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GUSD's Andrea Verdin was named the employee winner of the Excellence in Education Award by the Merced County Office of Education

Gustine Unified School District named Andrea Verdin the employee winner of the Excellence in Education Award. She works as a secretary at Gustine High School and got her start as a volunteer for the district. 

“It was really nice winning the award," said Verdin. "I really love my job and students are my number one priority. Maybe I’m able to give some students the extra support they aren’t receiving at home and that is what’s most important to me."

​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​The Merced County Excellence in Education program began in 2006 as a partnership between Educational Employees Credit Union and the Merced County Office of Education. This program showcases some of Merced County's top teachers, administrators and school employees.

Winners from school districts in Merced County are selected as finalists, and one teacher, one administrator and one school employee receives the county winner award. Each county winner receives a sculpture and a framed photo of them with their superintendent.

Verdin was born in Los Angeles and moved to the Bay Area in her youth. After she had her first child she moved near Gustine, where she found a community that was really passionate about their children's education.

“I really like Gustine. Everyone comes together when someone in the community needs help. Everyone also knows each other really well, and I really like that,” said Verdin. 

Verdin was a stay-at-mom of three children when she started volunteering at her children's schools. When her youngest started school, she dedicated her entire day to volunteering and would be at the school from nine in the morning till when school let out. After seeing her dedication through volunteering, the district offered her an opportunity to become an employee and she didn’t hesitate to jump on the opportunity. 

Volunteering and working at your child’s school comes with its positives and negatives, but Verdin believes that it's worth it to be closer to your kids and you get a better understanding about your child’s education.

“When they’re in elementary school they want you there, it gets a little bit more tricky when they get to middle school and high school," said Verdin. "They think if they get in trouble you’re going to find out about it right away, but it’s completely worth it. You also start to understand what teachers and staff go through. A lot of time there isn’t a lot of money, and teachers have to buy supplies from their own pocket. Volunteering really gave me a better perspective about what they had to go through."