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Golden Bell Awards
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Golden Bell Award

The Golden Bell Award is an annual event sponsored by the Marin County Office of Education to honor outstanding Marin County educators. In 2009 the award process included classified staff nominees from every school district in the county.

COM classified staff were asked to nominate staff they believed had made an outstanding contribution to the college community based on the following:

  • Extra Effort (Goes above and beyond what’s required)
  • Quality of Work
  • Consistently Positive Attitude
  • Always Dependable
  • Cooperation with Others
  • Outstanding Ideas

A selection committee composed of three former Senators reviewed the 15 nominations received and recommended that Becky Reetz and Kathleen Kirkpatrick have their names forwarded by the President's Office as the first College of Marin classified staff selected for the Golden Bell.

2009 COM Golden Bell Nominees

Congratulations to all the COM Golden Bell Nominees for their outstanding dedication and committment to College of Marin and our students! Following each name are excerpts from the Golden Bell Nomination Form(s).

Andrea Hunter, Financial Aid

As the Financial Aid Specialist, Andrea works hard to ensure that our students are receiving the financial support they need to reach their educational goals. Andrea has also worked tirelessly to provide input on the design and development of the new Banner system and has actively tested the system and provided feedback. In the past few years she earned her Bachelor’s Degree and is now in a Masters program. This is no small feat considering she has been working full time as she has been finishing her education. Andrea has also volunteered her time to participate in numerous committees. Her work on the Governance Review Council was particularly notable as their group was charged with writing the document that defined shared governance at College of Marin. Additionally, Andrea has served as a Classified Senate Officer for the past several years and has donated her time, effort and considerable talents to many of the projects the Senate has worked on. Andrea is a true asset to the College of Marin.

Barbara St. John, Maintenance and Operations

Barbara is always pleasant, positive and easy to work with at all times. She is incredibly knowledgeable about all aspects of the college – from her specific department, Maintenance and Operations – to committees, leadership, unions, interactions with departments and the campus as a whole. She deals with every single department and almost all personnel. When I call her about any situation, she is always polite, courteous and pleasant, no matter how busy she is or how busy the department is at the time. I have served with her on several committees (Health and Safety Committee, Classified Senate and CSEA) and she is an asset on all levels --- she volunteers to do projects, completes the work by deadline and it is done above what is required. She should be considered the “backbone” of this college.

Becky Reetz*, Tutoring Center

Becky Reetz is always RIGHT THERE for the students. In addition to having a desk that is right in the midst of the Tutoring Center – she is, like her office set up, at the heart of the program. She works with the tutors to recruit them, train them, support them, encourage them and acknowledge their contributions. Becky has expanded and improved the program from when she was hired to today and she continues her own education which makes her both a wonderful role model and a better resource for College of Marin. Her program provides a safety net that many students desperately need to succeed in community college. If there’s a problem, she takes care of it immediately with professionalism and a cheerful attitude. Becky’s determination to constantly improve her already great program is inspiring to all around her. Becky is always involved in various committees, Classified Senate and is a wonderful staff advocate. She knows what is happening on all levels of the campus and maintains excellent relationships with faculty, students, managers, staff and the public. We are fortunate to have staff of this quality.

Brian Chi, Information Technology

Brian consistently contributes his extensive knowledge of computers for the improvement of the working ability of everyone at College of Marin. His superior quality of work combined with an always upbeat approach to any situation makes Brian welcome everywhere. Friendly cooperation and his great attitude coupled with going the extra mile means that everybody smiles when Brian is on the job.

Gordon Hedemark, Disabled Students Programs and Services

Gordon is always going beyond the call of duty in order to provide the most excellent services to students with disabilities in DSPS. He is kind, generous, dedicated and in general, a real treasure! Gordon is not just dedicated to his students, he is always there to lend a helping hand to those he works with in the department, and rises like a superstar any time he hears the call for help. Short stated: Gordon is fantastic!

Jeff Peck, Information Technology

Jeff Peck works tirelessly behind the scenes in the Information Technology Department developing computer systems, confirming the accuracy of data and ensuring that deadlines for state and national reports the college is required to submit are met. He has successfully seen the college through two major computer conversions during his 27 years at the college. Jeff has been an integral member of the team in the most recent computer conversion to the Banner system.  He frequently works on critical projects with short deadlines and does so without complaint. His knowledge of college systems and operations coupled with his attention to detail and ability to analyze information make him a great asset to College of Marin. He is always willing to answer questions and help us understand the technical part of our job better. Although much of his work is unseen by the college community, we benefit daily from his efforts.

Karen Van Kriedt, Community Education and Services

Karen demonstrates a high degree of leadership in her job. She is called upon to work fairly independently which requires her to constantly make judgment calls and decisions. She works closely with Community Education instructors to develop a rich and interesting schedule of classes four times a year. This requires working with a huge variety of people, scheduling classes, helping to develop course outlines, tracking hiring and meeting constant deadlines. She performs these tasks with calm resolve, intelligence and finesse. She is always on the lookout for new program ideas that would be of interest to the community and improve the CES Department. Karen believes in collaboration and models that in everything she does at the college. Under her leadership our CSEA chapter was transformed into an organization that was open and transparent and sought to represent the will of its members. Karen’s commitment to College of Marin, to its Mission, its programs and particularly to classified staff is consistently above and beyond. I believe the leadership she demonstrated in her three years as CSEA President and the lasting changes she brought to the organization a well the dedication and vision she brings to her job have made her an extremely valuable asset to College of Marin.

