Family, friends and colleagues cheered as a total of 48 employees were recognized Thursday at the Hesperia Unified School District Employee of the Year Recognition Celebration at Oak Hills High School.


Recognizing the "dedication and passion" site-selected employees have for their students is important, Superintendent David McLaughlin said.


"My focus for this year is to inspire passion and innovation," he said.


A silver apple was awarded to not only certificated employees but also classified employees and five of those employees also received a plaque to honor them as "district-wide" winners, according to Executive Secretary Linda Canfield.


Recognized with awards:


Elementary Teacher of the Year Gina Graham;


Secondary Teacher of the Year Jodi Perkins;


Classified Support Person of the Year from a school site Karen Mendoza.


Winners from Administration & Educational Support Center:


Classified Support Person of the Year Kerry Bobbit;


Certificated Site Support Person of the Year Becky Ball.


Unaware of their district win, the four winners present were wide-eyed with surprise as they came forward to accept their plaque.


"I feel just completely stunned, so blessed and grateful for all of the people I work with and my amazing supportive family," Perkins said. "I just feel humbled."


"I have a passion for the subject that I teach but it's the students that make me smile every day they make me laugh, they challenge me and I just love them," said Perkins, who teaches language arts to seventh graders at Ranchero Middle School.


"I am flabbergasted," said Kerry Bobbitt, who was the Information Systems Analyst for various district sites. "I did not see that coming."


"Because of my friendly demeanor," Bobbitt said as to why he may have been picked. "Everyone is important to me and I try to show that to everybody."


"I think everybody works so hard, it's hard for me to accept acknowledgement," said Graham, a first grade teacher at Topaz Preparatory Academy.


"I'm surprised, I'm very grateful to the election committee that they saw what they saw, it makes me feel good," Graham said. After 32 years in teaching, with retirement in her near future, she said the recognition is a good starting point for the end of her career.


"It was very humbling and very rewarding," said Mendoza, School Administrative Secretary for Eucalyptus Elementary. "I don't really like to be the center of attention."


"I just love the mornings, I just love the kids," said Mendoza of what she likes best enjoying the daily greetings of a smile, hug or hello from kids.


Additionally, from the Alternative Education Center, Dental Assistant teacher Susan Dahn was recognized as the 2013 San Bernardino County Superintendent of Schools Regional Occupational Program Teacher of the Year, Canfield said.


"I feel like I'm just being me and for them to think what I do is good is reassuring it makes you feel good about yourself," Dahn said, professing her appreciation to those who awarded her recognition. She's been teaching for 19 years at the AEC, but started in dentistry when she was 17, giving her more than 30 years worth of experience.