There is a program called “Employees Making a Difference” that recognizes outstanding classified school employees; the program was established by the Stanislaus County Office of Education (SCOE) and Association of California School Administrators (ACSA) Region VII. Education employees throughout Stanislaus County were nominated for this honor and Kathy Palomino was the nominee for the Riverbank Unified School District (RUSD).
“Riverbank Unified School District is proud to have employees that care so much for our students,” stated RUSD Superintendent Christine Facella. “Kathy Palomino is certainly one of those employees who make a difference daily for the students she works with as a special education para-professional.”
She is a para-professional at Riverbank High School (RHS) and has been there for over 30 years. Currently she works in Jason Herrera’s classroom at RHS and is under a new principal this year, Greg Diaz. Palomino has seen several teachers, students, and principals make their way through RHS along with a slew of changes.
“I think that this partnership between SCOE and ACSA is incredible as it recognizes our colleagues and their importance to the service of our students,” explained Diaz. “The public tends to associate schools with teachers more often than not. The EMAD celebration allows us to highlight district employees in roles other than a classroom teacher for the integral role each plays in (the) educational process. Further, it allows us to recognize those employees who go above and beyond and truly do make a difference in the lives of the people around them. Because of all of this, Kathy Palomino was an easy choice as the RHS nominee for this year.”
Although she is a shy and humble person, Palomino was very honored to be nominated for this program, adding that it was a bit shocking. In the letter from Herrera to SCOE nominating Palomino, it stated the following: “Kathy has 30 years of educational experience as a paraprofessional working with students who have learning disabilities. I’ve been lucky to have her as the paraprofessional in my classroom for the past 12 years. She does a fabulous job in the classroom and always makes sure that students are on task and getting their work completed. Kathy knows how to get students motivated and excited in a positive way. All students and colleagues respond positively to Kathy because of her good natured and humble personality. She is someone who follows through with anything that is asked without having to be reminded. Above all, Kathy truly wants to help all students succeed not only in the classroom but in life. Mrs. Palomino is a staple at Riverbank High School and I fully believe that she sets the bar for the award of “Employees Making a Difference”.”
“In addition to that, Kathy volunteers her time outside of work to our sports teams and has been a ticket taker at events over the years,” added Facella. “It is not unusual to hear that Kathy has provided for students using her own personal funds to help those who are in need.”
There were 28 nominees from districts throughout the county. Each district is allowed to nominate a certain number of employees based on the district ADA (average daily attendance). A special reception was held on Jan. 22 at the Martin G. Petersen Event Center to honor all nominees. The event was sponsored by the Association of Stanislaus County School Boards, Atkinson Andelson Loya Ruud & Romo Law Firm and Mocse Credit Union. Sitting at Palomino’s table were Facella, Diaz, RUSD Board Member Susan Taylor, Palomino’s mother and father and close by were other family members and friends.
Palomino began her career at a school in Ceres, then spent three years at Escalon High School working with the migrant program and then moved over to RHS in 1989.
“I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else because here is home,” she said about RHS. “I got married working here; I had my four boys that went from Kindergarten on through RUSD. I have two seniors right now here.”
Receiving emails from students that she has had in the past thanking her for her assistance through their school career and helping them graduate makes it all worth it for her.
“We have good kids here,” expressed Palomino. “They know we care. It is a good school. I am so glad my kids came here.”
“Having the opportunity to recognize classified staff through the collaboration of ACSA and SCOE is something we look forward to each year,” said Facella. “The event is well planned and it is so great that not only the nominators are in attendance but the families of those recognized are there to celebrate as well. Congratulations to Kathy Palomino.”