Two local school employees are moving on to represent Stanislaus County in the California Department of Education’s statewide recognition program for those who truly make a difference on campus.
Turlock Adult School para-professional Leada Allahwerdi and Chatom Union School District school bus driver/yard supervisor Isela Rosales were honored on Jan. 21 as two of 26 honorees during the Stanislaus County Office of Education’s 14th annual “Employees Making a Difference” ceremony, which recognizes outstanding classified (non-supervisory) education employees throughout the county.
The group also included nominees from Fusion Charter School, Osborn Two-Way Immersion Academy, Turlock Junior High School and Keyes Union School District, however, Allahwerdi and Rosales were included in the five honorees chosen to move forward in their respective categories to the statewide program.
“I am very honored to have this recognition, not only for myself, but for my family too. I feel privileged to work for Chatom Union School District and will always continue to work hard and give back to my community. Each day I look forward to putting a smile on our students’ faces and being a positive influence,” Rosales said.
Chatom Elementary School principal Sara Cruz told the Journal she was proud of Rosales for moving on to the state level for the transportation category, noting that the 18-year Chatom employee is deserving of the recognition. In her letter nominating Rosales, Cruz noted that she has not only developed a reputation as a safe and reliable driver over the years, but also one as a positive role model for students.
Rosales is also known for “adopting” families in need during the holidays, and always goes above and beyond her call to duty when it comes to kindness.
“As a bus driver, she knows the students and their families. She makes sure to make personal connections, and in return families know their child will make it home safe with her. She is great at managing student behavior and they truly love and respect her,” Cruz wrote. “Ms. Rosales goes above and beyond and can identify if a student on her bus is having a challenging day. She makes sure they know she cares and helps turn their day around in a positive way.”
At Turlock Adult School, Allahwerdi has served as a dedicated para-professional for the past 23 years but her journey first began as an English-learning student at the school herself. Since then, her dream of learning English and attending college was realized, resulting in a career that sees Allahwerdi do whatever it takes for the success of Turlock Adult School.
“As soon as she had sufficiently mastered the English language, she began to petition the school administration for a job. Initially told no, she refused to give up and continued to advocate for herself. Luckily for us, she was successful in that endeavor, as she has been in the many challenges she has undertaken in her adoptive country,” Turlock Adult School administrative secretary Stacey Gillen wrote. “Leada knows well the value of education and the impact it can have on a person’s life. She tirelessly encourages our students to keep going, to try a little harder, to believe in themselves. She is an outstanding example of what can be accomplished through hard work, faith in oneself, and a willingness to reach out to others.”
Allahwerdi has been diagnosed with cancer several times over the years, but has continued to work as long as she is able. She also serves as a council member and was a past president of her church’s women’s auxiliary. According to Gillen, Allahwerdi is “loved by all.”
Allahwerdi and Rosales will be honored during the state’s 2021 Classified School Employees of the Year Program this spring with other county nominees from throughout California.