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Employees of the Year

The Elk Grove Unified School District (EGUSD) commends twelve outstanding employees as the District’s 2021-2022 Employees of the Year. Each employee was nominated and selected by their affiliated members as exemplary individuals in education helping to prepare every student to become college, career and life ready graduates.
The 2021-22 Employees of the Year for the Elk Grove Unified School District are:


Armando Fernandez, PSWA Employee of the Year 
School Psychologist

Armando works tirelessly to serve and respond to the needs of over sixty (60) school psychologists district-wide in his role as Lead School Psychologist. From providing guidance for specific cases and situations, to assisting with the hiring and placement of school psychologists, Armando’s work ensures that the students in the Elk Grove Unified School District receive the service and support they deserve. Armando approaches every situation with empathy and understanding. His experience in the District as a school psychologist is a resource not only for his school psychologist colleagues, but for site and district administrators. His collaboration with Special Education adds much to foster a deeper understanding amongst staff as to how best to serve students with disabilities. On a personal level, Armando is a caring and hardworking individual who never loses sight of the needs of students.


Gary Johansen, AFSCME Employee of the Year
Lead Custodian

They broke the mold when they made Gary Johansen. He has been the lead custodian at Irene B West since it opened in 2002. Before that he was a custodian at Herman Leimbach elementary and also worked…. Gary is truly a human swiss army knife. He is good at everything! Gary uses saved parts to fix campus items, he creates systems that make different processes on campus work better, he always says "yes" when asked to support anyone and anything, and he never complains! Gary is a model custodian in the training and support that he gives his night crew. Gary also epitomizes the Arbinger mindset in that he always strives to listen and learn and build relationships with those around him. Prior students who are now in high school and college come back just to visit him! We are tremendously proud of him and we at West are all honored to work with him. There is not a better human being who could be recognized as EGUSD employee of the year.


Stephanie Berens, ATU Employee of the Year 
Scheduling Technician

Stephanie is truly deserving of this special recognition! She is highly skilled and capable of working at any of the positions in scheduling department. Stephanie not only does a wonderful job as a Scheduler, but she also drives 2-3 hours every morning and every afternoon covering routes as well as assisting dispatch to transport students whose routes are running late. She makes plans to meet deadlines and consistently follows up with all pending work. She is very organized and makes it easy for coworkers to find things when they need it. She is a team player and often covers for coworker who are out sick for a day or even out long term. She also voluntarily participates in rodeo and in house activities. She works above and beyond expectations which includes to check her work emails and responding if needed while she is off work.


She takes great care of her grandmother and her kids. She is full of energy and always participate with her kids' activities. She is very humble and always offer help with family and friends. We are very fortunate to have Stephanie as part of our team and assist our department to succeed and perform well every day. Stephanie is great employee to work alongside of and without a doubt she is deserving of this award.

Yolanda Saunders

Yolanda Saunders, AFSCME Employee 
Health Assistant

Yolanda has been a valued member of the health services team for 14 years. The last couple years she has taken on a leadership role as a CSEA board member and working alongside Janice as staffing coordinator for health assistant positions throughout the district. She is extremely hard working and even works after hours to make sure there is staffing in place to ensure our students can attend school safely. Yolanda always shows up to work with a smile and positive attitude which was much needed especially these last two years. She is a joy to work with and definitely deserves the recognition of employee of the year.

Employee of the Year

Lisa Ellis, EGTEAMS Administrative Support Employee of the Year
Administrative Assistant III 

Lisa is incredibly helpful, courteous and friendly to all District staff members. She has been 100% completely dedicated and steadfast in her work all the way through the Covid-19 crisis. Her skills and abilities are second to none and she is always cheerful when helping others. We simply cannot imagine the Maintenance & Operations Department without Lisa Ellis. She wholeheartedly deserves this public recognition. We are very fortunate to have her with us.

Employee of the Year

Alan Williams, EGTEAMS Administrator of the Year 

Elk Grove Unified School District is proud to recognize Alan Williams as the EGTEAMS Administrator of the Year for 2022. This year Alan has led the expansion of the Elk Grove Virtual Academy and Las Flores High School from 394 students in the 2020 – 2021 school year to over 1400 this year.


