On May 23 at Mariani’s Restaurant, employees of the Santa Clara Unified School District celebrated the end of another school year at the annual “End-Of-Year Employee Recognition.” Honored at the reception were three outstanding district employees.
This year’s Administrator of the Year is Miakje Kamstra, Principal of Central Park Elementary School, who credited her hard-working staff for “making her look good.” Having been with the school district for 11 years, Kamstra served as principal at two other district schools before the district launched Central Park Elementary School in 2016.
“The mission of our school is to nurture the development of the whole child — mind, body and heart — and to provide a STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math) based education with a focus on multidisciplinary learning and following children’s interests,” said Kamstra of the work she has been overseeing. “We took a team of adults and students from many different places and built a culture of strong interpersonal relationships and collaboration. I had been hired to start the school in 2015 and 2016 during the planning year.”
Employed with the district for over 11 years, Julie Hall is this year’s Certificated Employee of the Year. As a guidance counselor at Wilson High School, Hall prepares students attending the alternative school for life after high school while also connecting them to resources.
“I do the intake with families and I get students enrolled and set up,” Hall said. “I try to help them get connected to credit-earning programs in career and technical education. Along the way, there are many needs students have. Sometimes they need extra nurturing and support. Sometimes we make home visits. If a student isn’t coming to school, I’d find out what their hook is. My team and I try to find something for them to grab on to so they can think, ‘this is something I can do.’”
After working in the district for about 23 years, Peggy Uyeda finally retired in April from her secretary position at Pomeroy Elementary School where she started off as a clerk. Uyeda was out of town during the employee recognition reception. She had no idea she was named this year’s Classified Employee of the Year until her family urged her to participate in a Skype chat so she could access the event. A Santa Clara resident, Uyeda has a special connection to the district because her children went through the district’s schools, including Pomeroy.
As a school secretary, Uyeda performed duties typically associated with information technology personnel.
“The more the office staff could help to resolve technical issues, the more it was helpful to the Technology Department in the district,” Uyeda said. “We’ve seen the technology teachers use evolve from desktops to laptops and now to portable Chromebooks. My job was to help the teachers teach because they need those technical tools to help students in the classroom. For me, the biggest part of students using technology in the classroom was getting all their Chromebooks ordered, received, unpackaged, hooked up, charged, and getting them up and working. When there were problems, people came to me.”
Uyeda reflected on how following her passions led to this career.
“I’d considered being a preschool teacher but I realized that I loved office work as well,” Uyeda said. “So working in an office at an elementary school was my dream job. There’s never a dull moment.”