CUSD Certificated Employees of the Year

Renee Melo - CUSD Certificated Employee of the Year, Grades 9-12
Posted on 05/13/2020
Renee Melo

“What would Renee do?” One Central Valley High School teacher told Principal Carol Lubinsky that she asks herself this question when struggling to help a student succeed. Renee Melo chairs CV’s Science Department and teaches Anatomy and Microbiology, and she’s an expert when it comes to guiding student learning.

“Renee develops lessons that not only engage her students, but also set them up for success,” said Principal Lubinsky. “She understands authentic student engagement, and it’s very uncommon to see her students lose focus on the learning.”

Renee describes herself as a lifelong learner, but says that was not always the case. She credits her grandmother and a high school Biology teacher for setting her on a path to academic success and post-secondary education. Renee says it was during her second year in the Pre-med program at UC Davis that she realized her true passion is teaching.

“I had a part-time job tutoring Chemistry at the time and I absolutely loved tutoring,” Renee recalled. “That is when and why I chose teaching, and I have never regretted that decision.”

Excellent choice, Renee!

Beth Holtan - CUSD Certificated Employee of the Year, Grades 7-8
Posted on 05/13/2020
Elizabeth Holtan

Some people are just born to shine. Enter Beth Holtan! “I have been told I directed my first play in Kindergarten, rehearsing during recess and performing during story time,” said the Chavez Junior High School Music and Drama teacher. “At 15 years old, I was a choreographer and stage director, created sets, designed lighting, and ran sound.”

It was during that time, Beth said, that she realized she wanted to become a teacher. “As much as I loved performing, I enjoyed being behind the scenes teaching and passing on to others what I had learned.”

Chavez Principal Rosemarie Kloepfer says Beth is known for her ability to connect with and empower students so they not only learn, but are respectful and responsible in working with their instruments and with one another. Beth believes wholeheartedly that all students can learn, and tailors instruction to ensure that all students succeed.

"Some of the students in her classes have been non-verbal or had other cognitive disabilities," Principal Kloepfer shared. "This has never deterred Beth from finding a way for these students to be a part of the class."

Bravo, Beth!

Cheryl Brewer - CUSD Certificated Employee of the Year, Grades 4-6
Posted on 05/13/2020
Cheryl Brewer

“Productive struggle” and the freedom to make mistakes and learn from them: These are just two of the ways that Hidahl’s Cheryl Brewer helps sixth-graders prepare for the rigors of junior high and high school. Students are encouraged to analyze and redo assignments with low scores, and they receive necessary supports to ensure they are "not allowed to fail, ever,” Cheryl said. “As the year progresses, I enjoy watching students take responsibility for their growth and become more independent.”

Cheryl also continually seeks opportunities to build and refine her own skills through professional development, collaboration with peers, and even year-end “exit interviews” with students. “They are insightful and have helped me modify my practice,” she said.

"Mrs. Brewer is a passionate leader. She has a growth mindset and is a positive role model for both students and co-workers," said Principal Melissa Adams, who noted that Cheryl is particularly renowned for her math-teaching prowess. "Mrs. Brewer engages students in challenging activities that support the curriculum ... but also build a great deal of interest. Cheryl launched a math intervention program that not only develops critical basic skills, but teaches study skills and positive self-talk to overcome fixed mindsets."

Bob Elms - CUSD Certificated Employee of the Year, Grades PreK-3
Posted on 05/13/2020
Bob Elms

Ever know a teacher who shaved parts of his head for a lesson on fractions? Meet Bob Elms. “I think learning is one of the coolest things on the planet,” Bob shared. “When I can present material in an energetic and enthusiastic fashion, the kids begin to share in my enthusiasm."

“He comes to work daily with a smile on his face and literally ‘bounces’ through the doors with positive energy, shouting, Let’s change lives today, people!” said La Rosa Elementary Principal Lori Mariani. “I think his greatest quality is his ability to connect with all of his students. He has managed to conquer adulthood yet not forget what it is like to be 8 years old.”

Having lived in 23 houses from birth to high school graduation, Bob's approach to teaching is rooted in a deep desire to first provide the stability, consistency, and support students needs to believe in themselves. His second-grade classroom is college themed, and Bob leads conversations with seven-year-olds about the correlation between education level and earning potential. Bob's genuine care for his students is reflected in their growth while in his classroom, and far beyond.