Maria Tapia, a Librarian at Ocean View Junior High School in Oxnard and president of CSEA's Ocean View Chapter 599 was honored in Washington, D.C. as one of the 2018 Recognizing Inspirational School Employees (RISE) Award winners. The award was given to five individuals from across the country who are doing extraordinary and inspirational things in their schools and communities to promote quality education, foster positive learning environments, and ensure student success.
"As wonderful as this feels for me, the greatest honor and pleasure is seeing the smiles on our students’ faces each day," Tapia said.
Tapia has a keen ability to connect with people of all ages. As a librarian, she excels at helping students with the research they need to do and excels at helping them solve problems. But where she truly shines is in making the library a place where students can go to resolve their concerns.
"My library doors are always open," she said. "It’s a place where students know everything will be ok. I provide a sanctuary where students can come to tackle issues dealing with their education or their personal lives. Those of us in education know that sometimes kids just need a place where they can feel safe."
Tapia served the students and community of Ocean View School District in Oxnard, California as a paraeducator for more than 15 years before becoming the full-time librarian at Ocean View Jr. High School a couple years ago. Since then, her love of children and passion for reading have helped create something special and inspiring inside the walls of the school library.
"When a kid knows that you care about them, they feel safer and they feel more of a connection," said Heather Hendrix, principal of Ocean View Junior High School. "And all of the kids that go in there and spend time with her in the library, that's how they feel."
Tapia's passion for her work and caring for students made her a clear choice for recognition. Last year she was named one of CSEA's Members of the Year. This year she was honored with the RISE Award. At the Washington, D.C. ceremony on May 9th, Tapia was joined by four other award recipients from around the country, along with distinguished guests such as Congresswoman Julia Brownley. Before receiving her award, she was introduced by Association President Ben Valdepeña.
"Maria has built a sanctuary for students, where they are able to relax, discover, collaborate and learn," Valdepeña said. "What once was a large room full of books is now a magical place: A library where students know they can study and complete schoolwork, socialize and play games with friends, have some needed quiet time with a good book, and a safe place they can go on one of those terrible, horrible, no good, very bad days that junior high students often encounter. With love and dedication, Maria has made that room full of books the most beloved place on campus."
Every year, CSEA members are recognized for their extraordinary contributions to their union and the students they serve.
Member of the Year Award
CSEA Life Member and Honor Roll
California Classified Employee of the Year Award
California Community Colleges Classified Employees of the Year
Activist of the Year Award
Humanitarian of the Year Award
The Walter H. Blice Award
The Victory Club Circle of Stars
Membership Unity Program & Award
Recognizing Inspirational School Employees (RISE) Award