Marilyn began her career as a Speech-Language Pathologist in 1985 for Los Angeles Unified, teaching a kindergarten – 3rd grade Severe Disorders of Language (SDL) class. She moved to Claremont Unified in 1986, and taught a 4th-6th grade SDL class for one year. Then, in 1987, Marilyn started Claremont’s first preschool SDL class and taught in that capacity for the next 14 years. Marilyn quickly became a highly-regarded professional and colleague known for successfully mainstreaming her students into campus classrooms and activities.
Fortunately for WUHSD, Marilyn began working for Whittier Union in the fall of 2002. She has been a Speech-Language Pathologist on the WACSEP preschool team for the past 10 years. Marilyn has always integrated her love of music and literature into her therapy sessions, and as a result has significantly enriched the lives and minds of our youngest citizens.
Reyna Conrado - La Serna High School
Reyna was born in Nicaragua, and moved to the United States with her family when she was young. Reyna graduated from St. Mary’s High School and attended California State, Long Beach – where she earned a B.A. in Spanish and a M.A. in Latin American Literature. Family has always been of the utmost importance to Reyna; one of her favorite pastimes is traveling with her nieces, having taken them across the country and to Europe.
Reyna began her career with the Whittier Union High School District in 1975 at La Serna High School, but transferred to Santa Fe High School. Fortunately, after three years she transferred back to La Serna High School for the remainder of her teacher career. Reyna is revered and respected among students and staff alike.
Christina Cortez - Whittier High School
Christina “Chris” is a graduate of Whittier College where she earned a B.A. in History. Chris began working for WUHSD in 1985 teaching Social Studies at Whittier High School. Chris was part of the development of some of the earliest intervention programs at WHS, always serving the needs of at-risk students.
She was also instrumental in the development of the Cardinal Computer Academy the first Partnership Academy in the school district, while acting as the ASB Activities Director for many years. In 1998, Chris was promoted to the Director of Expanded Horizons at WHS. As Director of New Horizons, she has worked diligently to promote and enhance a college-going culture at WHS, facilitating access to the college application process and financial aid system for students and parents.
Additionally, Chris has been a highly-valued member of the Administrative Team at WHS for the past 14 years. Her 29 years of energy and passion for equity and excellence in education is second to none – she will be missed at Whittier High School.
Steven Erickson - Whittier High School
Steven is a graduate of California State University, Long Beach where he earned a B.A. in English. In 1984, Steven began working for the Whittier Union High School District teaching English at Whittier High School.
Steve has worked his entire career of 28 years at Whittier High School. He has taught all grade levels – from college prep to Honors and AP English. Steve has inspired a second generation of WHS English teachers to return to teach at their alma mater because of his great inspiration and motivation as a teacher. His skills in teaching English Language Arts will be greatly missed at Whittier High School.
Toni Gartner – Sierra Education Center
Toni is a graduate of California State University, Los Angeles, where she earned a B.S. in Rehabilitation Counseling, and a M.A. in Special Education. Toni began working for Whittier Union in 1983 as an Orientation and Mobility Specialist with students who are visually impaired. Toni worked with students of all ages – from infancy to young adult.
With Toni’s help, students who are blind and visually impaired have learned to function safely in their schools, homes, communities, colleges, and places of employment. In her 29 years with WACSEP and Whittier Union, Toni taught students about the world around them, making sense of things sighted people take for granted – providing students with the skills they may need for full independence.
Toni also taught at CSU, Los Angeles for many years – ensuring that future teachers of the visually impaired cultivated the same high expectations and state-of-the-art skills that she brought to WACSEP. Toni’s service at WUHSD reflects the importance of rigor, relevance, and relationships.
Melissa Hill – Whittier Area Cooperative Special Education Program (WACSEP)
Melissa started working in the field of Early Childhood Education while teaching at Arizona State University in the Psychology and Child Study department in 1976. Melissa then went on to develop and direct a Parent Participation Preschool Program in San Diego County. From there, Melissa moved to Whittier and joined WACSEP as an SDL teacher at Maizeland in El Rancho, where Melissa also worked with the Head Start Preschool Program on campus. In 1996, Melissa and her SH preschool class were placed on the campus of a private preschool within the Whittier City District.
In 1997, Melissa accepted a position as Program Specialist with the WACSEP office, working for over a year as a Program Specialist with SH preschool programs, where she effectively redesigned the outdated model. In 2009, she took on more duties as a Program Specialist and has contributed to work within Los Nietos and Whittier City Districts.
Mickie Yuchno – Adult & Alternative Education
Mickie received a B.S. in Social Studies, with a minor in Economics and Anthropology, at California Polytechnic University, Pomona. Mickie returned to Cal Poly Pomona to obtain both an Elementary and Secondary teaching credential.
Mickie then attended Whittier College to complete her Master’s Degree, and secured a Reading Specialist credential. In 1985, she completed her administrative credentials at California State University, Los Angeles. Shortly thereafter, Mickie began teaching at Huntington Beach High School in the CORE program which targeted at-risk freshmen. In 1981, she accepted a position at Montebello High School as a reading resource teacher, and was instrumental in helping Montebello obtain their first Title 1 funds.
In 1994, Mickie applied for the Assistant Principal of Curriculum position at California High and the rest is history. In 2008, she became the Director of Alternative Education. Despite the economic downturn, Mickie has managed to find creative ways to keep many of the programs and courses for the Adult School alive and flourishing. Over the past 18 years, Mickie has been a mentor to so many of her peers who have aspired to become administrators because of her expertise as an educator.
