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School district trustees bid farewell after years of service
Eileen Hamilton
Eileen Hamilton

Although Eileen Hamilton attended her last Turlock Unified School District Board of Trustees meeting earlier this month, she assured everyone that she was not going anywhere anytime soon.

“It’s a bittersweet moment,” said Hamilton. “I still might come see the schools and visit you guys. I love seeing the kids at school and I love visiting all of the principals and teachers.

“Don’t hesitate to ask me to come back to read to the kids because I love to do that,” added Hamilton.

Over the past eight years, TUSD Board President Frank Lima said that Hamilton has played a critical role in the District’s decision-making process that has been challenged with a new budget process and national standards.

Hamilton advocated for programs such as Outdoor Education and the TUSD music program, which were at risk during tough budgetary times. She also played a significant role in implementing the STEM program and robotics program.

“Eileen’s decisions have not only been governed with a business sense of mind, but also with sensitivity towards all walks of students, parents and staff,” said Lima.

Among other things, Lima commended Hamilton for her “constant diligence” in visiting every District school site every year.

“She makes us all look bad because she’s always visiting the sites, and for us who can’t be there all the time, at least we’re grateful that Eileen is out there advocating for everyone all the time,” said Lima.

Harinder Grewal also attended his last meeting as a trustee after joining the TUSD Board of Trustees in 2011. At the time, Grewal brought with him a broad perspective from over 20 years of leadership experience and during his tenure, Lima said that Grewal advocated for students, staff and parents alike.

“I’ll tell you any time we get into the periods for negotiations each year, he’s always asking about all employees—the least advantaged, the most advantaged,” said Lima. “He’s always looking out for the best interests of students in this district.”

Lima said that Grewal took a “common sense approach” in prioritizing District expenditures and reserve levels, as well as played a role in supporting various TUSD modernization projects and the implementation of the Chaplaincy program. He was also instrumental in the selection of TUSD’s interim superintendent Dana Salles Trevethan and two Board provisional appointments earlier this year.

“A great deal has been achieved through his participation on the Board,” said Lima. “We thank Dr. Grewal for his service and dedication to the TUSD Board of Trustees and wish him well on his future endeavors.”

Grewal said that he decided to not run again for TUSD two years ago after he lost the California State Assembly District 12 election.

“My ambitions are different and I am working hard to achieve my goals and fulfill my dreams,” said Grewal. “I strongly believe that I need to focus on my one goal and that is California State Assembly District 12.”

Denair Unified School District also bid farewell to Carolyn Brown, who served on the Board of Trustees for nearly three decades.

Throughout her tenure, Brown helped increase academic achievement, assisted in the passage two bonds to build beautiful new facilities and played a vital role in restoring community pride.  As a trustee, Brown watched as Denair High School grew with new classrooms, a gym and event center, drama area, cafeteria and library. She also served on the Board when the new middle school campus and fitness centers were built.

Brown also helped DUSD recover from various controversies, including when a middle school student was told not to fly an American flag on his bicycle in 2010 and when the District was threatened with a state takeover in 2012.

“I wasn’t going to run four years ago, but at that time, I felt like I needed to because we had a lot of turnover and there needed to be stability,” said Brown. “When we went through financial problems, as awful and horrible as that was, I was glad I was there for that.”

“We had some difficult times, but it’s like family—you stick together. You keep focusing on the kids. It makes it easier to figure out what to do,” continued Brown.

Similar to Hamilton, Brown said that she still wants to be involved at DUSD following her retirement from the Board.