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Congratulations to our Employees of the Year

May 2022

Administrator of the Year - Dr. Pamela Galano

Pamela Gallano and family

This year’s Administrator of the Year is Dr. Pamela Galano who is the Principal at Wilson High School. Pam is described by her peers as someone who is highly competent, current in their field, dedicated to their job, loyal to their school and district, consistently performing above and beyond, giving of their time and service, and highly respected by peers.

As principal at Wilson High School, Pam supervises multiple programs serving students from 5 to 21 years old. Her role includes overseeing the day-to-day running of Wilson High School, our Young Parents Center, our Post-Secondary Program, and our most recent program, Wilson K-12 Virtual Independent Studies.

In the almost 20 years that she has spent at SCUSD, Pam has never forgotten her roots as a middle school math teacher and is ready to step back into the classroom whether for a short virtual meeting or a full day with special education students.

Pam is described by staff as someone who trusts her staff and guides them as a thought partner and collaborator and does not micro-manage the process — she empowers staff to make student-centered decisions. Pam’s loyalty to alternative education programs is made evident by the culture and climate she has maintained and improved during her tenure as Principal.

Coworkers praise Pam’s leadership and it’s clear in meetings with families that she is working towards the best outcome and situation for the students while incorporating the professional opinion of the teachers. She has the ability to address any situation calmly and help others around them remain calm. 

Pam’s exemplary administrative skills were demonstrated this past school year when she not only implemented a PBIS (Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports) program at Wilson, but also took on the task of creating a whole new program for Independent Study. 

When given the important task of implementing the Independent Study program, Pam got right to work; collecting information, organizing curriculum, securing classrooms, and hiring teachers — and was ready to go on the first day of school. She accomplished this with confidence and grace, all while also pursuing a doctoral degree.

Our Administrator of the Year is very much deserving of her recognition — congratulations to Dr. Pamela Galano. 

Certificated Employee of the Year - Claudia Lopez

 Claudia Lopez and family

Congratulations to the 2022 Certificated Employee of the Year, Claudia Lopez, special education teacher at Westwood Elementary School. She cares deeply, but beyond that, her students and staff know they are loved unconditionally. With the heart of a mother, she supports, corrects, and encourages. Her patience and empathy are beyond compare.

Every moment of her day is filled with opportunities for positive and meaningful connections, and she utilizes every moment to make a difference! 

“To say she has had a huge positive impact on our students, teachers, and staff is a massive understatement,” says Principal Cori Ghaffar. “Claudia is the most dependable member of our staff. If she says she’ll be there, she’ll be there. She keeps her schedule as good as any Swiss timepiece, and expects the same of her support staff.”

According to school staff, Claudia’s skills were invaluable during distance learning as she navigated making online connections in small groups and one-on-one with her students through Google Workspace. She continued building connections and created safe spaces for her students, so much so that they came back to in-person learning with a strong sense of connectedness that was unexpected. They came back ready to learn!

“While many may grasp at “altruism”, Claudia truly embodies it,” says Rita Barone, Westwood Wellness Coordinator. “She gives of herself every day and strives to meet others’ needs before ever considering her own. She thoughtfully thinks ahead to plan out support for her students and teachers, adjusts as specific needs arise, and makes sure everyone is taken care of without fail!” 

Claudia is renowned for being the last one to leave the parking lot and has fostered a great relationship with the school’s night custodian who has to ask her to leave at the end of his shift in order to lock up. She thinks outside of the box, works hard to make things happen, and is not afraid of change. 

Claudia joined the Westwood Site Leadership Team and was an LMI participant; building the connections between unions and pushing toward shared leadership. “Most importantly,” says Principal Ghaffari, “Claudia is dedicated to improving the school, the program, and herself. She continues to learn by attending training and seminars, and is usually one of the first to join in with a new opportunity.”

Our Certificated Employee of the Year supports students, in school and at home. She understands that it is all about the student, while supporting the teachers and families, and uses her advocacy and positive energy to make the school and SCUSD a better place!

Classified Employee of the Year - Linda Pfeifer

Linda Pfeifer with staff and family

The 2022 Classified Employee of the Year is Linda Pfeifer who is the School Secretary at Peterson Middle School. Linda has been with the district as an employee for eight years and always has the best interest of students and SCUSD in her heart. 

Even before working for the district, over the last 21 years, Linda has been an integral part of the Peterson community as an active SCUSD parent and serving on numerous PTSAs during her own children’s attendance at our schools. She embodies every aspect of the Vision 2035 Adult Portrait — specifically as an “adaptive, and forward thinker.” Linda is always looking ahead and sees the big picture when it comes to students, student learning, and school. She is a part of numerous leadership teams, including the School Site Council and the School Leadership Team.

Linda is highly respected by her colleagues and all staff, and her work ethic is unparalleled. There is no ask too big or too small — if she doesn’t know how to do something, she uses her own initiative to get the task done. 

Staff say that no matter how much time she has to put in, Linda will do anything if it’s a benefit to the students and families in our community. She arrives on time and is always willing to go the extra mile to stay late to finish a project, or even help after school or on a weekend if needed. If something needs to be done, we can count on her to do it even if it isn’t “her job” and it always results in a product of the highest quality.

Our Classified Employee of the Year understands that as the office administrative assistant she is the face of the school community. No matter how busy or overwhelmed she is, Linda offers the absolute best in customer service to each and every person who walks up to her desk, from students and staff to families. Even those who rent the school facilities love working with her because she goes above and beyond to ensure that every detail is covered.

Staff appreciate Linda because no matter what their concerns are, she will find the solution in a timely manner. Parents love her because she picks up the phone every time it rings, and always has an answer. Each year, there are students who regularly come in to visit her in the main office, and according to school staff, there’s one student in particular that tries to eat his lunch with her daily. No matter how busy Linda is she always finds time for students — to ask how they are doing, listen to their stories, and show them the utmost kindness.

“We are the luckiest school out there to have her working with us at Peterson, but it is the students and our community who reap the ultimate rewards of her time, effort, and energy,” said Principal Chandra Henry. 

Throughout her years at Santa Clara Unified, Linda has had multiple nominations for this award so it’s certainly deserving. SCUSD is proud to recognize Linda for her amazing work at Peterson and for her dedication to our district!

Photos and Video

You can view and download all of the photo highlights from the Employee Recognition Celebration on the district Flickr account. Stay tuned for video footage from the event.