Park City High School custodian Candelario “Cande” Ponce was recognized as Utah’s 2019 Outstanding Education Support Professional of the Year during a surprise assembly at the high school today, Tuesday, Nov. 20. Park City School District administrators along with leaders from both the Utah School Employees Association (USEA) and the Park City Classified Employees Association (PCCEA) joined students and staff in honoring Ponce as their unsung hero.
Education support professionals (ESP) are the support staff — clerical services, custodial and maintenance, food services, health and student services, paraeducators, security services, skilled trade services, technical services and transportation services — who work tirelessly to ensure students are healthy, safe, engaged, challenged and supported.
As the winner of USEA’s award, Ponce will be Utah’s nominee to the National Education Association’s ESP of the Year. He will attend the national conference in March 2019 in Las Vegas. Ponce will also travel throughout the state to meet members, raise awareness of ESP issues and advocate on their behalf.
Ponce has been a custodian at Park City High since 2009. “Schools today are filled with many young people who are hurting emotionally and struggling with self-identity,” says PCHS biology teacher Ed Mulick. “To have a humble, caring role model like Cande present in our school and taking interest in others, helps create an environment of security, peace, and acceptance…his strong dedication to his job represents the essence of his character.”
A father of five, he and his wife own a successful food business open 12 hours a day, seven days a week – all while working full-time as a school custodian. “All who know Cande and his calm and humble way tend to gravitate to him,” says Maryann Gilmore, Area 4 USEA Executive Board member.