The following is from Tuesday's meeting of the Laguna Beach Unified School District Board of Education.
Employee of the Year
Donna Todd, the Laguna Beach High School registrar, was recognized as the 2009-10 Classified Employee of the Year, and was awarded a certificate and flowers, presented by Nancy Hubbell.
Principal Don Austin spoke of Todd's strong leadership on campus, modesty and graciousness.
"Donna is a gifted leader and problem solver who is respected by everyone who knows her," he said. "We appreciate her insightfulness and determination to always look for improvements."
Todd, whose role involves working closely with the counseling office in course scheduling, aiding students with enrollment, transcripts and the college application process, expressed her gratitude for the award and thanked the board for allowing her to have a "voice."
"I am so grateful, and this is such an honor," she said. "Thank you for allowing us to voice our opinions "” I have a lot of them!"
Counselor of the Year
Dr. Jami Parsons, an elementary school counselor at Top of the World and El Morro elementary schools for the past five years, was honored for being named as one of eight national finalists for the American School Counselor of the Year award, sponsored by the American School Counselor Assn. (ASCA).
Introduced by Irene White, Parsons also received a certificate and flowers from the board.
Following her nomination by Assistant Supt. Nancy Hubbell and Vicki Walker, Parsons completed seven writing assignments and submitted a video application, which was reviewed by ASCA's Executive Board, and picked among seven other finalists.
She will travel to Washington at the end of the month to meet with members of Congress, the Department of Education and ASCA's executive board, where she and the other finalists will provide feedback on best practices and what is working in education, and the top finalist will be selected.
Parsons previously served as the assistant principal at Thurston Middle School and Laguna Beach High.
Parsons thanked the board for their continued support in prevention, intervention and all that she does as a school counselor.
George and Karen Champ, parents of three children at Top of the World Elementary, addressed the board with concerns regarding "bell-to-bell instruction, customer service and the process of searching for a new district superintendent."
"The district has lost its way," Karen Champ said, as she voiced concerns about the level to which teachers are truly reaching students and not being acknowledged or taken seriously by the board members.
She also shared her disappointment with the lack of "focus on the kids," while the school board and staff are "praising each other" for their own great accomplishments.
She concluded by asking that the board reassess its priorities while searching for a new superintendent.
"We need someone who lives in this town and is a part of this community full time," she said. "I also ask that the information throughout this search be shared with the public."
Clerk Theresa O'Hare later commented that all meetings in regard to this process would, in fact, be open to the public.
LBHS food drive
Student Representative Lauren Slater announced that the high school collected 1,300 pounds of food in its food drive competition last month, with seniors donating the most, beating out the staff.
Naming of LBHS track
The board approved the proposal to appoint an Ad-Hoc Citizen Advisory Committee to review a proposal to name the track at Laguna Beach High after deceased alumnus and legendary runner Eric Hulst.
The district agreed to move forward with the process after receiving a letter from Principal Don Austin, making the request.
In his letter, Austin talked about Hulst's passion and record-breaking accomplishments as an athlete in the 1970s, which to this day, have never been broken.
"We [at the school] firmly believe that this tribute is consistent with our dedication to honoring the history of our school. The naming of our track would provide another opportunity to impress upon our students the importance of tradition and rewarding extraordinary accomplishments," he wrote.
The naming would have no impact on "Guyer Field."