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Orleans/Niagara BOCES Names Its Employees of the Year

Orleans/Niagara BOCES recently named its employees of the year for the 2019-2020 school year.

Employees are nominated by their peers and a committee selects an awardee in each of these categories: Administrator, Clerical, Continuing Education, Custodial/Maintenance, Staff Specialist, Substitute, Teacher Aide and Teacher.

Michelle Kulbago is the Administrator of the Year.  She is a special education coordinator/assistant principal who works at the Niagara Academy for the past five years.  Kulbago says she has been an administrator for 13 years and in education for 27 years.  “My favorite part of my job is being the lead advisor for our Niagara Academy Student Council.  Our students get a voice in decision making; and the activities that we undertake are super fun, in addition to being opportunities to practice real life skills.  Student Council brings a certain kind of joy to the building.”  She says she was really excited to hear that she has been named the Administrator of the Year.  “I called my mom right away!  I am so honored!  Truly, I consider it a team award as principal Amanda Bennett and I are two peas in a pod and the entire Academy team rocks!”

Susan Ryan is the Clerical Person of the Year.  She retired this year after 13.5 years at the Orleans Career and Technical Education Center’s main office.  “My favorite part of the job was being able to help others, be it students, staff, or parents.  It’s a diverse and challenging position, but the bottom line always comes back to making a difference by helping others.”  She describes her reaction to being named Clerical Person of the Year as “stunned, humbled and grateful.” 

Ann Ditto is the Continuing Education Employee of the Year.  She was a Literacy Instructor for three years in Continuing Education, but has since moved on to the Niagara Academy.  “I can’t really say there is one favorite part of my job.  I enjoy everything about my job – my students, my colleagues and my supervisors.  My Continuing Education supervisor, Sue Diemert, has made being part of Orleans/Niagara BOCES a wonderful experience.  She is truly a role model when it comes to passion and work ethic!  Recently, I transferred from the adult education world to secondary – I am now at the Niagara Academy and I have found another great group of people and students to work with.  This year has truly been one for the books when it comes to being an educator, but observing my colleagues work so hard to learn the technology, learn how to Zoom and Meet and Google, and change their entire format of teaching is inspirational.  I think everyone in the organization deserves “Employee of the Year” for 2020.”  Ann says when she found out she was the Employee of the Year she cried.  “It was exhilarating to hear the news, but it was right after I had cleaned out my classroom and I was already emotional.  It was hard leaving a position I loved so much and then to be recognized by my peers made me sad to leave.  I am so grateful to be where I am today.” 

Alex Empson is the Custodian/Maintenance Person of the Year.  He has been a custodian at Orleans/Niagara BOCES for 12 years.  “My favorite part of my job is the people I work with.  Finding out I was Employee of the Year was a good feeling.” 

Lindsay Delaney is the Staff Specialist of the Year.  She started working at BOCES in 2011 as the School Library System Coordinator.  “My favorite part of my job is helping people.  With the Library/Media Center, I work to help teachers and it is very rewarding.  I also work with amazing educators and staff at BOCES and their dedication is always very impressive to me.  I also enjoy all the opportunities I have to attend conferences and trainings to better myself as an educator.”  She says she was thrilled and honored to receive the recognition.  “All the staff specialists work so hard and are great people.  It’s amazing to be acknowledged from such a dedicated group.  I would like to thank the committee, our District Superintendent Dr. Godshall and the Board of Education for this tremendous honor.” 

Jennifer Stacks was named the Substitute of the Year.  She has been subbing since 2014 and last year she worked with teacher Mike Brauer at the North Tonawanda Learning Center for the school year.  “My favorite thing is working with all the teachers, students and aides.  It was a really good group to work with.  I was very surprised and grateful for the nomination.” 

Lynda O’Keefe is the Teacher Aide of the Year.  She is at the Royalton-Hartland Learning Center and has been working with BOCES for 18 years.  “My favorite part of my job is finding those teachable moments that just pop up when you are working with the students.  Taking these moments and encouraging the students to explore new things.”  She says she was very surprised to find that she won.  “It is truly an honor to work with my amazing coworkers and I am truly thankful to be recognized.” 

Jennifer Herko is the Teacher of the Year.  She is a School Counselor at the Royalton-Hartland Learning Center and is approaching her 19th year of working at BOCES.  “My favorite part of my job is being a part of witnessing students experiencing the joy of learning and helping them to feel valued and important.  When I found out I was named Employee of the Year, I felt humbled and grateful for the tremendously talented and compassionate colleagues within this organization that I have the privilege to work with and learn from.” 

collage of employees