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2012 Members of the Year

Each year, CSEA honors members who go above and beyond in service to students and CSEA with the Member of the Year award.

The five CSEA members selected as 2012’s members of the year excel on the job, connect with students, and show they care. These individuals understand their role in education. They know that going that extra mile will help students succeed in the long run and they know that classified employees make a difference. Their supervisors and coworkers recognize their diligence and dedication, and CSEA congratulates them for a job well done.

Connie Lemke

Connie Lemke
Student Services
Santa Monica College Chapter 36


“The best part of my day is when I can help someone, whether it’s a CSEA member or whether it’s a student. You know, some of these students, you feel like they’re your children or your grandchildren. If you can bring them to understand something that went on, that’s like a golden gift to me.

“We’re the behind-the-scenes people. It’s the infrastructure that we build more than the day-to-day contact with students. That’s pretty minimal, although we try to make it meaningful when it happens. But it’s the infrastructure. It’s where your records are, that they’re in order, that someone can find them. It just makes me crazy when something doesn’t run smoothly; and so, if I have a chance, I fix it.” – Connie Lemke

Gary Cooper

Gary Cooper
Groundskeeper/Arborist
San Jose/Evergreen Colleges Chapter 363

“I’ve been doing this 35 years. I started from the bottom and I worked my way up to the top. I took irrigation classes. I took tree classes. Trouble-shooting classes. You name it. But I learned a lot here.

“You take pride in your work. You enjoy nature. You enjoy doing your work, and you enjoy the people who come and see and – and tell you how they love your work. It’s a blessing in a way, because a lot of outdoors people don’t see what you do, but they can come by. It’s a beautiful campus. They know when I’m on vacation and can tell the difference.” – Gary Cooper

George Sawyer

George Sawyer
Food Services Worker
Modesto Chapter 7

“We see the kids more than most parents see their kids. We’re front-line. When they come to school, they see us. We feed them. We talk to them. They tell us their problems. They let us know what’s going on in their lives. I probably sign at least 10 yearbooks a year, and I’m a food-service person, yet I sign yearbooks for kids. So I have made an impact on them by talking to them, and talking to them at their level, showing respect.

“Whether you’re here at the school, or you’re at a shopping mall, or you’re at a restaurant, and they all come up and say hello to you. They’ll say, ‘Hey, Mom. This is George. He works at our school.’ That’s a good feeling.” – George Sawyer

Jackie Jenkins

Jackie Jenkins
School Office Manager
Westminster Chapter 34

“I really love my job. It’s an incredibly stressful job; and, if I didn’t love it, I couldn’t do what I do. But I have several different passions. One, of course, is the students. I raised six sons. I have 15 grandchildren. So that has to be my passion. I want the best for them. I want this to be a school that I would feel comfortable with my children going to.

“I think, if a child knows you genuinely care for them, that you’re not just giving them lip service, so to speak. If they know you really care, then they’re going to feel safe. And that’s how I want every child to feel, that they can come to me at any time.” – Jackie Jenkins

Jan Wilson

Jan Wilson
Instructional Aide, Special Ed
Oroville Elementary Chapter 618

“I think, first off, you have to make a connection with kids. They have to like you. They have to feel comfortable with you. Like when the Kindergarteners first come in, they’re really fearful, and they, especially our Hmong students, or second-language learners. They don’t know who you are, and they don’t understand a lot of your language, and I try to be very animated, and kind of play out what I’m telling them. Show them with movements. By the end of Kindergarten, they’re very comfortable with me, and they enjoy coming to my station.

Then, as they go along through the grades – you get out in the community – you hear, ‘Hi, Mrs. Wilson! Hi, Mrs. Wilson!’ And you turn around, and there’s one of your students. "So it’s – it’s really great to be a friend to them, and a mentor that just helps them get where they need to go.” – Jan Wilson

More outstanding members:
Several CSEA members won this year's California Classified Employee of the Year Awards for K-12 Districts and for Community Colleges.