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Employee Recognition

RAVE: Recognizing All Valuable Employees

Education is a people business – we are only as strong as the people who work with our students and keep our schools and offices open and running every day. This page is an opportunity to recognize some of our many outstanding employees for their commitment to education, their skill, and/ or their willingness to go above and beyond on behalf of our students and our colleagues.

For more information about the RAVE nomination process and awards, please review the RAVE FAQ document.

Nomination Forms

You can nominate any district employee for recognition (except for yourself). Nominated and approved employees will be highlighted on this page. All approved nominees are considered for formal recognition by the Superintendent and Board of Education, as long as they continue to be active employees in good standing.

Do you know of any SFUSD employees (individuals or teams) who make a difference and are exemplary models of our core values? Click here to nominate them!


Featured Employee RAVE!

RAVE Winner Rachael Spillard with Susan Saunders, Hydra Mendoza-McDonnell and Vince Matthews

Rachael Spillard, Science Teacher and Department Chair - George Washington High School - Distinguished Service Award Winner for April 2018

"Rachael is not only a dynamic and dedicated classroom teacher, she is also our department chair who goes above and beyond to support us in our work as teachers. Whether it's taking care of the budget, organizing haz-mat pick ups, or advocating for science with administration, Rachael takes care of the details of running the department so we can focus on our classrooms. On top of that, she is highly involved with activities on campus from social committee to robotics club - Rachael really does it all!" - Nominated 05/2017

View Past Featured RAVE's here.

Budget & Accounting Teams - Business Services Division

"I've been the clerk at an elementary school for the past three years and it seems like this year the Accounting and Budget departments are stepping up their game in responding to our requests. What used to take days or weeks now takes hours or days. That means that we don't have to keep checking over and over again to see if requests have been actioned/ approved, and can quickly move on to the next step in a contract/k-reso process, purchase order or invoice payment. It may not seem like much, but it's had a noticeable impact on my job here in an elementary school office. Thank you." - Nominated 05/2018

Sara Saldaña, Site Director, NT3 & Program Coordinator, SFUSD National Board Support Program - Office of Professional Learning & Leadership, Curriculum & Instruction

"I am nominating Sara Saldaña for a RAVE award, because she has single-handedly increased the number of National Board Certified Teachers in SFUSD, and created an in-house support program to keep increasing the number of accomplished teachers within our district. She sees the strengths in a wide range of educators, and brings them together to increase teacher leadership, and student learning. Sara is incredibly nurturing and supportive as a mentor. She has amazing dedication to the improvement of our profession, to the benefit of all." - Nominated 05/2018

Steve Laliberte, RSP Teacher - S.F. Public Montessori School

"He is encouraging and supportive and my son says he likes working with Mr. Laliberte because he likes the way he explains things to him in a way that can understand. He takes things my son is interested in and incorporates them into his work. My son knew there was an award that teachers can be nominated for and he came to me and asked me 'if we could nominate Mr. Laliberte for an award because he definitely deserves one.' Those were my son’s exact words." - Nominated 05/2018

Jennifer Comeans, TSA / Literacy Coach - Dr. George Washington Carver Elementary School - Distinguished Service Award Winner for April 2018

"In the past 24 hours, Jennifer spearheaded our annual Literacy Night, participated in Instructional Rounds, and facilitated PD for our staff. For Literacy Night, she recruited teachers to volunteer, found most of the activities for each teacher to lead, made copies and collected materials for the evening. The event was well organized and well attended with happy children and families. Then this morning she participated in instructional rounds at our site: observing teachers and students and debriefing with a group of principals. This afternoon, she led our staff through a writing pd that introduced them to a new resource, honed their skills in looking at student work, and provided planning time. These events were heavy lifts and Jennifer takes them with stride: always being professional, modeling leadership, and being a support to both adults and students." - Nominated 02/2017

