Castaic schools recognize teachers of the year, student of the month

Castaic Union School District Teacher of the Year recipient, Neal Schneider, poses with his family after the award ceremony held Thursday, February 8, 2019. Caleb Lunetta / The Signal.

In front of an audience that filled nearly every seat in the boardroom, Castaic Union School district administrators recognized their 2018-19 teachers and staff members of the year last week.

The most prestigious of the awards distributed at the Thursday meeting, the district’s Teacher of the Year, is awarded to a single educator who has been nominated as their school’s teacher of the year. After each of the four CUSD schools select their nominee, each candidate is then asked to submit an essay and be interviewed by former district teachers of the year winners.

Neal Schneider, a Northlake Hills Elementary School teacher, was awarded Teacher of the Year by CUSD Assistant Superintendent Janene Maxon, who read an excerpt of Schneider’s essay to the audience gathered in the boardroom.

“‘I have always tried to make learning fun for my students and make sure that if I am going to ask my students to do something, I do it as well,” Maxon read from the teacher’s essay. “The more they see me involved and taking risks the more they are willing to do the same.”

“He’s a treasure,” Maxon added, in her own words.

“Having worked here for so long, as well as living here in Castaic, it’s a great honor,” Schneider said. “To be recognized by my peers to do this and to love what I do and my kids…  it’s just a great honor.”

Jeanie Taron, of Castaic Elementary School; Mike Brodeur, of Castaic Middle School; and Beth Smith, who teaches at Live Oak Elementary School, were all recognized individually as well as the Teachers of the Year for their own schools.

CUSD officials and board members also recognized their first-ever Community Partner Award recipient, Starbucks on Castaic Road, which has worked with the district to create an attendance award program for the individual schools.

“They actually reached out to us and they said they wanted to do something for the students of Castaic,” said CUSD Superintendent Steve Doyle. “What they do is they provide a hot coco bar and cake pops, basically everything that sugars all the kids up.”

Other winners included the individual awards for Castaic Middle School, which included: Student of the Month, Bret Potter; Volunteers of the Month, Lisa Welch and Liz Kelley; Classified Employee of the Month, Tony Nelson; and Certificated Employee of the Month, Miquela Moreno.

The CUSD’s next board meeting is scheduled March 14.

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