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Home / News / Education / Riverside County completes Educator of the Year surprise announcements

Riverside County completes Educator of the Year surprise announcements

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The final announcements of the Riverside County Educator of the Year have been made, according to the Office of Education.

The full panel of 2024 honorees is: Principal of the Year Emily Price from Megan Cope Elementary School in the San Jacinto Unified School District; Confidential Employee of the Year Cindy Vasquez, executive assistant at Jurupa USD; Certificated Administrator of the Year Ryan Mulvanny, director II of professional development and learning at Lake Elsinore USD; Site Support Employee of the Year Sharon Nakama, coordinator of special education at Moreno Valley USD; Classified Administrator of the Year Michael Sattley, director of facilities services at Hemet USD; Classified Employee of the Year Michelle Forcina, secretary III at Canyon Springs High School, Moreno Valley USD; and School Counselor of the Year Gabriella S. Zlaket from Arlington High School, Riverside USD.

Site Support Employee of the Year Sharon Nakama with Superintendent of Schools Edwin Gomez. | Photo courtesy of the Riverside County Office of Education

Nakama was the final Educator of the Year to receive a surprise visit throughout February from Superintendent of Schools Edwin Gomez to announce her honoree status, the Office of Education announced Friday. 

“Dr. Nakama’s mission to create awareness and understanding within the district and community has resulted in strengthened partnerships and enhanced support systems for students with disabilities,” Gomez said in a statement. “Dr. Nakama continues to pave the way for inclusivity and equity in education.”

Nakama serves 16 sites and 40 teachers in moderate-to-severe “Life Skills programs that serve students who are young as infants to adult transition classes,” according to the Office of Education. Daily she supports administrators, school service providers and instructional assistants. 

“I really appreciate this recognition, but I know that this is because of the amazing team effort,” Nakama said in a statement. “I am so thankful for everyone I work with and am so grateful.”

Beyond her work within the school district, officials described Nakama as a “bridge builder” who connects students and their families with disability community resources. She has developed several events and training curriculum, highlighting her belief that “every child can learn, including the student with the most significant disability.” 

Nakama’s colleagues said has “a rare combination of strategic vision and hands-on guidance (and) a great sense of dedication and inclusion that ensures equitable access and opportunities for all students.”

Principal of the year 

It was a party atmosphere, complete with balloons and beaming guests, in a multipurpose room at Megan Cope Elementary, where Principal Emily Price received word from Superintendent Gomez that she was the county’s next principal of the year.

“Dr. Price emphasizes the importance of ensuring that students have the knowledge, passion, and courage to achieve their goals,” Gomez said in a statement. “Through her leadership, Dr. Price has fostered a school culture that prioritizes the well-being and success of every student.”

Price has been an educator for 25 years, working as an educational consultant, professional development trainer and elementary teacher, according to the Office of Education. As principal at Cope Elementary, she’s focused her efforts on transforming a library into an interactive media center, creating new opportunities for parents to engage with the school community, boosting her staff’s level of teamwork through professional development and strongly promoting collaboration among teachers, parents and students. 

She is “a natural talent for bringing out the best in her team” and as “an administrator who walks the talk,” according to colleagues.  

“I am so humbled and honored by the incredible recognition,” Price said in a statement. “This recognition isn’t just about me; I could never have done this by myself. This is a reflection of the amazing support of the staff and students at Megan Cope.”

Certificated Administrator of the Year Ryan Mulvanny | Photo courtesy of the Riverside County Office of Education

Certificated administrator of the year

Ryan Mulvanny was responding Feb. 29 to a request to help set up a projector in the Lake Elsinore Unified School District’s board room, according to the Office of Education. He entered to a warm greeting from family, colleagues and, of course, Gomez, from whom Mulvanny got the news that he is the county’s 2024 certificated administrator of the year.

“It’s always a privilege to visit our schools and sites to recognize amazing educators like Ryan Mulvanny,” Gomez said in a statement. “His exceptional leadership qualities and dedication to student success have left an indelible impression. Ryan’s remarkable ability to identify and address needs beyond his immediate scope of responsibility speaks volumes about his character and commitment to our educational community.”

Mulvanny’s career in education began in 2007 when he taught first grade at Rice Canyon Elementary School in the Lake Elsinore USD, school officials said. Over the next 16 years following positions as a principal and instructional technology specialist, Mulvanny’s focus has remained on improving students’ educations by promoting a culture of continuous learning for all school staff members. 

“There are so many people who deserve to be up here receiving this award,” Mulvanny said in a statement. “I love my job, at every step along the way, and I’m humbled to come to work every day and make a difference in people’s lives and to be a little better every day for our students. We have the greatest jobs in the world, and our kids deserve the best from us.”

On Nov. 1, Mulvanny coordinated Elsinore USD’s first all-day, all-staff professional development event that drew nearly 3,000 employees who wanted to sharpen their educational skills. 

“We owe it to our students to always be seeking to improve ourselves,” Mulvanny said. “Quality educational outcomes are a civil right.” 

Colleagues describe him as “the type of leader who does all the things” and “the one we all want to be on our team for the next big thing we want to do as a district,” according to the Office of Education.

Confidential Employee of the Year Cindy Vasquez. | Photo courtesy of the Riverside County Office of Education

Confidential employee of the year

On a Thursday afternoon in late February, under the guise of needing technology support for a meeting, Jurupa Unified School District executive assistant Cindy Vasquez was called to a conference room. Waiting for her there were colleagues, educators and the superintendent — all poised to celebrate the news that she is the 2024 confidential employee of the year.

“Cindy’s impact on student success is profound, particularly in her efforts to support Spanish-speaking students and parents in overcoming language barriers,” Gomez said in a statement. “Cindy’s contributions extend beyond her immediate role, and her meticulous planning and coordination ensure that students have access to educational experiences that are rich and vibrant.”

Vazquez is an executive assistant to two assistant superintendents in the Education Services and Expanded Learning and the Arts divisions, according to the Office of Education. She organizes, schedules and maintains office operations, manages communications, supervises office workers and organizes schedules for both assistant superintendents. 

Officials described her as “goal-oriented in her passion for fostering excellence, collaboration, and positivity.” 

After 23 years working in the education field, Vazquez “has truly embodied the ‘Learn Without Limits’ mission, understanding the challenges and language-barriers that Spanish-speaking parents and students face when speaking in their primary language, offering translation, reassurance, and a personal connection to bring students to their utmost success,” officials said.

Educators of the Year are selected from the more than 36,000 education employees in Riverside County, according to the Office of Education. The countywide application process begins with nominations by teachers, classified employees and school district administrators. The Office of Education then collects award applications, and an “outside selection committee” chooses the honorees.

Along with the 2024 Riverside County Teachers of the Year, the Educators of the Year will be honored at the Celebrating Educators Luncheon, which is scheduled for May 7 at the Riverside Convention Center

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