Education awards go to Los Banos teacher, aide

tmiller@mercedsunstar.comOctober 3, 2013 

Westside Union Elementary is home to Merced County’s 2013 teacher of the year, and the first ever employee of the year.

During a ceremony Tuesday night in Merced, The Excellence in Education awards were presented to third-grade teacher Stacy Betschart and instructional assistant Vernicky Gold, both members of the Los Banos school’s staff.

The Merced County Office of Education and the Educational Employees Credit Union hosted the ceremony. As part of the presentation, a video highlighting the winners was played.

Betschart, who has worked in education for 13 years, performs weekly assessments of her students, places them in collaborative learning groups and works to measure academic growth.

“Teaching is my passion, something I was born to do,” Betschart said, adding she is grateful to the teachers who inspired her. “I’ve known since I was a small child I wanted to teach.”

In the video, Superintendent Steve Tietjen said Betschart’s classroom is inviting to her students.

“The thing that strikes you when you walk into Stacy’s classroom is the sense of emotional support the students have, as well as the high expectation she holds for them,” he said, in the video.

The other winner, Gold, has been an aide for eight years. Her co-workers said she donates many additional hours with students and works in the school’s reading lab.

Gold read from a poem she wrote.

“Teaching is deep down inside,” she read. “In my DNA is where teaching resides.”

Principal Joe McColloch said Gold is “always on the go, supporting kids.”

“Every time you see her, she has kids around her,” he said, in the video. “She’s just an incredible person.”

The other district nominees this year were Adan Moreno, Delhi Unified School District employee; Erika Pilcher, Delhi Unified School District teacher; Kathie Borba, Gustine Unified School District employee; Trisha Costa, Gustine Unified School District teacher; Linda Barbour, Le Grand Union High School District employee; Michele Meza, Merced County Office of Education career and alternative education employee; Cristina Vara, Merced County Office of Education special education teacher; Stacy Silva, Merced County Office of Education early education teacher; Jacob Ramirez, Merced Union High School District teacher; Rosa Wood, Merced Union High School District employee; and Teresa M. Strube, Weaver Union School District teacher.

Sun-Star staff writer Thaddeus Miller can be reached at (209)385-2453 or

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