Six individuals were recognized at the May 26 Centurion Awards organized by National City Chamber of Commerce. Despite teachers and law enforcement among the featured honorees, a Uvalde, Texas school shooting that had occurred just two days earlier was only briefly mentioned.
National City Chamber of Commerce President Chad Matkowski did not talk about whether local teachers are able to adequately protect young students, or suggest how police would handle a similar situation if it were to occur in National City. Instead, he spoke of how valuable local teachers and the work they perform is to National City families.
“Education is one of the highest investments we can make in the community,” the business leader said.
Vice Mayor Marcus Bush, however, said he wanted to acknowledge the shooting without pointing fingers or politicizing the tragedy.
“Texas is a totally different state but we have to be thinking about what we can do,” Bush said.
National City police detective Colleen Stanich received the Hero of the Year award for her success in working with the Federal Bureau of Investigations San Diego Crimes Against Children squad to track down an abducted girl. In that case a 20-year old man had groomed the 11-year old girl into a sexual relationship before establishing a suicide pact with the young victim.
Stanich received a standing ovation after addressing the crowd.
Jacqueline Ma was proclaimed National School District’s Teacher of the Year in part for her ongoing commitment to extrapolating good work from students regardless of how tough an assignment might be.
“You inspire them to their best self, you believe in the potential of all students,” National School District Superintendent Leighangela Brady said to Ma and the listening attendees.
Alyssa Golden received the Professor of the Year award for Southwestern College. SWC Director of Dental Hygiene Gay Teel smiled at Golden, said she has “a passion for helping others” and thrives on helping her students.
“She loves to watch her students grow,” Teel said.
The room was filled with applause for all the award recipients: Stanich, Ma, Golden as well as National City Fire Captain Ronney Wilson who was named Saint Florian of the Year in honor of the the patron saint of firemen, Sweetwater High School Teacher of the Year Susan Mateo, and Integrity Charter School Teacher of the Year Melissa Wright.