You Make a Difference Award Recipients
Every year, KCSOS solicits nominations for its annual You Make a Difference Awards, which recognize employees in three categories — Overall Excellence, Innovation in Education, and Distinguished Service. Final selections were made by a committee consisting of office employees who select the honorees based on their “dedication and contributions to the success of the overall mission of the organization.” These hard-working employees exemplify what these awards are all about: making a difference in the lives of children. Congratulations!
Larry E. Reider Outstanding Service to Education
Lead Warehouse Operations
Rob Roberson is as humble as they come. When he learned he was being honored with the 2021 Larry E. Reider Outstanding Service to Education Award, he was quick to question why he deserved such an honor.
But for those who know Roberson, the answer is simple: he has always gone above and beyond the call of service. This has never been more true than during the pandemic said Ryan Knapp, Director of Maintenance & Operations.
At the onset of the pandemic, KCSOS quickly began sourcing thousands of Chromebooks and other student necessities which would eventually find their way to the warehouse to be distributed to school districts. With this influx of inventory happening seemingly overnight, Roberson took steps to ensure all incoming shipments were swiftly accounted for to prevent staging and space concerns.
“Rob really took charge and got things done,” Knapp said.
Since then, Roberson has continued to be a key player in KCSOS’s COVID-19 response team.
KCSOS Chief of Staff, Steve Sanders, along with Ericka Pineda, Secretary II, have been knee deep in ordering a massive amount of PPE through an agreement with the Wonderful Company. From there, Roberson has been the point person for the receiving, sorting, storing, and coordinating distribution of countless truckloads of PPE over the past 18 months. During that time, the warehouse has received nearly 200 pallets of PPE, including four million masks, 3,500 gallons of hand sanitizer, and 4,000 canisters of sanitizer wipes.
“Just this week, Rob helped fulfill an emergency order for 2,000 masks for Maple School District,” Sanders said. “He has been amazing.”
While the pandemic continues to present challenges, Roberson has many plans in place to make the warehouse even more efficient. He is currently
working on plans to modernize the warehouse, a project that will ultimately include improved asset management, package tracking, and the implementation of a new system to create a safer environment for employees and visitors.
Innovation in Education Award
Teacher, Valley Oaks Charter School (Tehachapi)
This year’s Innovation in Education Award recipient is Jodi Stauffer, a teacher at Valley Oaks Charter School with over 18 years of experience. As challenges plagued many teachers due to the pandemic, Stauffer worked hard to stay ahead of the curve and dedicated herself to sharing her knowledge with fellow teachers, for the benefit of all students.
From generating content about navigating emerging technology for teachers, to facilitating a monthly club geared toward student socialization and reading, she saw gaps in student learning and worked hard to fill them.
“COVID-19 shed a light on the ineffectiveness of some of our systems,” Stauffer said. “Something had to change.”
Stauffer created training materials on a variety of topics like Google Classroom and even took extra time out of her day to teach these classes to colleagues and parents via Zoom. She also created several Hyperdocs — or digital lesson plans — spanning various types of curricula.
As time went on, Stauffer recognized additional student needs. For instance, to get more students reading, she created and managed a reading incentive program made available for all students across all five Valley Oaks Charter School sites called “Escape the Library.” Students were able to read books, take AR quizzes, and submit their forms to Stauffer to then be eligible for a prize, which Stauffer would order and have sent to students directly via Amazon.
Distinguished Service Award
Information Systems Technician
“Service with a smile” is how nominators describe this year’s Distinguished Service Award recipient, Sam Tang.
Tang, an Information Systems Technician working in the External Business Services department, has over 25 years of service at KCSOS spanning numerous departments. His dedication has even resulted in him receiving the Larry E. Reider Outstanding Service to Education Award back in 2012.
In his current role, Tang is responsible for providing customer service and technical support for all 46 Kern County school districts.
Like many employees, the demands placed on him during the past eighteen months have only increased due to the pandemic. Yet, month after month, Tang would process, print, seal, and quickly resolve any issues that arose for payroll and accounts payable without issue.
Because of his dedication to ensuring all deadlines are met, employees throughout the county can enjoy the peace of mind of receiving their paychecks on time.
“My job is to make sure everyone’s payroll is accurate,” Tang said. “As an employee, if your vacation hours and pay are always correct, I feel like it will play a role in making sure everything else runs smoothly – at least I like to think so.”
Even during an unprecedented year filled with numerous hoops and unexpected tasks, Sam accepted challenges with no hesitation, complaints, or mistakes.
“Sam is the epitome of excellent customer service,” said Bruce Storer, one of Sam’s nominators and his direct supervisor. “He demonstrates and proves his commitment and dedication to the KCSOS organization and our customers – 46 districts – year after year.”