San Bernardino County educator and philanthropist Cheryl Fischer, and Director of Human Resources Marcus Funchess, in San Bernardino City Unified School District are the recipients this year of the San Bernardino County Distinguished Service Award.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, they were honored on October 30 in a virtual format in place of an in-person event. They are the 38th and 39th recipients of the award.
For the past 23 years, the countywide Distinguished Service Award has celebrated exceptional and distinguished service. The purpose of the award is to recognize dedication and leadership on behalf of public education in the county. Up to two recipients may be selected annually.
Dr. Cheryl Fischer has devoted her life to education, community service and philanthropy in San Bernardino and the Inland Empire. She began her county career in the San Bernardino City Unified School District in 1978 as a coordinator of instruction. She continued her growth as an educational leader and served as the assistant superintendent of instruction in the Yucaipa-Calimesa Unified School District from 1982-1990.
Fischer began her tenure at California State University, San Bernardino in 1990 where she would remain until her retirement in 2006. During the course of her career Cheryl Fischer made a tremendous impact as a mentor and builder of educational leaders. Her guidance and support of school administrators continues today.
She has been a tireless advocate for children and families and has served numerous non-profit organizations in various capacities. As an 18-year member of the Assistance League of San Bernardino, Fischer broke fundraising records to benefit the community through the Dr. Earl R. Crane Dental Health Center and Operation School Bell clothing program.
Fischer believes in creating opportunities for students to pursue higher education through the Advancement Via Individual Determination Scholarship Expansion Program in San Bernardino County. She has been instrumental in increasing available scholarships through the Fischer Ambassador program. Scholarships have almost quadrupled since the program was first founded in 2018.
Dr. Marcus Funchess, has committed his career to educational equity, student achievement and a vision of excellence within the San Bernardino City Unified School District. As the director of human resources, Funchess has facilitated recruitment strategies that strive to ensure a diverse instructional staff reflective of the student population.
He began his career in the County in 1998 as a teacher in grades 4-6 at Jones and Vermont Elementary Schools. He became vice principal in 2007 at E. Neal Roberts Elementary School followed by positions as principal at Thompson and Dr. Mildred D. Henry Elementary schools. He has created positive school climates that improve student outcomes through transformational leadership.
Funchess serves as a role model to his students and his colleagues. He was recognized as the Association of California School Administrators, Region 12 Personnel Administrator of the Year in 2019. State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond selected Funchess to serve on the Transition Team for Addressing the Teacher Shortage also in 2019. He is also a past recipient of the prestigious Golden Bell Award from the California School Boards Association.
The Distinguished Service Award competition is co-sponsored by the San Bernardino County School Boards Association (SBCSBA), the San Bernardino County Superintendent of Schools, the San Bernardino County Committee on School District Organization, and the Fifth District PTA.
Past recipients of the Distinguished Service Award are: Jane Smith (2019) board member with the Yucaipa-Calimesa Joint Unified School District, Donna West (2019) board member with the Redlands Unified School District, Margaret Hill (2018), board member with San Bernardino City Unified; Yvonne Molles (2018), special education teacher with County Schools; Carl Schafer (2018), County Music Educators Association leader; Cuauhtémoc Avila (2017), superintendent of the Rialto Unified School District; Judy White (2017), former teacher and administrator in San Bernardino and the superintendent of Riverside County; Bertha Arreguin (2016), director III of Language Support Services with the Colton Joint Unified School District; Marcus Wilkerson (2016), teacher at Arroyo Valley High School in San Bernardino City Unified School District; Patricia Kohlmeier (2015), board member with Redlands Unified School District; Dr. James Lally (2015), community supporter for the Chaffey Joint Union High School District; Don Bertucci (2014), assistant superintendent of Business Services, Chaffey Joint Union High School District; Cecilia Lucero Solorio (2013), board member, Etiwanda School District; Sharon Bölle (2012), assistant superintendent of Student Services, San Bernardino County Superintendent of Schools; and Dr. Albert Karnig (2012), president, California State University, San Bernardino.
Other recipients include James Downs (2011), superintendent, Colton Joint Unified; and Robin O’Hare (2011), teacher, Bear Valley Unified School District; Sharon Nagle (2010), superintendent, Central School District; Dr. Herbert Fischer (2009), superintendent, San Bernardino County Superintendent of Schools; Don Averill (2008), chancellor, San Bernardino Community College District; Janey Kozlowski (2008), legislative analyst, San Bernardino County Superintendent of Schools; Wilmer Amina Carter (2007), board member, Rialto Unified; Dr. Wayne Ruble (2007), board member, Fontana Unified; Kathleen Campbell (2006), board member, Bear Valley Unified; and Dr. Theodore Vick (2005), member, County Board of Education; Dr. Sonja Yates (2004), superintendent, Central School District; Irene M. Newton (2003), superintendent, Rialto Unified; Joan R. Weiss (2003), board member, Central School District; Dr. John Preston Miller (2002), board member, County Board of Education; Russell R. Reynolds (2002), superintendent, Bear Valley Unified; Dorothy Gibson (2001), board member, County Board of Education; Ann Davis-Schultz (2001), learning support/grants coordinator, Redlands Unified; Ray Abril, Jr., (2000), board member, Colton Joint Unified; Barbara Phelps (1999), board member, Redlands Unified; Dr. E. Neal Roberts (1999), superintendent, San Bernardino City Unified; Brenda Boss (1998), board member, Bear Valley Unified; and Dr. Loren Sanchez (1998), superintendent, Upland Unified.
For more information and to view videos of the recipients, visit the SBCSS YouTube.