Alan's work, supporting students, staff and families who chose to have an Independent Study experience during the pandemic has been exceptional. His diligence and dedication to those families and to EGUSD is recognized and valued. Without his leadership, this incredible expansion would not have been possible.

Employee of the Year

Jason Duran & Nick Powell, EGTEAMS Confidential/Supervisory Employees of the Year 
Senior Computer Training and Support Specialists

Dependable, hardworking, creative, knowledgeable, genuine, and thoughtful are just a few of the words you could use to describe these two. We recognize not only the incredible amount of work they have put in since early 2020 but also their longstanding twenty-plus year commitment and dedication to supporting the faculty and staff of Elk Grove Unified School District. They are respected by our team for their leadership, mentoring and positive, can-do attitude. It's for all of these reasons, and so many more, that we wish to honor Jason Duran and Nick Powell as classified employees of the year.

Employee of the Year

Natalie MacNeill, NUHW Employee of the Year
Occupational Therapist

Natalie MacNeill is the lead OT for EGUSD. She serves as a resource to the OT department, special education staff, students and families. She is highly organized and advocates for the needs of staff and students. Natalie is extremely reliable, dependable and creative. She works diligently in her efforts to recruit and retain highly qualified OTs and COTAs.


She has led the charge in expanding our recruitment efforts to add to the OT/COTA staff as our needs continue to increase. Her tireless enthusiasm and quest for knowledge is evident with her ideas on how to improve services for students and to increase fiscal responsibility within the OT department. It is amazing to see her in action with the OT/COTA department. She inspires others and provides opportunities for professional development to ensure that the members of the OT/COTA department remain up to date with the latest and greatest OT/COTA techniques that will benefit the students within EGUSD. Members of the OT/COTA department aspire to gain her knowledge and apply it to their cases. Without a doubt, Natalie MacNeill is a true treasure and is most definitely deserving of this honor and so many more. We are so proud and thankful to have her as the lead OT for EGUSD. 

Employee of the Year

Rachel Baird, EGEA Teacher of the Year
9-12th English Teacher

Rachel is truly an amazing teacher. Every time, you walk into her classroom, she is leading an engaging and very rigorous lesson. She builds very strong and positive relationships with her students, she embeds socio-emotional learning lessons when possible and makes herself available beyond the regular school day to support struggling students. Furthermore, Rachel serves as an English credit recovery teacher after school and also the EL Coordinator. In these two roles, she supports our most struggling students and is an advocate on campus for our English Learners. Rachel is highly respected at Cosumnes Oaks, with many teachers reaching out to her for support and guidance when they are struggling with their instruction.

Employee of the Year

Nathan Courtright, EGEA Teacher of the Year
9-12th Music Teacher

Mr. Courtright, through hard work, dedication and great teaching has built the best Band program in all of the land. He approaches his job and interactions with kids in a dual pronged approach. He first sets high expectations for his students and believes that each and every one of his students can and will be successful. He then works tirelessly to create routines and supports to allow students to live into his expectations while creating a warm, caring and family-like atmosphere in his classroom. This allows Mr. Courtright to get the best out of students and very deserving of this award. 

Employee of the Year

Dany'l Van Someren, EGEA Educator the Year

Ms. Van Someren has been the teacher librarian and an integral part of the PGHS staff for the past sixteen years. Ms. Van Someren was a middle and high school English teacher and a Curriculum Instructional Coach before she took over the PGHS library in 2007. During that time, she has seen her role and responsibilities change with the growth in student population, integration of technology, and move to common core standards. Ms. Van Someren works diligently to maintain and update the library textbooks, books and online resources, gather and disseminate valuable information to staff and students, develop and maintain an extensive website, collaborate with staff members on lessons to present to students as well as a variety of other resources, supports and services that she provides on a regular basis. Mrs. Van Someren is a passionate educator who strives to provide the most up-to-date and relevant educational resources available to PGHS staff and students. She is an asset to the entire PGHS community.