North County teachers, classified employees of the year named

Poway Unified School District bus driver Edward Wicburg.
Poway Unified School District bus driver Edward Wicburg has been chosen as San Diego County’s 2023 Classified Employee of the Year.
(Poway Unified School District)

Poway Unified School District transportation worker named as state’s highest classified employee


A Poway Unified School District bus driver has been named as San Diego County’s Classified Employee of the Year.

Bus driver Edward Wicburg was a substitute driver for seven years with the district, and within months of becoming a permanent employee, he was named a Delegated Behind the Wheel Trainer. That means he teaches trainees, modeling how school bus drivers should perform their duties.

“I’m honored and humbled to recognize Edward and all of his fellow nominees, who work tirelessly on behalf of San Diego County’s students,” said San Diego County Superintendent of Schools Paul Gothold in a statement. “They are the hidden heroes of education, playing key roles in the day-to-day functions of schools and districts.”

Wicburg has won several awards during his tenure at the district, including the Parents Choice Teacher Appreciation Award from the district’s Community Advisory Committee; the California Highway Patrol’s Mark Saylor Memorial Award; and the transportation department’s Employee of the Month.

“Ed is a true team player with an enviable work ethic, operating under the premise that everything one chooses to do deserves to be done well,” wrote Arora Bishop, assistant director of transportation at PUSD, in her nomination of Wicburg.

He now moves on to the state-level Classified Employee of the Year program for possible recognition by the California Department of Education.

Besides choosing their Classified Employees of the Year, many San Diego County school districts have also named their Teachers of the Year, some of whom will move up to compete for the county and then the state title. The San Diego County Office of Education plans to choose and honor the San Diego County teachers of the year in the fall.

North County school district winners — certificated employees followed by classified employees — are:

Bonsall Unified School District: Lauren Kennington, third grade, Bonsall Elementary School; Liz Diaz, special education paraprofessional, Sullivan Middle School

Carlsbad Unified School District: Melanie Lupica, third grade, Magnolia Elementary School; Robin Pinner, administrative assistant at Aviara Oaks Elementary School

Del Mar Union School District: Cinzia Fisher, math teacher, Ocean Knoll Elementary School; Sasha Kukulj, instructional aide, Ashley Falls School

Encinitas Union School District: Kirsten Goyette, fourth grade, Flora Vista Elementary School; Liliana Ponce De Leon, office manager, La Costa Heights Elementary School

Escondido Union School District: Wendy Threatt, fourth grade, Felicita Elementary School, and Carrie McGibney, AVID and Foundations teacher, Rincon Middle School; Mayela Guerrero-Ramirez, Maintenance & Operations Department, Farr Avenue Elementary School

Escondido Union High School District: Courtney Coffin, special education teacher, Orange Glen High School; Rienda Lievanos, secretary II, Escondido High School

Fallbrook Union Elementary School District: Emily Avila, sixth grade, Maie Ellis Elementary School; Kelly Espinosa, special education program assistant, Maie Ellis Elementary School

Oceanside Unified School District: Felicia Ayala, fourth grade, Foussat Elementary School, and Debbie Dickson, third grade, Reynolds Elementary School; Brian Johnson, lead custodian, Del Rio Elementary School, and Martha Fregoso, Educational Support Services bilingual office assistant

Poway Unified School District: Carrie Jennings, third grade, Monterey Ridge Elementary School, Christina Bass, third grade and ASB adviser, Painted Rock Elementary School, and Sanford Carvajal, ASB adviser and digital media production teacher, Mt. Carmel High School; Edward Wicburg, school bus driver, Transportation Department, Gloria Tran, administrative specialist, Attendance and Discipline Department, and Jennifer Nguyen, food and nutrition assistant II, Westview High School

Ramona Unified School District: Katie Skahan, Specialized Academic Instructor for grades TK-2, James Dukes Elementary School; Danielle Shaw, information systems support specialist, district office

San Diego County Office of Education: Sarah Knighton-Wisor, special education teacher, HOPE Infant Family Support Program; Betsy DeLaRosa, special education assistant in the HOPE Infant Family Support Program

San Dieguito Union High School District: Paul Brice, math teacher, San Dieguito High School Academy; Patti Pike, Administrative I, Carmel Valley Middle School

San Marcos Unified School District: Darshall Norman, first grade, Paloma Elementary School, and Danielle Dorsey, seventh-grade world history, San Marcos Middle School; Martha Duarte, behavior interventionist, Mission Hills High School

San Pasqual Union School District: Heather Johnson, third grade, San Pasqual Union Elementary School; Julie Carroll, school librarian, San Pasqual Union Elementary School

Solana Beach School District: Robin Kilsby, sixth grade, Solana Pacific Elementary School; Jennifer Nam, special education instructional assistant II, Carmel Creek Elementary School

Valley Center-Pauma Unified School District: Kimberly Williams, ceramics teacher, Valley Center High School; Lauren Holt, accounting specialist, district business office

Vista Unified School District (Golden Apple award winners): David Hanlon, Vista High School, Stephanie Hall Garland, Vista Magnet Middle School, and April Sparks, Breeze Hill Elementary School; Melanie Paliotti, certificated administrator, Bobier Elementary School, Dewayne Cossey, information technology, classified management, and Patty Landeros, The Leadership Academy, classified employee