Asya Landa, Chemistry Teacher - Abraham Lincoln High School

"The student feedback: The latest came from Pamela Aamechi, who graduated last year and is currently at Princeton with a GPA of 3.33 and who wanted to specifically thank Ms. Landa. Last year when Pamela was on the SSC she raved about Ms. Landa's grading,the fairness and Ms. Landa's ability to explain this. This is not the first time. Several years ago a Spanish speaking Newcomer student (currently a graduate of San Jose State) gave us feedback on how she encouraged, and at the same time held high expectations. At one time he wanted to switch to an easier major and he remembered Ms. Landa and he did graduate with his engineering degree." - Nominated 04/2018

Adelina Duncan, Family Liaison - Mission Education Center

"Adelina Duncan is helping some of San Francisco's most vulnerable inhabitants, young new immigrants, plan and save for a positive future that includes a college education. She supports families across all grade levels and organizes events for both parents and students to engage them with saving for college. She works with teachers to arrange field trips and coordinates with K2C staff and community partners to make sure students at Mission Education Center receive the resources and support to make these field trips successful. Ms. Duncan is bright, warm, and friendly and truly cares about the futures of families who go through her school." - Nominated 04/2018

Melinda Carpenter, Kindergarten Teacher - Visitacion Valley Elementary School

"Melinda Carpenter is championing college saving and a college-going culture at Visitacion Valley Elementary, not just for her classroom but for the entire school. In addition to her teaching responsibilities, she is serving as a Kindergarten to College (K2C) School Ambassador, volunteering her time and talents to help engage families and students in planning for college and career from Kindergarten on. Under Ms. Carpenters supervision, guidance, and coordination, Visitacion Valley's "Saver Rate" [grew] from 9.5% to over 50% in a single day." - Nominated 04/2018

Xiu-Qiong (Joan) Cai, Cafeteria Staff - Junipero Serra Elementary School/ Student Nutrition Services

"Joan goes above and beyond every day to serve our students. Our breakfast and lunch periods are always orderly, neat, and easy for students to navigate independently. When applicable, she cuts fruit to make it easy and more appealing for students and assists us with making sure every child has breakfast, even when he or she arrives after breakfast is over. Joan is a huge support with field trip lunches, assisting teachers with getting their requests in on time and helping organize the lunches for easy transport. She always has a smile and a kind word for staff and students." - Nominated 04/2018

Technovation Team (Jacob Aringo and Yesenia Castro-Mitchell) - Hoover Middle School

"A project that highlights this team’s ability to work together effectively is the Technovation class offered during advisory. Mr. Jacob Aringo and Ms. Yesenia Castro-Mitchell co-teach the class. They work with volunteers from Salesforce and a global network that connects young learners with opportunities to
develop applications on a computer or tablet that will go toward solving a problemin our society or globally. Together they troubleshoot problems and come up with solutions, as well as facilitate a room full of middle school girls with the ability to create and build applications." - Nominated 04/2018

Alice Lin-Tay, School Secretary - Tenderloin Community School - Distinguished Service Award Winner for March 2018

"Some of the positive qualities that distinguish Alice's work are her kindness, thoughtfulness, consideration of others, and 'can do' attitude. Alice treats all families, students, and staff with respect. As busy as she is, she takes the time to do nice things for others. On the Friday before school started, when teachers were busily setting up their classrooms, Alice made an announcement that there was food in the staff lounge if anyone was interested. Tenderloin serves vulnerable families, and takes the time to support and assist them." - Nominated 08/2017

Candy Lee, Classroom Teacher - Chinese Education Center - Special Service Award Winner for March 2018

"Candy Lee is an outstanding classroom teacher and teacher leader at CEC. Another distinction is that she has come full-circle in her career because she attended the Chinese Education Center as a student when she first entered the United States as a newcomer herself. Recently, Ms. Lee was selected to receive a Fulbright Scholarship to work in Taiwan next year. Amidst our country's current political state of literally and figuratively building walls, Ms. Lee will be actively building a bridge when she begins her work as a Fulbright Scholar in Taiwan. All of us in the CEC school community stand so deeply proud of her accomplishments as a teacher, a teacher leader, and now, as a Fulbright Scholar. " - Nominated 03/2017

