BUENA PARK, CA – Pendleton School special education teachers Kimberly Ulangca and Suzanne Huerta are passionate about boosting students’ social skills and igniting their passion in academics.

Their efforts in improving Pendleton School’s Special Education program have earned them the Above and Beyond Award from the North Orange County Special Education Local Plan Areas (SELPA). The award is given to special education teachers who are making great strides for their students, encouraging them to learn and grow.

Huerta was named the 2019-20 honoree and Ulangca was named the 2020-21 winner.

Ulangca and Huerta work together in finding new ways to help their students focus on schoolwork while building their social skills. Huerta said that allowing her students to have sensory objects on-hand helps them channel their attention in a singular direction, allowing for fewer classroom disruptions.

“I’m always trying to find new ways to help my students focus on their academic work, yet still get their energy out,” Huerta said.

Every Thursday, Ulangca’s and Huerta’s students are given two hours of collaborative playtime, which allows their students to enjoy themselves while learning to work together. Ulangca said this weekly event is a great way for her students to learn about sharing, working in teams and building empathy for others.

“Suzanne and I work hard to meet the needs of our students because each one is so individual and different that we try to meet each one where they need us most.” Ulangca said. “We know that if our students are doing well socially and emotionally, they will always do better academically.”

“I’m just excited for our school, because these awards are a testament to the amazing teachers and staff we have here at Pendleton School,” Principal Shin Park said.

Ulangca and Huerta will be congratulated for their hard work during a virtual ceremony on April 6.

“We are very proud of Ms. Huerta and Mrs. Ulangca for their brilliant work with our students, making sure they’re meeting their academic and social-emotional needs as well,” Superintendent Dr. Ramon Miramontes said. “It’s a great honor to have two SELPA Above and Beyond Award-winners at Buena Park School District.”


BUENAPARK_SELPA1: Pendleton School Special Education teacher Kimberly Ulangca reviews a math lesson with one of her students, using colorful bear figurines as visual aids. Ulangca’s stellar work ethic has earned her the 2020-21 Above and Beyond Award from the North Orange County Special Education Local Plan Areas.

BUENAPARK_SELPA2: Pendleton School Special Education teacher Suzanne Huerta gives a lesson about thunder and lightning to one of her students. Huerta was named the 2019-20 Above and Beyond Award from the North Orange County Special Education Local Plan Areas.