Newport-Mesa employees honored

Well-wishers and friends packed into the Newport-Mesa Unified School District's board chambers Tuesday night to honor the district's teachers and classified employees of the year.

Mary Widtmann, who teaches a fourth- and fifth-grade combination class, and Kathy Evans, who teaches science at Back Bay High School, were recognized for their work in the classroom.

Widtmann and Evans will now serve as Newport-Mesa's nominees for the Orange County Department of Education's Teacher of the Year, who represents the county at the state level.

Six employees from around the district were also honored for contributions to the Newport-Mesa community in their respective fields. The employees will be eligible to represent Orange County in the California School Employee of the Year program.

Maria "Carmen" Suarez, a nutrition services assistant who works in the district's central kitchen, was recognized for her work in child nutrition.

Erin Bernardi, a special-education instructional assistant at Newport Harbor High School, was recognized for her work as a para-educator.

Roberta Geller, head custodian of Victoria Elementary School, was nominated for her work in maintenance and operations.

Alejo Ortiz, a vehicle equipment mechanic for the district, was honored for work in the transportation field.

Jose Bedolla, who works on campus security at Estancia High School, was the district's support services and security category nominee.

Pam Bertsch, an administrative assistant at Lincoln Elementary School, was honored in the office and technical category.

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