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Sunnyvale School District announces its 2016-17 Employees of the Year

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The Sunnyvale School District is proud to announce its 2016-17 Employees of the Year.

Colleen Lynch Espinoza

“Teacher of the Year”

Colleen is currently a Kindergarten teacher in the Juntos Dual Immersion Spanish Program at San Miguel Elementary School and has been teaching in the Sunnyvale School District since 2008.  She is a positive force throughout the school and she has made an impact in the district as well as the community.

Launching the Dual Immersion Juntos Program and creating positive momentum for this program has been possible due to Colleen’s dedication to the students of our community and also her supportive and collaborative approach to every single person on San Miguel’s campus.

In her classroom, students come in speaking a myriad of languages, English, Spanish, Vietnamese, and more, but the children come together to support each other in learning and developing their ability to use and manipulate the Spanish and English languages.  This is a testament to the community that Colleen builds between the walls of her classroom and how she finds strengths in every single student in her room.  Walking into her classroom, you will be greeted by smiles, songs, and students talking as they learn and grow.  Prospective parents who are looking at possible programs for their incoming kindergartener often want to sign up for Juntos as soon as they go into Colleen’s classroom.

Colleen is a talented educator who continually reflects on her teaching practice, looks at every situation with a positive outlook, advocates for her students, and creates school and classroom communities that we want for our children.  She is a genuine, thoughtful, and caring person who is extremely competent at what she does, and is always willing to share her knowledge with her co-workers.  Colleen is dedicated to her profession and truly cares about her students, always keeping student engagement a top priority.

Congratulations Colleen as this year’s Teacher of the Year!!

Patty Martinez

“Classified Employee of the Year”

Patty began as a Bilingual Para-Educator at Sunnyvale Middle School in 2006 and has been the School Administrative Assistant II at Lakewood Elementary School for the past 5 years. As a graduate of Lakewood, Patty has always taken ownership of the school and puts in 110% to ensure that things run smoothly and efficiently every day, no matter what happens. She often thinks outside the box to come up with creative solutions to makes things work. Patty works closely with the office and staff to fulfill her responsibilities with care and customer service. Above all, despite unpredictable challenges that arise each day, Patty’s flexible and proactive communication promotes and maintains a kind and inclusive community for anyone entering Lakewood’s doors.

Patty greets every person that comes in the door with a smile and a sense of caring.  She has developed a high level of mutual respect with the parent community and is a trusted ear for their concerns and needs. She often goes above and beyond to support the school’s partnership and collaboration with our community. This year she coordinated the United Way’s Make a Wish project at Lakewood, collecting gift wishes from every child at Lakewood and following up with shoe and jacket sizes for children who made those wishes. Patty’s care for our students means individualized support, sometimes including providing bowls of cereal and milk for “her boys” that need a positive start to the day. She takes temperatures, wipes tears, gives epi pen injections and bandages boo-boo’s on a daily basis.

Lakewood’s Spanish-speaking parents seek Patty out for advice and information, and she always takes the time to explain things and to check for understanding.  Her high level of customer service with the parents is just one small part of how she nurtures a productive and warm school climate. Patty is always the first to ask “How can I help?”  She makes connections with parents in the office and has helped to recruit many to get more involved in PTA and volunteering.  She started passing along names of possible parent leaders and has set up Meet & Greet opportunities for the school to reach out to new families in support of the District’s vision for parent engagement.Patty makes it a point to get to know and learn about all of the stakeholders at Lakewood. We applaud her exceptional contributions and leadership at Lakewood Elementary School and the community.

Congratulations Patty as this year’s Classified Employee of the Year!!

Catherine Plevney

“Management Team Member of the Year”

Cathie has been employed with Sunnyvale School District for the past 17 years.  She has worked in several different positions in the office at Vargas Elementary School until being promoted to the District’s Confidential Payroll Analyst in 2006.

In her current role, Cathie works with staff from various departments and school sites.  She communicates with them on a daily basis addressing issues or concerns brought to her attention and following up on a seemingly unending array of situations requiring resolution which she is highly effective at achieving.

Cathie has an extensive knowledge of payroll analysis gained from years of experience and continued education, attending meetings and workshops to further her awareness and learning, especially with regard to new laws affecting payroll. She fosters confidence among district employees because her work is impeccably trustworthy.  It is rare that an error occurs in the payroll department under Cathie’s dedicated management.

Cathie is not one to draw attention to herself but everyone is aware of her quiet leadership and the depth of character she possesses.  Her integrity, perseverance and commitment to her work are evident in the accuracy of employee payroll records.  Negotiations, district policy updates, and new laws among many other developments often cause changes to be made to employee payroll records on a monthly, sometimes weekly basis.  These changes are tedious and can be very complicated.  Cathie responds without questioning to the amount of time a project may require.  She determines what needs to be done and then does it, often taking work home.

Cathie leads in the best way possible – by example.  It goes without saying that she embodies the District’s motto, “Learn Today, Lead Tomorrow.”

Congratulations Cathie as this year’s Management Team Member of the Year!!


Contributor: Deborah Dodge, Sunnyvale School District Human Resources

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