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Sunnyvale School District Recognizes 2018-2019 Employees of the Year

The Sunnyvale School District is proud to announce its 2018-19 Employees of the Year.

Chin Chin Chiu

Management Team Member of the Year

Chin Chin continues to strive for excellence in behavioral best practices and leads by example in lifelong learning. She supervises managers as well as classified staff from an empowering perspective. Chin Chin directs the Behavior Intervention Services as well as coordinating and supporting the Positive Behavior Intervention Support (PBIS) and Multi-tiered Support System (MTSS) efforts for the entire district while carrying a caseload. She is an amazing resource, consultant and a “big-picture-thinker” about what students needs are and what our staff needs to help our students.

Chin Chin’s caring heart embraces each new challenge as she builds capacity not only within her own department but at the site levels as well. She is always willing to lend a helping hand and joins several committees in the district to continue to evolve Sunnyvale’s efforts in educating the whole child. Chin Chin always remains calm; she can support difficult and challenging conversations with sensitivity and grace.

Chin Chin excels in leadership with a strengths-based approach. Her exceptional planning and organizational strategies based on data and outcomes make her a much-needed asset on any team. Chin Chin seeks collaborative solutions building with individuals and teams to problem solve through challenges on both site and district levels. She embodies perseverance. Chin Chin is a trusted team leader and exemplifies Sunnyvale’s vision.

Alka Sharma

Classified Employee of the Year

Alka came into Sunnyvale Middle School new to being in the library. She quickly got up to speed on all of the requirements of the Learning Resource Center Specialist position and worked to shift the culture of the library to a student-centered and student-friendly environment. On any given day the library is used by teachers and students through class visits and is the first choice for many students to spend their lunch or brunch. She is welcoming to all students and welcomes them to read, play cards, play board games or just relax in a safe setting.

Alka is the first stop for many staff members with questions about high-interest books for students and to help coordinate textbooks and workbooks everyone with a smile on her face making you feel like she is always happy to see you. The library is a multi-use space at SMS and Alka shows great flexibility. She understands the needs of teachers to have space for students to work and do research and strives to maintain a schedule that can meet both teacher needs and student needs.

Alka can be counted on to achieve any task successfully and quickly. While she is diligent in her work with textbooks and circulation needs, it is her passion to connect students to personal reading and her commitment to creating a student-centered space that defines her work and drives her ability to make things happen in the library. She is collaborative with her colleagues, is detail-oriented, and efficient in all that she does.

Mary Grace Votran

Teacher of the Year

Mary Grace is a rock star in the classroom, and the epitome of a “warm demander.” Students know she cares about them, and that because she cares about them, she won’t tolerate anything less than their best.

Mary Grace is responsive to student and staff needs. She has modified our reading intervention program to ensure students are invested and engaged. She created a new English Language Support class for our long-term English learners that allow them to practice language skills through topics such as identity, grit, and goals. Other teachers look to Mary Grace as a model and source of support.

Mary Grace feels immense ownership and responsibility for her students’ growth. She regularly looks at student data and alters course accordingly. There is no time wasted in Mary Grace’s class as students are continuously pushed to be better than they were the day before. For many students, Mary Grace’s classroom is their “home away from home” as she has created a community that supports each other, and is responsible for each other. If we could clone Mary Grace, we would!


Congratulations to those listed below for their years of service and dedication to the Sunnyvale School District who will be retiring at the end of the year. We will miss you!

  • Cheryl Armstrong, 11 years
  • Pamela Baptist, 17 years
  • Michael Hauser, 23 years
  • Amjad Khan, 20 years
  • Serafina Lawrence, 23 years
  • Anita Lee, 22 years
  • Debra Mangan, 17 years
  • Eileen Mendez, 34 years
  • Judy Moniz, 16 years
  • Eva Paz, 18 years
  • Heidi Vuong, 13 years
  • Lea Ziklik, 26 years

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