A recent board meeting in Cambria began with lots of applause, a few tears, pride, cake and plenty of accolades for retirees and selected employees and volunteers of the Coast Unified School District.
Retirees in attendance May 17 included 32-year veteran history teacher Mark Kniffen and Sharon “Cookie” Henslin and Sandra Paolini, respectively chief business official and account clerk, each with 20 years of Coast employment.
Other honorees included:
• Chris Gutierrez, Phi Delta Kappa Lay Citizen of the Year, was honored for his years spent working with youth sports activities and teams. According to district Superintendent Chris Adams, Gutierrez “was instrumental in the formation of the Cambria youth softball teams in 2004, our youth soccer leagues in 2006 and our basketball leagues in 2009.” The honoree coaches girls soccer and softball teams, and “his 8, 9, and 10-year-old girls soccer teams have amassed an amazing 31-1 record over the past three seasons.”
• Suzanne Kennedy, middle-school librarian, is an active member of various fundraising nonprofits, good-idea sparkplug and “mom to everyone … she is a treasure,” said school Principal John Calandro. Kennedy was honored as classified employee of the year.
• Toby Cinque, physical education instructor, was selected by his peers to be the district’s teacher of the year, Calandro said, but his selection was for much more than that.
“He teaches students how to work together, teamwork, kindness, how to problem solve, how to be good winners, how to be good losers, how to push themselves to be better,” even how to behave at dances and how to talk to each other. “Toby’s all about being better,” Calandro explained. “It’s all about being a good person on campus.”
•Michael Villers, stucco contractor, was honored for work he donates to the district.
Also honored were Celsa Montez and Celestino Ramirez, two of the 11 recent graduates of the district’s new Parent Shared-Leadership Training Academy. As Ramirez told the Board of Trustees, “Thanks to this class, I feel more prepared as a parent, a person and a member of the community. I promise to share this information with other parents.”
The academy is sponsored by San Luis Obispo County Child-Abuse Prevention Council and led by Maria Mendoza, family advocate and parent educator.
Honorees who couldn’t attend the ceremony included three retirees — teacher Karen Howard (23 years), bus driver Marge Goodale (16 years) and Ginger Channell, former director of maintenance (nine years) — and volunteer contractor Chris Corbet.