About a half hour before pest control technician Everardo Avila accepted the Classified Employee of the Year Award at the Teacher Resource Center, he was removing some skunks from a nearby elementary school. Such delicate operations are all in a day’s work for Avila, affectionately known as “The Bug Man” for the Long Beach Unified School District.
Avila accepted his award in front of cheering colleagues at the annual Classified Employee Celebration last month. He was selected after a committee sifted through 87 nominations that ultimately produced 18 nominees (some employees received multiple nominations). The nominees and nine finalists were honored along with Avila at the celebration.
“It was a surprise. I’m very excited to be here,” said Avila, a 21-year employee of the school district. “Work is a place where you spend more time than with your family, so it becomes like a second family. I happen to work with a lot of the people up there, and they also deserve the award.”
Avila was nominated by Susan Perkins, assistant director of Transportation/Grounds.
“He demonstrates his commitment by working in a wonderfully cooperative way with schools and district sites,” Perkins said of Avila. “He gives each situation a complete inspection, identifies the lowest-risk treatment options available and follows through on his work with exceptional diligence.”
Avila was praised for tirelessly conducting safety trainings and educating other employees on the importance of keeping schools critter-free in the safest manner possible. He is so devoted to his job, Perkins said, that he once returned to Long Beach in the middle of his Mammoth vacation to address an important issue at a school. He was key in designing and creating a beautiful reading garden for students at Los Cerritos Elementary School this year. He’s also a talented cook and treats co-workers to his chile verde and cakes.
The other eight finalists were Joanne Begley, staff secretary at Tucker/Student Health Services; Dawn Couch, office supervisor at Lakewood; Teresa Cullen, office supervisor at Prisk; Emil Espejo, campus security officer at Lakewood; Gloria Gilmore, plant supervisor at Browning; Kathy Shabel, payroll technician; Rhasheda Slayton, plant supervisor at Renaissance; and Melissa Wolney, behavior intervention supervisor at Buffum TLC.
The remainder of this year’s nominees were Kurt Atkins, production center supervisor at Nutrition Services; Cheryl Dennison, office supervisor at Cubberley; Claudia Flores, staff secretary at Tucker; Christa Guntner, instructional aide-special at Tincher; Tiffany Lopez Alvarado, instructional aide-special at Buffum TLC; Ana Moya, school support secretary at Buffum TLC; Ivan Salas, instructional aide-special at Hamilton; Paul Vargas, custodian at Whittier; and Cynthia Williams, instructional aide-special at Tucker ACT.
Avila and fellow honorees will be recognized at a June 20 Board of Education meeting.