It takes motivation and hard work to be successful. Take the examples of Jesse Venegas, Bertha Arreguin, and Marcus Wilkerson–individuals who overcame adversity to become distinguished scholars and educators.
“You can do whatever you want to do, as long as you work,” said Venegas, a Mathematics teacher at Arroyo Valley High School. “Show your students that you care and they will work for you, they will care for you.”
Arreguin, Venegas, and Wilkerson were three of eight educators and community advocates that received recognition from the San Bernardino County Superintendent of Schools and the San Bernardino County School Boards Association during their 2016 Spring Awards at the Sierra Lakes Golf Club in Fontana on Thursday.
Each year, the two agencies recognizes individuals and groups who give outstanding service and support to public education.
“These individuals and groups have dedicated their time and energy to supporting students and our public schools across our county,” County Superintendent Ted Alejandre said in a press statement. “They belong to an exemplary fraternity of those who have served as models as Education Medal of Honor recipients.”
The Distinguished Service Awards were given to Arreguin and Wilkerson for their ardent support for students, while Venegas received distinction in Excellence in Education/Student Alumni.
Arreguin, who has worked for the Colton Joint Unified School District (CJUSD) for 32 years, has been essential to the development of biliteracy programs. She works closely with the District English Learner Advisory Committee to address parent concerns and giving information on educational opportunities.
“Working with such an amazing team has me convinced that we could move mountains,” Arreguin said. “In Colton students are empowered, parents have a voice, and parents are engaged. I live for this.”
She said multilingualism provides a gateway of opportunities for students.
“Becoming multilingual is a huge asset in today’s global economy,” she said. “Students are prepared to live, work, and play in a multicultural and multilingual and highly connected world. It gives students a huge advantage–opening the door for college scholarships, internships, and jobs that require proficiency in a language other than English.”
Wilkerson, who has taught Mathematics at Arroyo Valley High School since the school’s opening in 2001, has built a strong rapport with students due to his tutoring availability and mentorship in step dancing.
The 14-year veteran explained being in his position is a responsibility that requires providing young people with motivation to want to succeed.
“The students teach me things,” he said. “It’s everyone working as a team. I want to let them know that someone is there to help. Knowing that someone there is important.”
Others who received recognition were CJUSD’s Susie Garcia Torres (Volunteer in Action/Community Volunteer), Rialto Unified School District’s Leah Michelle Cash (Volunteer in Action/Service Group), San Bernardino City Unified School District partner Thinkwise Credit Union (Partners In Education/Corporation or Government Agency), Alta Loma School District’s Judy Bach (Excellence in Education/Educational Professional).