Burbank’s Teacher of the Year Darla Gerharter, Firefighter of the Year Eric Jueden, City Employee of the Year David Kriske and Police Officer of the Year Tim Dyrness were all honored by the Burbank Elks Lodge #1497 on Wednesday, January 28.
Several firefighters, police officers, educators and city employees attended the Sixth Annual Burbank Community Service Awards, in support of their fellow honorees.
Gerharter, a Resource Specialist teacher at Walt Disney Elementary School was recognized as Burbank Unified’s 2014 Teacher of the Year.
“Darla is not only an expert in terms of instructional delivery, she is highly respected and generally beloved by her colleagues, supervisors, students and families,” commented BUSD Assistant Superintendent of Instruction, Dr. Tom Kissinger. “Darla is a perfect example of what makes Burbank Unified School District a great place for kids to grow and learn.”
Gerharter grew up in Hawaii and moved to California to attend UCLA. She started working for the district in 1999 as a substitute teacher and served as a one-on-one aide for special education students.
Gerharter received her Master’s degree in special education from California State University, Northridge, and as a Resource Specialist teacher, has worked at Miller, Emerson and Disney Elementary schools. Gerharter is currently working on her administrative credential and second masters through Concordia University.
“She is tireless in her dedication. You can see her at parent and community events. You can see Darla helping struggling students to ensure their success even when they are not in her class,” commented Disney Elementary Principal Melissa Kistler, in advance of the banquet. “She constantly thinks of ways to make school a positive experience for anyone stepping foot on our campus. She is one of our main ‘go to’ people.”
“At Walt Disney Elementary School, there’s a definite feeling of home. It has to do with the charm and setting of our school and the sense of family that we have created with parents, students and staff,” added Kistler. “Darla Gerharter is key to the charm and success of our wonderful school.”
“The Burbank Fire Department has a proud tradition of annually selecting a Firefighter of the Year. The qualities that we look for are: dedication to duty, strong work ethic and a positive influence infused into the department which is created by a positive attitude,” commented Burbank Fire Chief Tom Lenehan. “Captain Eric Jueden exemplifies all of these qualities and is an outstanding choice for Firefighter of the Year.”
Jueden is a 20 year veteran of the BFD and has been a Captain for eight and one-half years. Lenehan praised Jueden’s integrity, strong morals, dedication and incredible work ethic.
“Eric is a true student of the fire service, continually striving to better himself and the department,” continued Lenehan.
“Over the past year Eric has accomplished many goals including the re-implementation of the department’s Technical Rescue Program and purchase of necessary equipment. He led the department-wide instruction and guidelines of Low Angle Rope Rescue Operations (LARRO) and worked with Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) Specification, development and computer documentation of new structure turnouts and wildland/rescue jackets.”
“He led the department in Company-level training specifically in residential electrical emergencies and worked with BWP in the development of training curriculum for the department as well as the purchase of necessary equipment to help mitigate these types of emergencies.”
“Finally and most importantly, he worked on the continued development of an Urban Search and Rescue (USAR) Continuing Education for the department,” added Lenehan. “In the event of a major emergency or earthquake this keeps our community safer.”
“In conclusion, Captain Eric Jueden is an excellent selection for this year’s Firefighter of the Year and is outstanding ambassador for the Burbank Fire Department,” concluded Lenehan. “I hope one day in the future to welcome him as a member of my command staff.”
City Employee of the Year Kriske has worked for the City of Burbank for more than 12 years, and Burbank is his hometown. He has lived here his entire life, except for the time he spent away at college.
Kriske was introduced by Burbank Community Development Manager Joy Forbes.
“David has worked his way up from Assistant Transportation Planner, earning promotions in the Community Development Department and is now the Deputy City Planner in charge of Transportation Planning,” said Forbes. “But that title doesn’t begin to explain what he does.”
“Kriske is responsible for all of the transit operations in the City including our commuter bus program and our senior and disabled bus system which provides excellent service for those most in need in our community, serving over 350,000 persons per year.”
“David manages an annual budget of almost 10 million with over 25 employees and oversees projects that help make it easier to travel throughout the City – whether you’re in a car, on a bike or just want to walk to your favorite restaurant – David knows the short cut.”
“With David’s knowledge and exceptional grant writing abilities, the City has received more than 560 million in revenue,” continued Forbes. “These are for projects that either wouldn’t have happened without the grants or would have required taking funds away from other important projects and staffing in the City.”
“David always seems to deal with controversial projects, such as the barricades being installed in the neighborhood around Stevenson. It’s a real testament to what kind of person he is when many may disagree with his suggestions, but they can’t question his integrity and honesty,” added Forbes. “He has a calm demeanor and our residents respect him, whether it’s delivering flyers to the elementary school or taking time to help someone at the counter.”
“His greatest skill is taking very complex information and relaying that to the public, committees, and City Council in an understandable way. Well, I guess his greatest skill is actually understanding it in the first place,” laughed Forbes. “But he can work with engineers and speak their language and then translate it to a media studio executive and then to an accountant. The I-5 project is another example – David is THE staff member who is keeping this all coordinated and forcing Caltrans to communicate w/ the Burbank community.”
“I’m so happy to have him in my department, and we’re so lucky to have him in the City of Burbank,” concluded Forbes.
Police Chief Scott LaChasse introduced 2015 Police Officer of the Year Dyrness. Dyrness began with the BPD as a police recruit in March 1988 and has served the City and police department in many capacities.
Dyrness has been a School Resource Officer, a Patrol Officer and has worked in Vice/Narcotics and the ASaLT (Allied State and Local Task Force). He has also worked as a K-9 handler on patrol, in Observer Air Support and as a Motors Instructor and a Mentor.
Currently, Dyrness serves in the Traffic Bureau as a Motors Officer. He has also graduated from University of LaVerne with a B.S. in Business Administration.
“Team Player does not adequately describe the contribution Tim has made to the Traffic Bureau,” commented LaChasse.
More than 100 members of the Burbank community, police and fire departments, along with City and school officials attended the annual awards banquet. Dinner was served by members of Boy Scout Troop 210.