Our Stories

PEF & California Credit Union Honor PUSD Staff and Community Volunteer

Every year, the Pasadena Educational Foundation supports PUSD’s Welcome Back Event & Awards Ceremony to kick off the new school year. While this year we couldn’t do it in person we are excited to have partnered with the California Credit Union to sponsor this year’s awards to honor individuals who have demonstrated excellence in their work. CCU will be providing a $100 gift card to the recipients of Teacher of the Year, Principal of the Year, and Classified Employee of the Year.

With CCU’s support PEF sponsored the Superintendent Award and will be sending a $20 gift card to all 84 honorees.

If you would like to watch the video from the 2020-2021 All-Staff Welcome Back Event & Awards including Superintendent Dr. Brian McDonald’s message to staff the video is available here.

2020 Awards
This year, we are proud to honor:

Eric Gothold, Rose City High School, Teacher of the Year
Eric Gothold has been a teacher in PUSD for more than 28 years and served as an assistant principal for four years. He spent the first 26 years at Washington Middle School. At Rose City, he teaches Studio Art and Photography, and has placed students into arts internships, obtained scholarships for aspiring artists, and helped students curate, prepare, and install the District’s annual “No Boundaries” student art exhibition. PUSD’s Teacher of the Year represents our district in the Los Angeles County Teacher of the Year awards. “There is no quit in teaching,” he says. “You have to keep going and trying things until something works.”


Elizabeth Powell, Director of Food Services, Classified Employee of the Year
Mrs. Powell has been the Director of Food Services with PUSD for the past 3 ½ years and was the Assistant Director before that. In her role as director, she is responsible for the administration of the Food Service Department and the District Warehouse. She has done an outstanding job this past year under challenging circumstances. Through her leadership, Food Service staff, along with the aid of community volunteers, have served over 700,000 meals since the stay home order went into effect on March 16th. Ms. Powell has a real passion for the feeding and wellbeing of our students. She not only led the seamless feeding of students when our sites closed, but she also spearheaded the distribution of 24,000 reading books from our district warehouse to children during curbside meal service. She managed to fill all 41 little libraries throughout Pasadena twice since June. Before the pandemic, Ms. Powell led the charge to improve the quality of food in our cafeterias, introduced breakfast in the classroom, and as of this school year, has secured the ability for all PUSD students to eat school meals at no cost.

She truly is an asset to the district and to each and every PUSD student.

Brian Stanley, Rose City High School, Principal of the Year.
A gifted leader who puts his experience as a youth in foster care to work for students at Rose City High School, he often says that Rose City students are incredible and that working with them rejuvenates him. Brian has been with PUSD for 18 years, first as a teacher at McKinley and later as a teacher, dean, and assistant principal at Rose City. He became the principal of Rose City in 2015. Under his leadership, Rose City was named a model continuation high school by the State of California. The same year, the California Continuation Education Association (Southern Region) named Michael McNeely as Teacher of the Year and named Kathleen Watson as Support Staff of the Year.


Geoff Albert, Volunteer of the Year
When schools closed in March because of the pandemic, Geoff Albert was among the first to volunteer to serve meals at PUSD Grab and Go Centers. He also volunteered to deliver meals to families and others who couldn’t get to our centers. Geoff ensured that our most vulnerable students, families, and individuals got the nourishment they need. In his role with Collaborate PASadena, he works tirelessly to fill the gap in services between various organizations in our community so that children and their families have the support they need to thrive. During the pandemic, many individuals and organizations stepped up to support our students. Goeff Albert represents the incredible, giving, and generous spirit of the volunteers who work every day to support our students.

Superintendent’s Awards:

Despite the many challenges we’re facing to stay safe as a community, many stepped up with care and concern to help. There are many heroes among us. Because of the way you stepped up, our community has clearly seen how our schools are the cornerstone of our society.

The Superintendent’s Awards are designed to honor the unsung heroes among us. I would like to thank the California Credit Union for their generous sponsorship of these awards.

While there are many heroes, we’ve decided to honor three departments for their exceptional work.

The recipients of the 2020 Superintendent’s Award are:

Curriculum, Instruction & Professional Development. We honor the CIPD team for making sure that our teachers, staff, and administrators get the training and support they need to continue teaching our students through online learning.

Carmela Calderon
Helen Hill
Sherry Joiner
Jodi Marchesso
Nadirah Nayo
Jose Ortega
Shannon Mumolo
Karen Anderson
Harmony Cano
Jonathan Durfee
David Rennie
Maria Montoya (Fatima)
Julie Reynoso
Karla Coleman

Food Service – Grab & Go Food Centers. Food Services have been working tirelessly on the front lines to serve the community and make sure that children get nutritious meals. Despite these challenging times, the PUSD Food Services Department has been helping children focus on continuing their education.

Food Service Staff worked since March:

Liz Powell
Erin Meza
Darren Powell
Marcela Zamorano

Kitty Davis
Tim Echols
Maria Santa Ana
Yolanda Sandoval

Rembert Valmonte
Petrolina Valdez
Zaroughi Sultanian
Darin Johnson
Gayane Ordakyan

Norma Coombs:
Marine Kechukyan
Rosa Vasquez
Hermine Ter-Grigorian
Anita Dorian

Cassandra Trice
Rita Ferguson
Vanelina Smith
Maribel Vasquez
Guillermina Diaz
Araceli Zabaya de Ramirez
Felipa Herrera
Frank Potts

Frank Magana
Maral Garabedian
Barbara Knighten
Hilda Hajenian
Lauren Johnson

Carla Jones
Virgin Sarkissian
Chris Mainferme
Thelma Howard
Sara Ramirez

Kelly Currie
Ino Cortez
Ani Khachadourian
Alma Felix
Rose Saklarian

Innovative Technology Services (ITS) – Curbside Team – We thank them for their outstanding efforts on the front lines supporting the continuing education of PUSD students during the sudden transition to online learning.

Ani Aharonian
Zachary Akutagawa
Karen Bagdasaryan
Bridget Batch-Cooley
Harmony Cano
Jim Chiu
Kevin Cornejo
Anna Leticia De Anda
Daniel Deguchi
David Doperoy
Jonathan Durfee
Albert A. Garcia
Eliud Garnica
Joseph Grueter
Aurea Hernandez
Tendaji Jamal
Pedro M. Jimenez
Beth Leyden
Benjamin Luo
Jean Matsuzawa
Henry Monroy
Nancy Ontiveros
Jonathan Ostrus
Hung Duc Pham
Teresa M. Rodriguez
Trysta Taba
Chensiang Tiow
Carolina Valle
Jose Valles Jr.

Congratulations to our Awardees!