Darya Soofi, Conservation Manager - Sustainability Office

"The Earth Day Every Day Challenge is successful in huge part because of Darya. Every day in the office she is looking for ways to make this program fun and educational for our students. I look forward to checking the leader board just to see where my schools are on the board. Earth Day Every Day is so much fun and easy to participate and Darya makes that happen. She does this job with a smile on her face always. I know this program will be a huge success in large part due to her and her love for our EARTH!" - Nominated 03/2018

David Lanham, Operations Manager - Department of Technology

"David manages the "loaner carts" of computers that schools use for state "Smarter Balanced" testing - he keeps track of and maintains the carts and devices, delivering heavy carts on a very tight schedule, and makes the state testing go much smoother for all SFUSD schools. It would be hard to accomplish Smarter Balanced testing in SFUSD without his work. [He is] very positive and helpful, extremely reliable and dependable." - Nominated 03/2018

Geraldine Frye, Teacher - Ulloa Elementary School

"Ms. Frye was my son's third grade teacher and she is the quintessential hidden gem at Ulloa. Her teaching style was creative, considering that the kids were going through Common Core and the subject matter was challenging. She made sure to treat the students as individuals and catered towards their specific needs in the classroom. Ms. Frye pointed out exactly what aspects of my son were his assets and where he needed improvement. She was patient and considerate toward all kids and made sure to include fun activities along with serious learning experiences." - Nominated 03/2018

Nikhil Laud, Social Studies Teacher/ Social Studies Department Head - Balboa High School

"Nikhil truly brings his full self into his teaching, whether in the form of theatrical production, detailed emotionally-motivating lectures and direct instruction, or check-ins with students. A visit to Nikhil Laud's class is an exciting one. You can see him in historic era costume facilitating evidence-based debates on big philosophical and moral questions, where students take on the concerns of a particular group impacted by a historical event." - Nominated 03/2018

Christine Dreith, Teacher - Miraloma Elementary School

"Christine is a wonderful teacher. Christine started at Miraloma as a paraprofessional. She is now a teacher for grades 3-5 SDC in SY 2017-18. Most of Christine's students are autistic. When I pass by her classroom, I see students who are engaged and learning. The paraprofessionals are helping students learn -- everyone is focused and on task. Even when a student is having a frustrating setback -- which happens every day -- she is able to get them back on track. She keeps her cool, and her calm voice and manner sets the tone to assure all the kids that her classroom is a safe place." - Nominated 03/2018

Jennifer Kabbabe, Special Education Transition Teacher - ACCESS SFUSD: The Arc

"Jen Kabbabe is the epitome of a fabulous teacher. Jen’s care for her students goes beyond the school day into helping them schedule doctor appointments and coordinate with outside agencies for support. She has a holistic approach to teaching that sees the whole student, not just the educational component. Her dedication to transitional aged youth with disabilities is apparent in everything she does." - Nominated 03/2018

Lamar Williams, Security Aide (T10) - The Academy/ Ruth Asawa School of the Arts

"This employee turned a very dangerous situation into a positive outcome without the loss of life or great injury to others. SFPD credits the heroic actions of Lamar to keeping this situation contained and without escalating it. Lamar builds great relationships with students, which makes actions like this possible. The student trusted in Lamar, leading to surrender without incident." - Nominated 03/2018

Joel Velasquez, School Secretary - Rooftop Community School, Burnett Campus

"Joel performs his duties on a daily basis while wearing many hats. His regular hat, school secretary, his nursing hat, every booboo that needs a band aid or knee that needs an ice pack goes through Joel. He is also in charge of the magic thermometer that makes tummy aches and headaches incredibly disappear. He wears the hat of copy machine master, he knows all the ins and outs of our over used copy machine and can make homework of 24 pages for 32 students in the blink of an eye. He also wears the caregiver hat - often children visit the office just to get a hug from Joel. Joel Velasquez goes above and beyond what his job description reads. He truly cares about this school and the people in it." - Nominated 03/2018

