PLIZANTON – The United School District of Pleasanton (PUSD) recognized its teacher and classified staff member of the year 2022-23 at its regular board meeting last week.
Virtual Academy math teacher Arik Little and guardian Fernando Bonjourna were honored by colleagues for their dedication and service. To gain this honor, both men were nominated by their colleagues and then selected by a commission. Their names will be presented to the county at the Teacher and Classified Employee Awards of the Year later this year.
PUSD superintendent Dr. David Haglund acknowledged the work of Little and Bonjourn during a board meeting.
“Congratulations to both Fernando and Arica,” Haglund said. “You embody sustainability and innovation, which continue to be determinants of how the PUSD team continues to meet the needs of each student. We are proud and grateful for your work and for representing the best of our certified and qualified team members. ”
32-year-old Small taught mathematics at the district’s high school. He has also coached volleyball and served as an integration specialist, working with teachers of all disciplines on learning strategies. Now he teaches mathematics in the sixth – 12th grades of the new virtual academy of the district.
“I think the draw at the Pleasanton Virtual Academy wasn’t necessarily a virtual aspect for me,” Little said of his choice to move away from regular school. “The setup provides for students who need flexibility on their school day and can’t get it in traditional school campuses. At Pleasanton Virtual Academy, we found a way to offer that. ”
Little said he enjoyed building in the virtual academy what is essentially a new school where students will be able to pursue their personal hobbies and receive an education equal to what is offered on the school’s school sites.
Little was a key part of the team responsible for preparing teachers for distance learning in the spring of 2020. He is a supporter of lifelong learning and is known for setting personal learning goals every year.
“I got a degree in applied mathematics and did term paper here and there,” he said. “Every year I have projects where I learn something new. One year it was physics, the second year statistics. This year I am working in a quantum computing class. It’s very interesting for me. “
A district press release said Little’s peers know both the team player and the teacher for both students and teachers. He said the best part of his job is helping students work through the hallmarks of math.
“My favorite part of my job, of course, is working with students,” he said. “Achieve students’ understanding that math is true for everyone. I really like the students to see the fun of learning math. ”
Bongiorno serves as the principal custodian of the Lydiksen primary school. In this role, he helped clarify existing procedures by providing all students and staff with a safe and clean learning environment.
Since its inception with PUSD seven years ago, Bongiorno has earned a reputation for being professional, personal and positive. He enjoys spending time with students over lunch and getting to know them. He said he was surprised and humiliated to receive the title of employee of the year.
“It’s a little shocking,” Bonjourna said. “I didn’t expect it, but it felt great when I was recognized.”