, Mr. Myers has taken on the huge undertaking of beginning the charter school,  He has created new courses, designed a schedule, recruited staff members, recruited students, and he is on his way to developing one of the most innovative educational models in our District.  He lives his passion and radiates that passion to those around him.  On several occasions this school year I have visited Scott’s classroom and witnessed the dynamic teaching practices and passion with which he instructs his students.  I have often left Scott’s class thinking how fortunate the kids in his classes are to have a teacher that gives them everything he has every day!

“Scott currently teaches an ROP computer operations and game design course at LHS.  This course is designed to expose students to the basics of game design.  However, Scott has taken the course to a new level.  After two years of submissions and re-submissions, Scott’s game design course has been A-G approved by the College Board as a math UC/CSU accepted course.  This was no small feat, considering it was the first game design course in the state to receive such a certification.” 

Support Staff

uEmily Baker, Program Coordinator, George McParland School

“Ms. Baker has something that the great educators possess…the ability to make every student and staff member feel good about themselves.  She is an amazing Program Coordinator and educator but before this, she creates an incredible learning environment in all her various meetings and interactions with staff, students, and community members at George McParland School, where everyone feels respected.  She individualizes these experiences and makes them personal.  An example of this is her ability to present staff development that works with a wide variety of technology abilities, and meets the needs of each.  Ms. Baker is able to work with other classes and departments through cross-collaborative teams and is the consummate team player.

“Ms. Baker supports school activities and gets to know the students and staff, and their interests, because she genuinely cares about them.  Her work ethic is tireless and she is persistent in her ability to look for the best thing for kids.  She is our Program Coordinator, Testing Coordinator, Intervention Coordinator, and frequent Staff Developer.  She is pursuing her Administrative Credential while also pursuing her most important job of wife and mother.  Her attitude is contagious and she is such a welcome collaborative member because of how she approaches her job each day….she is the kind of educator that makes people want to be better and do better because of the trust she builds and the expectations she has for all.”