Newport-Mesa classified workers are honored

Newport-Mesa Unified staff members celebrated the success of colleagues honored as Orange County Classified Employees of the Year during a Department of Education board meeting Wednesday.

Three of the six classified staff selected from across Orange County are Newport-Mesa employees.

"It is unusual to have three employees recognized from one district," Nora Roque, Newport-Mesa's director of classified personnel, wrote in an email. "We believe that these three employees exemplify [Newport-Mesa's] classified employee commitment to supporting the instructional program."

Jose Bedolla, a security guard at Estancia High School, Roberta Geller, head custodian at Victoria Elementary School, and Alejo Ortiz, who works as a mechanic in the transportation department, accepted their awards and posed for photos with county board members and district officials during the meeting.

Geller has worked at the district for 28 years, spending the majority of that time as a custodian at Victoria, where she's built relationships with students and their families.

When a student's mother died two years ago, Geller went out of her way to talk with the youth before school every day to help him cope and remind him that he's special, Roque wrote.

Bedolla has spent the past eight years at Newport-Mesa, assisting in employing restorative justice as well as using a variety of techniques to develop relationships with struggling students.

"He has taken it upon himself to actively seek out students throughout the day, checking in with them about grades, attendance and their general welfare," Roque wrote.

Ortiz, who has been with the district for five years, is known for his professionalism and dedication to his craft. He ensures that Newport-Mesa buses continue to receive top safety ratings.

The six nomination categories for the annual awards are child nutrition; maintenance, operations and facilities; office and technical services; para-educator and instructional assistance; support services and security; and transportation.

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