Orleans/Niagara BOCES recently named its Employees of the Year for the 2018-19 school year. Employees are nominated by their peers and a committee decides who will be the recipient in each of the categories: Administrator, Clerical, Continuing Education, Custodial/Maintenance, Staff Specialist, Substitute, Teacher Aide and Teacher.
This year's recipients are: Administrator, Cassandra Barnes; Clerical, Candi Curry; Continuing Education, Chuck Diemert; Custodial Maintenance, Jerry Velesko; Staff Specialist, Lisa Bielmeier; Substitute, Mary Lou Rue; Teacher Aide, Carly Bieleski; and Teacher, Christine Burdick.
Barnes is a special education coordinator/principal who is responsible for working with the school districts to provide its students with special education programs or services. She said what she likes best about her job is the ability to make a difference in special students' lives and help them to be successful in a public school setting.
"I was quite surprised and appreciative that I was selected as the Administrator of the Year. It is with great honor and appreciation to accept this award," Barnes said.
Curry is an administrative assistant to the instructional services director and the clerical person for curriculum council, technology department and regional summer school. She said that she likes the fact there is never a dull moment in her job.
"Every day is not the same and I feel like I am the matriarch of the building; the person everyone knows that they can come to for anything. We all work together as a team to accomplish something and that is very important to me," Curry said.
She said she was shocked when Dr. Clark Godshall, the district superintendent called her into a meeting.
"I was nervous and thought that there was something wrong with the room, but when he told me why I was there, I was surprised and humbled to know that I was nominated by my peers. It was a great feeling," Curry said.
Diemert is the literacy zone coordinator for both the Niagara Falls and Lockport Workforce Training centers and the Niagara County Jail. He said his favorite part of his job is that he gets to network with a local agencies to assist students get the help and support they need to achieve their educational goals.
"I was overwhelmed to receive this award. I genuinely feel like I am just doing my job. It was nice to hear that my peers think that I go above and beyond," Diemert said.
Velesko works as a general maintenance personnel. He works at the Orleans Career and Technical Education Center for the most part, but also works at the Niagara Falls Workforce Training Center, Newfane and Royalton-Hartland Learning Center and wherever else his talents are needed.
"I was shocked that I received this award. I had no idea whatsoever. The employees here are great and very easy to work with. It is a great atmosphere," Velesko said.
Bielmeier is the public relations director and works with BOCES and several of its component school districts.
"My favorite part of my job is helping educators highlight all the great things that are going on in their school districts. I think it's important that people know how hard teachers, administration and staff work to help students grow and succeed not only in school, but in life. Also, nothing makes me feel better then when a teacher tells me how it made a student's day to see themselves in the newspaper or online and have people come up and congratulate them on their achievements," Bielmeier said. She added she was caught off guard when she was given her award. "I was so touched and humbled that my coworkers thought enough about me to nominate me for this."
Bieleski works as a teacher aide at the North Tonawanda Learning Center.
"I help the classroom teacher in our everyday classroom activities and teach the students the school and classroom rules," Bieleski added. She said what she likes best is spending time with the students. "As the school year goes on, the students learn and grow so much and being part of that is very rewarding."
She said being named the Teacher Aide of the Year was a real honor. "The North Tonawanda Learning Center is a great building to work in. I am very lucky to work with such a great group of staff. I could not have won this award without the support of everyone I work with every day," Bieleski said.
Burdick teaches at the Orleans Career and Technical Education Center.
"I teach early childhood education and I also run a preschool for 3- and 4-year olds with the help of my amazing preschool supervisor," Burdick said.
She added she loves to work with the high school students and become part of their daily lives.
"I enjoy watching them grow and mature in the program. I have them for two years, so I really get to see how much they have changed over the years. I love hearing from them after high school and seeing where they go in life," she said.
She was very surprised and honored to hear she was named Teacher of the Year.
"I love my job and I appreciate the recognition," she said.