Melinda Torres of OSEA Coos Bay Chapter 33 is 2022 Oregon ESP of the Year

Please join OSEA in congratulating Melinda Torres, Oregon’s 2022 Education Support Professional of the Year!

Melinda is a member of Coos Bay Chapter 33 and the liaison supporting students in foster care or experiencing homelessness for the Coos Bay School District. She manages the ARK (Keeping At Risk Kids Afloat) Project, a school-based program for youth and families experiencing housing instability, and provides case management for those in the program.

“Melinda is an amazing employee and an amazing human being,” said Chapter 33 President Valerie Eiselein. “She works a lot of hours and is extremely dedicated to making sure homeless kids have a place to go. She does excellent work for our kids and our community.”

Oregon’s Education Support Professional of the Year award is the result of an OSEA-backed bill passed by the Oregon Legislature in May 2019. Paula Steinweg of Jewell Chapter 145 was the state’s first honoree.

District officials recognize Melinda as the driving force in its ability to expand services and to build outreach and community partnerships. Founded in 2009, the ARK drop-in center is open to all Coos Bay residents. It provides basic needs, crisis intervention and advocacy, essential support services and educational opportunities to youth ages 0-21 and their families.

“Congratulations to Melinda on this statewide recognition. She makes a difference in her community and we are all super excited for her,” said OSEA President Lisa Gourley. “Every time a classified employee is recognized for the work they’re doing, we celebrate!”

As the recipient of Oregon’s Education Support Professional of the Year award, Melinda has received a monetary award of $5,000 and an award plaque. A matching plaque and banner were awarded to her district to mark Melinda‘s achievements and contributions to the community.

“Melinda‘s outstanding work and dedication to her students are truly remarkable,” said Gov. Kate Brown. “She works day in and day out to expand programs that benefit the students and families of the Coos Bay community. Congratulations, Melinda, on this great achievement. Coos Bay School District is so lucky to have you.”