Nercy Arias, RSP Teacher Mild/ Moderate - John Muir Elementary School

"Nercy is a virtuoso at all elements of teaching -- she projects calm, compassion and skill, whether helping a kindergartener through a tantrum, or helping a young adult through early literacy. She is relentlessly positive and resilient with her colleagues, and sets a tone of camaraderie and shared purpose. She is an encyclopedia of SPED knowledge matched only by the "Resources" section of SEIS." - Nominated 03/2018

Career Technical Education (Esther Flores, Rubie Macaraeg, Emily Van Dyke, Erik Rice) - Curriculum & Instruction/ College & Career Readiness

"[The CTE team] has been extremely supportive, open to growth, and they have worked hard to support teachers in CTE particularly the Educator Pathway. I would not have been able to do half of the work that I have done had it not been for the support of the people on this team." - Nominated 03/2018

Pre-K Team (Danielle Lurie, Haiyang Yu, Ana Roblero, Monica Mendoza) - Rooftop Community School - Distinguished Service Award Winner for February 2018

"As the parent of a child with an IEP, I cannot emphasize enough how valuable and reassuring this sense of being involved on a daily basis in my child’s education is. The Rooftop preschool teachers have always been open to my suggestions regarding my child’s education and have shown a flexibility regarding my child’s varying support needs that allows them to adjust their approach from day-to-day. Both teachers have always been responsive to email questions and suggestions and have made themselves available for short meetings outside of school time. " - Nominated 2 times 05/2017

William Patterson, Special Education Teacher - Ruth Asawa School of the Arts - Special Service Award Winner for February 2018

"Will is consistently advocating and planning for our students. He is proactive about keeping his students engaged in their classes and working with teachers to find ways to better support his students. His discussions in IEP meetings are never just about getting the student through the individual issues they might be facing at that moment, but always looking to prepare them for a fulfilling life after they leave SOTA." - Nominated 02/2017

Josie Varona, Literacy Coach - E.R. Taylor Elementary School

"Josie came to ER Taylor to work with students and teachers supporting the Comprehensive Approach to Literacy. She has seamlessly developed working groups for our neediest readers, long-term ELs and newcomers, all while coaching and supporting teachers. She has a no-nonsense approach to all work, and behaviors that come her way. Additionally, she is flexible and willing to try new things (e.g., 10-minute 1:1 with challenging students, alternative seating, etc.) to support growth for all. Above all, she is knowledgeable, approachable and fun to work with." - Nominated 02/2018

Yunsi (Cecilia) Li, Family Liaison - Chinese Education Center

"CEC is a one-year school. Each year new families go into CEC. Compared to other schools, there is no continuity of the SSC or ELAC, as parents are all switched to new schools at the end of the year. Therefore, the family engagement every year is anew start. This challenge is different from other schools, but Cecilia takes on this challenge every year, and does a fabulous job engaging parents at the school and having them as partners." - Nominated 02/2018

Cynthia Vaughn, 1st Grade Teacher - Rooftop Community School

"Throughout all my schooling (including grad school), and my children's education both at Rooftop and local private schools, I have never seen a teacher who is so perfectly suited for what she is doing, and who is like a maestro with her students. Over the several times I have been in Ms. Vaughn's class, I was amazed not simply with her deep and sincere love for the children, which a lot of teachers have, but more so with how she conducted her class like a symphony. She had the right tone, the temperament and the right cadence. She split her teaching time brilliantly into equal doses of leaning, limits and laughter. The children all learned, laughed and loved her - and so did we." - Nominated 02/2018 and 03/2018

Sue Mocklin, Middle School Teacher - Rooftop Community School

"She is a great teacher/person and I get a vibe that she really cares. [She is] great with parent student communication." - Nominated 02/2018

