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Two Segerstrom employees receive SAUSD Longevity Recognition Award

Image Courtesy of SAUSD
Sean Decker and Monica Mejia have received the Longevity Recognition Awards for their 25 years.

Several weeks ago, SAUSD recognized the monumental work done by many employees across the District. The award is for milestones of 25, 30, 35, and 40 years working in SAUSD. Segerstrom is honored to have Sean Decker and Monica Mejia receive this award. They have provided Santa Ana with 25 years of dedication.

Only a few staff members have been at Segerstrom almost since day one. For 17 years, Mr. Decker has been teaching government and economics at Segerstrom. He has been known for his outgoing and friendly personality. Mr. Decker’s start in SAUSD stems from two decades ago as a middle school teacher.

“In 1997, there weren’t many social study teaching positions available in Southern California. So I was placed as a student teacher at Lathrop Intermediate School,” Decker recalled. “And I was lucky enough when my student teaching was done, that my master teacher at the time was applying for a job at Saddleback High School. He got hired and there was a position opened at Lathrop Intermediate. The principal at the time in Lathrop came up to me very informally and asked, ‘Hey would you like the job?’ And like any new college graduate said, ‘Yes, I’d love a job.’ And twenty-five years later, I am here.”

Soon, he would teach at Mendez Intermediate. A decade later, he was intrigued by an emerging fundamental high school. Prepared for a new challenge, Mr. Decker applied to the newly built Segerstrom campus. Unbeknownst to most, he joined Segerstrom after his second application. Due to Segerstrom’s initial lack of finances, his first application was declined. After Segerstrom’s first year concluded, his application was accepted, becoming the teacher many seniors know and love.

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“My most positive memory is just the students here at Santa Ana Unified. The students and the families here, I think, are overall positive [and] very appreciative of what teachers do. From what I understand, from my limited experience in other districts and from friends that teach at other districts, that’s not always the case.”

Mr. Decker is grateful for the positivity here at Segerstrom. He has shared his enthusiasm and optimism throughout his twenty-five years of teaching. He is proud of teaching because it is something he is passionate about and he enjoys seeing that same passion in others.

“I am most proud that my students have gone on to not just graduate high school. But many of them have gone on to graduate college, to have fulfilling careers, and also to be active, engaged, informed citizens in our democratic nation. I have former students from Segerstrom [who] work in Congressman Lou Correa’s office as a staff member. I have former students who are professional political campaign managers and strategists. I have had students who worked for the Speaker of the House. I have had former students who have worked for the President of the United States. So in that sense, I am proud that my students have gone on to accomplish a lot in their professional careers, especially anyone who goes into politics.”

Segerstrom counselor Mrs. Mejia has been at Segerstrom for about 12 years and she has made an overwhelming impact. She and Mr. Decker received their credentials in 1997 and have made SAUSD better in their separate ways. Mrs. Mejia’s noble beginnings in SAUSD began with a humble goal to give back to her community.

“In high school, I was in programs when I was at Saddleback. I was mentored by a lot of people in the community because my mom was a single parent, and I was [a first-generation student,]” Mrs. Mejia reminisced. “Back in the 80s, my mom didn’t know about college or anything, and since I was mentored by a lot of wonderful people in our community. I always wanted to give back because they gave back. I always wanted to come back to the place where I did my K-12. That’s why I picked SAUSD.”

During this time, Mrs. Mejia would maintain the motivation to learn and develop. This mindset would assist her in her decision to transfer from Saddleback High School to Mountain View Continuation High School. She had spent fifteen years at Mountain View, now known as Lorin Griset Academy. In 2006, Mrs. Mejia witnessed the historic California High School Exit Exam (CAHSEE). Until 2015, the CAHSEE would revoke diplomas for many students and kickstart a massive reform to the education system.

The same motivation would return in 2013 when she saw another opportunity.  The retirement of Segerstrom’s lead counselor, Jerry Wheeler, led Mrs. Mejia to join Segerstrom. Since then, she has been here with a cheerful attitude on campus. “Every day is my favorite memory, [every day] I learn something new,” she commented. “I work with amazing colleagues and wonderful students. I would say every day is very memorable to me.” This mindset amplifies Mrs. Mejia’s commitment to her students and pushes her to overcome challenges.

“I am most proud of how I’ve grown technologically. [The pandemic]… pushed me to learn new technology. I have to be into more of what is happening in the world technologically,” Mrs. Mejia described. “Technology isn’t hard. It takes time and patience to learn. One thing COVID taught me that I am proud of is that you have to take the time to move with the times.”

Segerstrom is proud to have such devoted staff members, with their expertise over the years and determination to support others. The Longevity Recognition Award is just one of the ways that we can acknowledge their hard work. Mr. Decker and Mrs. Mejia are phenomenal at their jobs that they truly love. They find their professions rewarding and have enjoyed their 25 years of work. They advise anyone who wants to become a teacher or a counselor to follow their heart and enjoy their work with pride, just as they do every single day.

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  • B

    BriannaDec 21, 2023 at 8:58 am

    Such a great story, so glad our staff are getting the recognition they deserve!

  • D

    DesireeDec 21, 2023 at 8:57 am

    I enjoyed and appreciated the recognition of Mr. Decker and Mrs. Mejia for all their dedication to Segerstrom! This article was well put together and I genuinely loved it!

  • F

    FernieDec 20, 2023 at 11:25 am

    So Cool! I love that we have amazing staff!