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Dimas, El Portal Shine In State Spotlight
0515 DIMAS
El Portal Middle Schools Amber Dimas was recently named as a 2013 Classified School Employee of the Year for her work ethic, dedication to students and contributions to the success of the school. Marg Jackson/The Times

If you ask her, she will tell you “others are more deserving” of the honor.

But if you ask those around her, they will tell you Amber Dimas absolutely deserves the recognition she received as the Classified School Employee of the Years through the California Department of Education.

Dimas was honored in the Office and Technical Support category, nominated by El Portal Middle School Principal Mark Vos.

It is the second significant state honor for the school – El Portal recently was named a California Distinguished School – and Dimas has the individual honor for her work at the middle school.

She will receive her state award at a special luncheon on Thursday, May 23 and a county award will be presented at a dinner on June 6.

Dimas serves as the secretary to both Vos and assistant principal Mike Gaston at El Portal, as well as working with the Associated Student Body officers and handling a variety of other tasks.

“It’s hard to put into words,” Dimas admitted of a ‘job description’ at the school. “There are so many different things, teacher issues, student needs, and technically, I guess, I’m the office manager.”

Dimas has spent eight years at El Portal and prior to that, worked in special education and human resources at the San Joaquin County Office of Education.

She and husband Jason have three children, Alexa, who is a sophomore at the University of Nevada, Reno; son Tad, a senior at Escalon High School; and daughter Taylor, an EHS freshman.

“I was obviously surprised,” Dimas said of finding out that not only was she nominated at the county and state level, but won them both.

“There’s so many great people I work with,” she said. “A lot of people that deserve it before me … but I am very honored. Very honored.”

Vos said he hadn’t nominated anyone before but felt the time was right for Dimas to receive some recognition.

“She does a great job and she is really the site CEO,” Vos said, chuckling. “I think what sets her apart is the way she deals with the kids here. She makes special connections with the kids.”

Vos said she finds a way to balance ‘the hammer’ when students need to be brought back to focus as well as being a shoulder to lean on when they need that.

“Her heart is for kids and our staff feels it too,” he said.

For her part, Dimas said she “loves kids” and couldn’t imagine a job that didn’t include them as a major part of it.

Vos and Dimas also were happy to share the news that El Portal Middle School – by virtue of an increase in API test scores and improving the scores in all subgroups – was awarded the honor as a Distinguished School. Vos traveled to Sacramento for a special presentation on Friday, and students will be treated to ice cream this week for their hard work in helping bring the school the state recognition.

“We have slowly made a climb (in test scores), and over the last four years, we’ve really seen it take off,” Vos explained. “We were 805 last year, we jumped up to 823 this year and that’s just a confirmation of what the staff is doing and our ‘kids come first’ culture on the campus.

“That’s what I’m extremely proud of, that snowballs into higher achievement.”