A staff member who has quietly been providing service to students and staff for 18 years in the Rialto Unified School District earned a State level recognition.
Richard Acosta, Custodian II, at Milor/Zupanic High School earned the California School Employees Association (CSEA) “Member of the Year” award.
The 54-year-old was honored during CSEA’s annual State conference, which was held virtually on July 27, 2021. A short video highlighting his almost two decades of service in the RUSD played during the conference. Dr. Darren McDuffie, Rialto Unified School District’s Lead Strategic Agent of Strategics, Congruence, and Social Justice, also presented Acosta with an engraved plaque.
According to Chris Cordasco, CSEA, Rialto Chapter #203 President, there are over 900 classified union chapters in the State of California, with over 240,000 employees. “Mr. Acosta was one of only five selected for this honor; that speaks volumes.”
Cordasco serves as the Rialto chapter #203 leader, represents hundreds of support staff in the District’s various educational areas, including secretarial, clerks, safety intervention, nutrition, transportation, maintenance and operation, grounds, information technology, risk, and education services aides. He added, “Our union brothers and sisters are incredibly proud of Mr. Acosta’s work. We are honored to have him recognized for his efforts to go outside the scope of his responsibilities to volunteer and assist our students. He is a humble and commendable person who deserved to be highlighted.”
Born in El Paso, Texas, Acosta’s family moved to the Pomona area and then, later, the Inland Empire. He graduated from the Fontana Unified School District but moved to the City of Rialto, 30 years ago. Married to wife Christina Acosta for 37 years, the couple has three grown children: Diana, Rayana, and Richard. Two of his children also work in the RUSD.
Acosta was nominated by Milor/Zupanic High School Principal, Dr. Kyla Griffin. She stated, “Mr. Acosta has gone well above the assigned duties as our school custodian. He serves as a mentor for students. He’s more than just a face on campus. He is committed not just to campus cleanliness but also to upholding a positive campus climate as well. Mr. Acosta believes that our students deserve the absolute best environment to keep them focused on learning.”
In 2003, Acosta was hired by the Rialto Unified School District as a custodian at Myers Elementary School. He has also served at Carter and Rialto High Schools before being promoted as a Custodian II and transferring to Milor High School.
“The best part of being a classified employee is being behind the scenes and getting the school ready along with all the classified staff to keep the school running,” Acosta replied at the Virtual meeting. “I like being engaged with our students.”
He added that it fits him fine, being known as “humble and personable.” “I talk a lot with our students between classes, at lunchtime,” said the father of three. “They come up to me, talk to me, say, ‘Hi.’ I feel I’m approachable, probably because I’ve been in the same place they were. And if it wasn’t for someone spending time with me, who knows where I would have been.”
Acosta, whose hobbies are boxing and football, also runs a boxing club. The veteran custodian has also assisted the District’s Positive Behavioral Supports and Intervention (PBIS) team to provide students social-emotional support. He also participated in restorative circles at the school alongside counselors.
RUSD Superintendent Dr. Cuauhtémoc Avila, who oversees a staff operation of 3,000 employees in the District, will honor Acosta at an RUSD Board of Education school board meeting for the award and his contributions to students and staff.
“I’m appreciative for the recognition,” Acosta concluded, “It took me by surprise, but I’m the same person doing what I can for kids. I guess that’s my calling.”