Julia Smith, 1st Grade Teacher - Rooftop Community School

"I have never seen a person so genuinely dedicated to the success of each one of her kids in her classrooms. She is constantly going above and beyond in so many ways. She connects with students in her classroom immensely, handing out hand written notes everyday to kids with a quick “pick me up” which one parent said 'goes right above their bed and stays there for them to see everyday.' Julia is an inspiration to me and all at Rooftop!" - Nominated 02/2018 (also nominated 12/2017)

James Robertson, Computer Science & Robotics Teacher - Willie L. Brown Middle School

"Mr. Robertson is one of the most dedicated teachers I know. He works 70-hour weeks to make sure that his students have the tools they need to succeed and beat the challenges they might face based on the zip code where their home is. Every day he develops and teaches high-quality lessons around robotics and computer science that students can't wait to be in class for. His classroom is always open after school so there is time for students to continue the work on their robotics projects." - Nominated 02/2018

Multilingual Pathways Department - Curriculum & Instruction

"We have been impressed with this team for their responsive, caring attitude and willingness to go the extra mile. They are a very dedicated staff that does a lot with relatively few people." - Nominated 02/2018

Ryan Swick, Kindergarten Teacher - Harvey Milk Civil Rights Academy

"Our daughter has thrived in Mr. Swick's classroom. She is excited to be at school, she's excited to learn, and she brings home ideas, concepts, and vocabulary that I never would have expected from Kindergarten. Mr. Swick is approachable, fun, and exceptionally hard-working. We as parents, and as a school community, are fortunate to have him in our lives!" - Nominated 02/2018

Roberto Hernandez, 4th + 5th Grade Teacher - Leonard R. Flynn Elementary School - Special Service Award Winner for January 2018

"He teaches them to be excellent learners and also to be thoughtful young people committed to social justice. He does this by motivating each student by his own deep enthusiasm for learning and for doing what is right. My daughter once told me "Mr. H. doesn't treat us like little children. He respects us and that makes us want to do even better". - Nominated 01/2017

Tara Castro, 8th Grade ELA Teacher - A.P. Giannini Middle School

"Ms. Castro is extremely humble and always strives to deepen her practice without anyneed for recognition. She is selfless and spends countless hours meeting with hercolleagues before and after school to support their growth as educators. She is tirelessin her pursuit to create deeper collaboration amongst her colleagues in support ofstudent learning outcomes." - Nominated 01/2018

Rafael Frias, Attendance Liaison - John Muir Elementary School

"Mr. Frias has built relationships with families and students alike. He will do home visits and finds out what families need to ensure that our students come to school on time. His dedication to the families and school is amazing. He is a role model and is dressed for success every day. Students and staff can depend on Mr. Frias to hold high expectations for us as he does for himself. We are so fortunate to have Mr. Frias at our school!" - Nominated 01/2018

Christina Huizar, TSA Literacy Coach/ Literacy Intervention Specialist - Tenderloin Community School

"Christina has a positive attitude, remains cool, calm and collected in the fact of challenges, and is passionate about sharing her love of literacy with others. She is student-focused, collaborative, and is incredibly kind and generous in sharing her time and talents with others. Christina's actions and words demonstrate her commitment to social justice and equity." - Nominated 01/2018

Tammy Yan, Resource Specialist Program Teacher - Gordon J. Lau Elementary School

"A positive quality that makes [Tammy] exceptional as an RSP teacher is her kindness towards our students, even when some behave aggressively towards her. She is calm and supportive, especially when students are challenging and don’t listen. She is respectful and will never discuss issues or concerns about any student or staff members with others. As a staff member, she is hardworking, thoughtful, efficient, funny and uplifting when morale is low. She is truly a role model for staff and students, alike." - Nominated 01/2018

Shellie Wiener, Secretary - Alamo Elementary School

Shellie is "an over-achiever in all she does. [She] makes sure all decisions are only in the best interest of the school's parents and students. She multi-tasks and gets it all done!" - Nominated 01/2018