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Graduation Ceremony Planned Aug. 1 At RHS
RUSD
Members of the CSEA Chapter 31 in Riverbank reached a tentative contract agreement with the Riverbank Unified School District. Members of the Riverbank Teachers Association and RUSD are still in mediation. Virginia Still/The News
Araseli Zamora
Araseli Zamora
Kevin Bizzini
Kevin Bizzini

Although the 2019-20 school year is officially over, Riverbank Unified School District (RUSD) has had a busy June. With a teacher being called out for inappropriate postings, a graduation ceremony announced, retirements, a board member resignation, and ACSA Awards, there has been a lot going on in the district.

RUSD recently announced that they intend on hosting a graduation ceremony on Aug. 1 for Riverbank High School’s Class of 2020. The announcement was sent out to RHS families on June 9 with a cautionary statement that it will only proceed with the graduation plans as long there is not an increase in coronavirus cases. RHS seniors will be allowed two guests to the in person ceremony. They plan to use the social distancing guidelines and the community will be able to view the graduation online. Adelante High School graduates will be included in the ceremony as well which may continue as a joint graduation in the future.

“Thanks to everyone for their patience during this unprecedented situation,” stated RUSD Superintendent Christine Facella.

Earlier this month the district also sent out a notice to families about a complaint made against an RHS history teacher for posting inappropriate things on Facebook. The notice from RUSD was also posted on the district website and social media sites. The letter stated that “the District vehemently denounces racism and embraces the diversity and inclusion of all people. During these challenging times, as a District, we continue to be sympathetic, understanding, and diligent in our work to ensure the safety and well-being of our students, staff, and families.”

Several people reported that they were disturbed by the posts and complaints were made to the district to have the teacher fired. The posts were removed quickly from the teacher’s page after the complaints were made. According to school officials the teacher has retired and will no longer be teaching at RHS.

On June 2 at the regular board meeting held on Zoom, certificated staff members James Boardman, Gail Forest, and Bridget Price as well as classified staffers Cindy Brannon, DeLayne Coker, Diana Gonzalez, Maria Lopez, Therese McHugh, and Colleen Nabors were recognized for their retirement.

The annual ACSA awards are usually held at a spring conference in Lake Tahoe in May but due to COVID-19 the conference scheduled for May 1 through 3 was canceled. There may be an awards ceremony to recognize all Region 7 honorees in the near future. There are over 700 educational leaders affiliated with Region 7 which consists of Amador, Calaveras, Tuolumne, San Joaquin and Stanislaus counties.

During the Zoom meeting Cardozo Middle School Principal Kevin Bizzini was recognized for receiving ACSA (Association of California School Administrators) Award for Middle Grades Principal of the Year for Region 7.

Bizzini started his career in education with RUSD and has been an administrator since the 2009-10 school year. He was the Assistant Principal at Cardozo for the first two years and has been the Principal for the past nine years.

“RUSD has always put a premium effort toward building capacity of its certificated and classified personnel,” said Bizzini. “District support for me, as a new administrator, was invaluable. To be recognized as the Middle School Administrator of the Year is a satisfying honor and a reflection of the support I am surrounded by.”

The school year has been challenging with the disruption from the pandemic and there are many unanswered questions of what the 2020-21 school year will look like but educators are hopeful.

“I truly enjoy working with teachers, district and county office personnel, students, and community members to create and maintain a quality educational experience for our students,” added Bizzini. “But I would have to say that my best days are when I get the opportunity to get into classrooms and observe students in the throws of learning. Often, I face situations where a sub may not show to cover a class for a teacher that is away; I jump at those opportunities (when possible) to put my teaching hat back on and work with groups of students. I also have a very dedicated staff and I like to think that I support them by leading by example.”

RUSD Program/Grant Manager, Araseli Zamora was recognized as well for Classified Educational Leader of the Year.

“I do not like being the spotlight of attention, so while it’s appreciated and feels good, it’s a bit out of my comfort zone,” stated Zamora. “I am thankful to my staff and support team for making this a positive journey.”

In her position Zamora supervises CASA del Rio Family Resource Center and manages the After School Program, Adult Education, Healthy Start, and RAIZ Promotores Mental Health Prevention Program.

“While I am in the field of education my work is more focused on improving the well-being of the children, families, and the community by providing increased access to resources and services that support health, wellness, and education,” added Zamora. “I love what I do, and have awesome staff, and support team that makes my accomplishments possible.”

Zamora has been with RUSD since 2016 and has been the Treasurer for ACSA Stanislaus Charter since July 2018. She completed ACSA Business Academy in April 2018 and has a Business Management and Master’s in Business Administration.

“My favorite part of the job is the impact that CASA has on the families and community, and that not one day is the same,” expressed Zamora. “I love managing the business operations of CASA plus still being able to engage and be part of many activities and events. I love my working team, love being myself, and love that I can relate to the Riverbank community.”