Every Day Heroes

EVERYDAY HEROES honors classified employees who demonstrate excellence in work performance, school and community involvement, and leadership and commitment to our District and students. Tier 1 of the program allows anyone (fellow employee, supervisor, parent, etc.) to submit a nomination to recognize the efforts of Poway Unified classified employees at any time of the year. Nominated classified employees, along with their supervisors and nominator, receive a notification informing them that they have been nominated as a Tier 1 Everyday Hero. Three times a year, a committee reviews the nominations of employees recognized in Tier 1 and selects those to be recognized as Tier 2 outstanding PUSD employees. Tier 2 employees are recognized at Board of Education meetings and receive certificates of recognition.


Kevin Ashwell, Campus Security Specialist, Westview High School

  • Kevin works tirelessly to make the campus safe and run smoothly and wears many “hats.” When there is an event on campus, Kevin is there for prior set up, stays throughout the event for security, and is usually the last to leave after clean up. He chaperones every ASB event both on and off campus. He is present at all senior class activities throughout the school year and is absolutely instrumental to the flow of the graduation ceremony each June. The campus would not be what it is without the services of Kevin Ashwell. He does more than what is asked, without ever wanting credit, and it is always with a smile. His humility and tireless effort is the consummate example to both students and staff.


Gale Ching, Instructional Assistant II Special Education, Abraxas High School

  • During lunch a severely disabled student became very quiet and started to turn red. Gale reacted quickly and calmly preforming the Heimlich maneuver on the student. The student was then checked by the Health Technician and was able to continue her regular school activities. Gale’s quick actions saved the student’s life that day. The Instructional Assistants in the Transition program are all amazing heroes every day, but on this day Gale was a super hero.


Sarah Cockrell, School Administrative Assistant – Elementary, Midland Elementary School

  • Sarah goes above and beyond to assist our school community. Her warm smile and peaceful demeanor brings joy to everyone with whom she interacts. She provides excellent customer service in every aspect possible. When she learned of a Midland family in crisis, she connected them with a local parish who provided the family with shelter and support. As a result, the student was able to remain at Midland. Sarah is a true gem in our community.


Gabriel Jauregui, Instructional Assistant I, Special Education, Black Mountain Middle School

  • Gabe is truly a team player who volunteers his time for students. He is always out in front of the school during morning drop off waiting for PAL students, and helping to supervise other students as well. Recently, he was the first staff member to respond to a student incident. Additionally, the site sometimes runs short on noon supervisors who help manage the lunch lines. Gabe is often seen standing in the doorway taking on this role. Gabe has volunteered to chaperone special education students at 6th Grade Camp. It can sometimes be difficult to find someone who is willing to spend their entire week, night and day, with 300 plus 6th Grade students, but Gabe is a champ! Gabe is recognized for his willingness to help out wherever he can, without prompting or asking – he just does it because he cares!


Carol LeClair, Instructional Assistant Physical Education, Deer Canyon Elementary School

  • Carol is an amazing asset to the Deer Canyon school and community, and works above and beyond expectations. Not only does she ensure that all Deer Canyon students meet the State PE Standards, she has also added a motor lab to the campus. The motor lab consists of six stations that cover a wide variety of loco-motor skills that keeps the entire class engaged for over 20 minutes of movement. The children love the activities, and are developing age appropriate physical education skills. The motor lab is structured so that regular classroom teachers can arrive, start the program to engage the children, then watch and encourage their class to complete each activity. Carol designed this concept, organized all the activities and constructed the lab on her own initiative. We would like to recognize her outstanding contribution to the physical fitness of the students at Deer Canyon.


Courtney Davis Martin, Professional Learning Coordinator, PSEA

  • Courtney works above and beyond providing quality professional learning opportunities for her classified coworkers. She leads the joint PUSD/PSEA Professional Learning Advisory Board, manages and implements all Professional Learning Program components including multi-workshop Professional Growth Day events, the Classified Learning Cooperative, Professional Partner mentoring program, and the Education Financial Incentive Program. She frequently conducts one on one peer mentoring, and has obtained her certification as a ProAct trainer, providing workshops for Instructional Assistants, Campus Security and other classified staff, which supports the District’s safe and caring environment for students. She is passionate about professional development for the classified staff, and goes the extra mile to ensure learning opportunities meet the needs of employees in both the Operations Support Services and the Office, Technical, Business and Paraprofessional units at PUSD. The Professional Learning Program has been in existence for a few years now, and each year classified employees enjoy more impressive offerings than the year before. This is possible due to Courtney’s commitment to continuous improvement. She is a positive force in meeting the District’s initiative of continuous learning for all staff.


Kyle McFarland, Bus Transportation Aide, Transportation Department

  • Kyle deserves recognition for his positive commitment to district students and truly exemplifies the definition of an Everyday Hero. Kyle’s assignment requires supervision of students with exceptional needs while the bus is in route to and from school. Kyle is assigned to a bus route that travels across San Diego County to a highly specialized program for students with social-emotional needs. He goes above and beyond the basic duties of his assignment and creates an atmosphere of safety, kindness, and mutual respect for all of the student riders. Kyle’s skill set includes a keen level of awareness, observational skills, and positive intervention. Through quick decisive response, Kyle intervened in a potentially life threatening situation resulting in the protection of our students. Kyle’s dedication and commitment to excellence is admired by students, district staff, and parents alike.


Gene Morris, Campus Security Specialist, Poway High School

  • “Coach Gene” goes above and beyond at Poway High. As a soccer and softball coach, not only are his teams successful at winning, he makes sure that his teams’ focus is on teamwork and ethics. On campus, Gene is known for supporting students and checking in on those who might not be doing well. Recently, one of his soccer players had a sibling die and Gene went out of his way to help the student and his family; talking him through tough times and being a liaison between school and home.


Wade Morris, Lead Extended Services Assistant, Sunset Hills Elementary School

  • While obtaining his Child Development degree at SDSU, Wade has used his education and his heart to support all children. An example of his dedication is his partnership with the school Principal in developing and presenting the Healthy Choices program. This program is presented to all Sunset Hills students and encompasses things such as bullying, tattling, personal space, Character Counts and goal setting. Over the past eight years he has proven that providing children with the tools to succeed is his number one pursuit. The staff at ESS, the teachers and the admin staff all appreciate the relationships Wade has made with them as well as the children. Wade is recognized for his positive attitude every day and his genuine concern for the betterment of all children.


Karen Richcreek, Instructional Assistant II Special Education, Mesa Verde Middle School

  • Karen has been an Instructional Assistant supporting students with moderate to severe special needs in the art classroom. She is creative in modifying work according to the students’ abilities. For example, the students were assigned a project studying architecture which involved drawing detailed plans to scale, cutting with exact-o knives and using a hot glue gun. These tasks were challenging for students with limited fine motor skills, so Karen drew out a series of door and window shapes as well as a house shape. Students then selected doors and windows and planned where they wanted them to go. The students painted their own homes and the IAs then assisted by gluing the houses together. Further, Karen modified a sewing activity by bringing in special sewing needles, cutting out shapes for students from stiff felt and punching holes in the felt to assist the students in learning the sewing technique. Karen’s efforts also helped the general education students make connections with their special education peers, and provided ideas for the whole team in how to modify student work so that everyone could participate.



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