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December 9, 2021

Laguna Beach Unified School District names 2021-22 employees of the year

LAGUNA BEACH, Calif. - Laguna Beach Unified School District (LBUSD) held their annual nominations for Teacher of the Year and Classified Employee of the Year. Megan Bhaskaran, a Social Studies teacher at Thurston Middle School, was selected as Teacher of the Year, while Kelli Merda, District Office Human Resources Assistant, was chosen as the overall Classified Employee of the Year.

Tuesday morning, both Megan and Kelli were surprised in the workplace by staff with balloons and a personalized banner to congratulate them on their incredible accomplishments. Each winner will also be recognized at an upcoming school board meeting.

Thurston’s Principal, Joe Vidal, was thrilled for Megan, “Thurston is proud to recognize one of our very best! Since joining the Thurston family, Megan has shown to be an open, collaborative, and reflective staff member who naturally contributes to our community's positive culture and climate. Whether it's serving on a dozen different committees, hosting Model UN weekend events, managing online schools, or delivering daily dynamic lessons, she does so with eloquence, a sense of humor, and passion. Above all, her genuine love for supporting all kids is evident in all that she does. Congratulations! We appreciate all that you do.”

Mike Conlon, Assistant Superintendent of Human Resources, was ecstatic for Kelli, “Kelli plays an integral role in the coordination of day to day support for students by working with sites to ensure vacancies are filled. She thinks creatively to complete this daily staffing puzzle all while being the face of the District Office greeting staff and community members with a warm smile.  Kelli epitomizes our commitment to every student, every day by working diligently and caring so deeply about the successful running of District operations. I know I speak for all LBUSD employees by saying I am honored to have her as part of the Laguna family and cannot thank her enough for her dedication to her work. Well deserved Kelli!”

LBUSD also recognized Classified Employees of the Year in specific categories, including Doug Bowman for custodial, maintenance, nutrition, and security services; Elizabeth Phillips for health and student services; and Margaret Warder for paraprofessional and instructional assistant.

The winners were selected through a district-wide nomination and voting process that was open to all certificated and classified school employees.

Classified Employee of the Year Celebration with Banner


Teacher of the Year Celebration with Banner


Classified Employees of the Year standing together and smiling