Kathleen Kirkpatrick*, Organizational Development and Planning

I am nominating Kathleen Kirkpatrick for this award because of her incredible dedication and hard work she has done to support the College of Marin. The work she has done in the area of improving, structuring and streamlining the shared governance process was positively reflected in our report from WASC. Her work has empowered classified staff to take part in the college’s decision-making process and has also showcased the professionalism of the classified staff. Kathleen works at the same level of integrity for all areas of college life she touches, including but not limited to the faculty, the administration, her department and state-wide organizations. For instance, she is currently shepherding the updating of COM’s policies and procedures which are being completely rewritten. She has taken on this huge, laborious task in the same way that I have seen her handle just about everything: with integrity, diligence, attention to detail and inclusiveness. In addition to her work at the college, Kathleen has taken on the additional responsibility of being the President of the Classified Senate. Her outstanding leadership has kept staff engaged and informed as our college has undergone tremendous change. Kathleen exemplifies dedication and professionalism and the College of Marin would not be where it is today without her tremendous work.

Laurie Loeffler, Workforce Development, College and Community Partnerships

Laurie is a true asset to the College of Marin, specifically to the Workforce Development and Community Partnerships Division. She continually goes out of her way to make sure that great things happen in her department. When working with multiple outside agencies/college partnerships she is daily going above and beyond to meet the needs of the individuals involved. There are many evenings I find Laurie burning the midnight oil to make sure that things get done. Because of her leadership, great customer service skills and can do attitude, things don’t fall through the cracks.

Lupe Oropeza, Maintenance & Operations

Ms. Oropeza has set the standard for all to emulate. As the District’s only staff painter, she has worked diligently to enhance the learning and working environment for the students, faculty and staff. Her efforts to upgrade the physical appearance of college facilities by appropriate coordination of paints, floor and wall trim has been exceptional. An example of this effort was the selection and color coordination of paints and carpeting for the Learning Resource Center which included corridors, classrooms, library, tutoring and media centers. She accomplished the painting of the corridors and classrooms flawlessly, adding new life to the 40 plus year old building. She has also taken the time to review color schemes in restrooms and made significant color pallet changes that were inexpensive and reduced graffiti in these areas and made these spaces more pleasant. Ms. Oropeza in a short time has single handedly made meaningful noteworthy efforts to enhance learning at College of Marin.

Melody Creel, ODP/Research Office

Melody is one of the unsung heroes of College of Marin. While most colleges have an office with a research staff that provides data and reports so the college can make evidence-based decisions, we have Melody, a one-person Research Office! Melody works mostly behind the scenes, but the information and data she mines, collects, analyzes and presents is crucial in so many areas that affect students, faculty, departments and the college as a whole. Program Review, the EMP and the Strategic Plan are just three examples of areas that Melody will impact with her attention to detail and quality work. She is one of the few people who works directly with administrators, faculty and staff on a regular basis. Her knowledge and customer service is acknowledged and appreciated by all who work with her and she is well respected throughout the college.

Patricia Torres, Testing Office

Patricia is a committed fighter for the rights of classified employees. She has served on the Re-classification Committee and the Equity Study Committee. She is currently on the Student Access and Success Committee. She has revamped the Testing Office and was the initiator of computerized testing by doing research and working with faculty and others to finalize the project. She always has the best interest of students in mind and speaks frequently about supporting what they need. She puts words into action by going out to the high schools for testing, works with non-credit and credit ESL students, and is a Puente mentor on our campus.

Rowena Southard, English Department

Rowena’s approach to her position as Instructional Specialist shows her patience, generosity and expertise at helping students improve their writing skills. She is a clear and effective communicator, and can always identify and apply her knowledge to a student’s primary needs, but she is also approachable, friendly and smart, which makes students want to seek her advice. On paper, Rowena’s comments to students are always specific, encouraging and gracious, which makes her an outstanding responder to student work. In person or on paper, Rowena gives students the idea that “they can do it”, which is an overlooked, but essential component of effective teaching.

Tom Hudgens, Office of Instructional Management

Though Tom has not yet worked with the COM District many years to earn longevity status he possesses caliber qualities that demonstrate a high level of professionalism and work ethics. He always gets whatever task he is assigned accomplished in a prompt and efficient manner. He will go out of his way to help all who approach him which is not easy when working in such a hectic multifarious office environment. He willingly works overtime when requested over weekends without complaints. Tom is always courteous, good natured, and a person that is always pleasant to work with. Tom is an employee who is a benefit to all at the College of Marin.

Vickie Lamke, Office of Student Affairs

Vicke Lamke is an outstanding classified staff member who deserves recognition. She has been a dedicated worker at College of Marin in an instructional support role or over 20 years in the area of Student Services. She is a major contributor to all the many various Student Services events and can always be relied upon to volunteer and to help with activities that may extend into the weekend or off campus. She is always positive and quick to assist everyone at College of Marin from the administrators, students, faculty, co-workers, and the public. She is extremely well liked by the students she serves as well as all her co-workers. Vickie is an important contact with her in depth knowledge of the many varied and diverse resources our college has to offer ---especially for the public who need direction and orientation. Vickie is always a team player and a delight to work with on any campus project. She displays an enthusiastic and energetic attitude even when a task is simply routine.

*2009 COM Golden Bell Classified Staff Award Winner and County of Marin Classified Staff Golden Bell Nominee