Wednesday, November 25, 2015 • 12:14

Yvette Larrabee awarded Employee of the Year

Yvette Larrabee poses with Assistant School Principals Ali Parvic and Eric Solorzano. Standing behind them is Trent Smith, Administrator of the Year.
June 18, 2014
Valley Center resident Yvette Larrabee was honored with the prestigious title Employee of the Year for the Escondido Union School District for the academic school year 2013 – 2014.

There are 23 schools in the district. Each staff nominates a non-teaching position along with a teaching position for the Employee of the Year and Teacher of the Year awards. Three to four staff members are nominated by faculty. The nominations are presented to a panel for districtwide selection.

"My school principal asked me to attend a staff meeting and I was told I was nominated," said Larrabee. "Then one month later, I was called and told I had received the award. I was honored to be not only nominated, but selected. There are many other job descriptions that are considered such as instructional aides, librarian, electrician, janitor, nurses' office, and warehouse employees, so this was an honor."

The ceremony took place at the main office for Escondido, the Carolyn Gilbert Education Center. There, Larrabee was awarded with a certificate and presented with flowers. She was also given a plaque and a larger plaque was awarded to her from the District Office.

At the award ceremony, Hidden Valley Middle School Principal Trent Smith referred to Larrabee as a "tenacious, dedicated employee who cares for parents, teachers, and students."

For eight years, Larrabee has served as the Family/Parent Liaison for Hidden Valley Middle School in Escondido. There are 15 parent liaisons in 23 schools within the district. Initially, Larrabee was employed with the parent liaison program at three sites, then the district designated a full-time position at Hidden Valley Middle School.

As a Family/Parent Liaison, Larrabee coordinates parenting classes which includes parents' training classes and workshops and providing parent presentations. She teaches parents to become effective at-home academic coaches, which entails meeting with the student and parent after school in the home to establish a well-lit area with plenty of space. This selected space could even include a dining room table designated for a work-study area. The parent is shown how to assist the child in preparing for tests and completing homework assignments.

"It's something that they do together as team members," said Larrabee. "They find a balance. There is reciprocal communication between school and home."

According to Larrabee, awareness is pivotal for the middle-school students in knowing beforehand what to expect from high school, as well as college.

The program also allows students a unique way of interacting with school that doesn't involve work in the classroom. For instance, Nintendo games are projected on huge screens in the Little Theater where students take turns with improvisational skills.

For the eighth grade formal dance, the socially and economically disadvantaged are the focus.

"It's their turn to shine," Larrabee said. "It's a Cinderella mission when the fairy godmother spreads enough pixie dust to go around."

Through donations, the stage is transformed into a boutique in which girls are given formal gowns. Each female recipient receives two dresses, shoes, jewelry, and makeup. Males are given two shirts, ties, socks, and shoes.

Larrabee is also credited with implementing the program EPIC (Every Parent Involvement Counts). For six weeks, a series of workshops are offered to parents in which very rewarding morning and evening presentations are provided each week.

Larrabee is also an active PTSA member and served on the council for the Hidden Valley Middle School site. In addition, she teaches ESL (English as a second language) three times each week to 20 to 30 parents. She is active in girls' softball and has volunteered for the Little League for eight years. She has been involved in 4-H for two years. Larrabee juggles a busy schedule with attending school at night to acquire a Bachelor of Arts degree in political science.

Married for 17 years, Larrabee is the mother of two.

"Being a mother has changed my life," she said. "I take pride in being a parent."

As a parent liaison, Larrabee helps others better their parenting skills in preparing them for the upcoming stage of life. She emphasizes it's important to stay one step ahead of the game.

"My job is so rewarding," said Larrabee. "Every day I wake up, I look forward to going to work. This is a great place to work. The staff is wonderful. At the end of the day, I say fun time is over."

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