And the Merced County Teacher of the Year goes to ....

Rosbelina Ward
Rosbelina Ward

Rosbelina Ward, a fourth grade teacher at Farmdale Elementary School, was named Teacher of the Year at a special awards ceremony Thursday night in Merced.

Lance Brewster was named the employee of the year. Brewster is a custodian/bus driver in the McSwain Union Elementary School District. Stacy Shasky received the top administrator award. Shasky is the teacher induction program coordinator at the Merced County Office of Education.

The awards were announced Thursday night at the Merced County Office of Education’s Excellence in Education awards at the Merced Theatre.

It’s the 14th year the program has been hosted by the Merced County Office of Education and is open to school districts across Merced County.

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Stacy Shasky Merced County Office of Education

Ward has been teaching at Farmdale for 12 years and spent one year teaching at Schaffer Elementary School in Atwater.

“I love working with students who are eager and have potential,” Ward said. “To me it’s the most fulfilling job anyone could have. They are ready to learn and I love having that responsibility.”

Shasky said she loves working with new teachers and wants to help them succeed in a teaching environment. She has been with MCOE for four years and has a master’s degree in language arts from California State University, Stanislaus in Turlock.

Brewster spent 30 years working with AT&T and Pacific Bell telephone systems as an operations manager before going to work in the McSwain district.

“I just love hanging with the kids. Everything’s for them. That’s what fulfills me,” Brewster said.

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Lance Brewster Merced County Office of Education

Brewster has been with the McSwain district since 2014; he drives a school bus four hours a day and also cleans classrooms and performs other custodial functions.

Brewster said he is really plugged into the school and volunteers whenever he can.

Ward and Brewster will move on to apply for the state awards program for teacher and employee of the year.

The other nominees for administrator of the year were Kelli Parreira from the Atwater Elementary School District and JoAnne Birdsall from the Dos Palos-Oro Loma Joint Unified School District.

The other teacher of the year nominees included Cindy Shannon (Atwater Elementary School District), Leslie Antonetti (Dos Palos-Oro Loma Joint Unified School District), Barbara Azevedo (Gustine Unified School District), Christine Quevedo-Sorci (Los Banos Unified School District), Janet Benziger (Merced County Office of Education - Preschool), Sarah Toews (Merced County Office of Education - Special Education) and Lea Smith (Merced Union High School District).

The employee of the year nominees were Esmeralda Sanchez (Atwater Elementary School District), Marta Fontes (Delhi Unified School District), Melissa Marshall (Dos Palo-Oro Loma Joint Unified School District), Cohinda Corona (Gustine Unified School District), Sandra Stevens (Merced County Office of Education - Educational Services) and Lynna Garcia (Weaver Union School District).