Classified Retirees for 2012
Ernest began working for WUHSD at CHS in the fall of 1998 as a custodian. His dedication and hard-work was rewarded when, in 2005, he was promoted to Utility Custodian.
Over the years, the CHS staff has been known to regularly compliment his work ethic and eager customer service approach. After serving a total of 13 years and three months at the District, Ernest retired in December of 2011. Cal High would like to thank Ernest for his years of service, and wish him well with his retirement.
Aida Gerhart – SEC Career Connection
Aida was initially hired as a special education instructional aid in 1996 at California High. She also worked, in the same capacity, at Pioneer High school. Aida was promoted to vocational specialist in 2003.
In her capacity as a vocational specialist, Aida assisted students from various schools in preparing for job training, and helped those with paid employment transition from high school to the work force. Additionally, Aida established excellent relationships with the District’s business community partners – effectively connecting students, staff, families, and the community.
Christine Hagopian – Whittier High School
Christine began her 20 years with the District as a Clerk with Frontier High School in 1990. She transferred to the Whittier High Attendance Office in 1990, and was promoted to Clerk III in 2000.
Christine connected well with students, and was a valuable asset to the Attendance Office. With her strong work ethic, reliability, and dedicated, Christine was a positive contributor to the student-centered culture at WHS. In addition to her service at WUHSD, she also worked in the evenings at the Cerritos Performing Arts Center.
Geri Lee – SEC Central Kitchen
Geri was hired as a Cafeteria Assistant in the Central Kitchen in 1986 and promoted to Production Unit Supervisor shortly thereafter – supervising and overseeing the Main Dish Department. Geri won the Classified Food Service Recognition Award in 2005 and 2006 for her outstanding contributions and leadership in the Central Kitchen
Geri, retiring after 25 years of services, was known for her flexibility, promptness in accomplishing her work, and her positive attitude.
Donna Mautz – SEC Visually Impaired
Donna has served as a Braille Transcriber for the past 14 years, beginning her work at Pioneer High and ending at the Sierra Education Center.
As an integral member of the support team for students with visual impairments, Donna has worked diligently to ensure that such students have access to appropriate instructional materials and textbooks. Donna’s soft-spoken demeanor and kind personality has set the tone for the visually impaired (VI) office staff for many years – as has her forceful advocacy for the best interests of the visually impaired.
Transcribing into braille is a challenging and highly-specialized skill that Donna has done exceedingly well. She will be difficult to replace as moves into a well-earned retirement.
Melinda Mott – SEC Career Connection
Melinda has worked as a Vocational Specialist since 1992. She also took on the role of an Instructional Assistant in Specialized Heath – depending on the needs of her students.
For the past 19 years, Melinda has been a Vocational Specialist within the District’s Transition Program, a special education community-based program for students between the ages of 18-22. She implemented instructional programs for groups of students with severe developmental and health disabilities – teaching them how to interact and live safely within their communities. She always demonstrated the utmost respect for students, encouraging each of them to be as independent as possible.
Melinda raised the bar for all of us in her excellence in care and instruction to the most challenged of learners.
Ronda Peri – Pioneer High School
Ronda was initially hired as an Account Clerk in 1984, also working as a Payroll Clerk during that time. In 1999, Ronda joined the Pioneer High staff as Bookkeeper of the Associated Student Body. She was also selected by her peers to serve as the CSEA President for 8 years. Ronda also received the Classified Recognition Award in 2002-2003.
During her 12 years as ASB Bookkeeper, Ronda distinguished herself through excellent customer service, great interpersonal skills, and a desire to support students and staff alike. She was a favorite of the students – always having a positive, caring, and professional attitude, going above and beyond, to ensure the students were supported. We thank Ronda for her 21 years of service – she is truly missed.
Robert Salazar – Whittier High School
Hired as a Custodian at Sante Fe High School in 1990, Robert was soon promoted to Utility Worker at Whittier High in 1991.
Robert is consistent and through in his work. He is polite, professional, and works well with all students and staff. He shares his expertise freely, and is very much a team player. His 22 years of positive and professional service with the WHS Maintenance Crew is greatly appreciated.
Lupe Sanchez – SEC Central Kitchen
Lupe began her service with the District as a Food Service Worker in 1989, but was quickly promoted to Snack Shack Area Supervisor. In 2005, she was promoted a third time to Production Unit Supervisor in the SEC Central Kitchen.
In her 23 years of service, and through all positions, Lupe had high standards for her staff and coworkers, pushing them also do to their very best for the customers at WUHSD.
Robert “Patrick” Shaughnessy – SEC M&O
Patrick was originally hired as a Building Trades Technician in 1997. He became a General Maintence Worker at SEC in 1999. He retired after 13 years of service.
During his time in the Maintenance Department, Patrick served school sites and the District office in a variety of ways. For years, he was the Department’s resident floor and ceiling tile expert, ensuring that the floors and ceilings in classrooms were functional and aesthetically appealing. In his role as a General Maintenance Worker, he also assisted other trades with projects that included carpentry, electrical, HVAC and general repair.
By serving on a team of committed tradesmen, Patrick helped make a positive difference in the lives of students and staff in the Whittier Union High School District.
Olga Torres – California High School
Olga was hired in 1988 as an Instructional Aide in Special Education. Olga always demonstrated responsibility, reliability, and skills to work with students of various disabilities and in different settings.
She is respected by her students and staff and understands the goals of the Special Education Department. Olga's knowledge and experience allowed her to take the initiative and make appropriate accommodations and modifications for students. Her calm and nurturing personality allowed her to connect with her students and, in return, earned their trust and respect. Olga was also viewed as a leader among her peers.