For the 2022-23 school year, San Benito County Office of Education welcomes four new administrators to the team, including two directors, an Alternative Education Principal and a coordinator.
The addition of the new staff members will allow SBCOE to expand services and support students across the county, says a press release from the county office of education.
Gwen Baquiran will serve as the Director of Student Services, leading a number of programs including Foster Youth, Homeless and Positive Behavior Support and Intervention (PBIS), says the press release. Baquiran taught in both general education and special education classrooms before becoming a program specialist and providing coaching support for teachers.
She was a member of the San Benito County SELPA team prior to leading Hollister School District’s Special Education Department for the past two years.
“As a champion for students and a firm believer that every student deserves a level playing field, Ms. Baquiran Gwen is committed to advancing equitable practices for all students,” the press release says.
As SBCOE’s new Director of Intervention and Equity, Melissa Casas will oversee migrant education, Social Emotional Learning and mental health support, among other programs, says the press release.
Casas began her educational career as a school counselor before serving as a Special Education Program Specialist and a Coordinator of Special Education at San Benito High School. Most recently, she worked at Morgan Hill Unified School District as the Coordinator of Equity Programs.
“Casas’ work reflects her strong belief that all students deserve the opportunity to receive a high-quality education regardless of their background,” said the county office.
Scott Ervin, SBCOE’s new Alternative Education Principal, will oversee all four Alternative Education Programs, including Pinnacles Community School, San Benito Juvenile Court School, San Andreas Continuation School and Santa Ana Opportunity School.
Ervin’s career began as an English teacher before he moved into academic administration as an Assistant Principal and Principal, says the press release. Most recently, he served as an Alternative Education Principal in Coalinga. As a graduate of an alternative school himself, Ervin “understands the unique needs of students and strives to provide a supportive environment where all students are successful,” says the release.
Shawna Picha-Freitas joined SBCOE in May as the Human Resources Credentials Coordinator, says the press release. Picha-Freitas served as an Instructional aide before working as the Instructional Support Coordinator at Hollister Prep School, where she performed a variety of Human Resources duties, developed after-school intervention programs and provided curriculum support for staff. “Ms. Picha-Freitas’ experience in the classroom and in Human Resources allows her to work collaboratively with districts across San Benito County to ensure classrooms are staffed with top-notch teachers,” the press release adds.