On Tuesday, November 14, the Placentia-Yorba Linda Unified School District (PYLUSD) Board of Education honored longtime Rio Vista Elementary School noon duty supervisor, Valerie Hibbard, with the You Are The Advantage Award. Valerie recently performed a remarkable, heroic act—she saved a young student from choking on campus.
The You Are the Advantage Award recognizes community members, organizations, and employees who embody the district’s four core values of excellence, collaboration, integrity, and innovation. It is the district’s top honor.
Valerie’s journey as a noon duty supervisor at Rio Vista began in the year 2002, the year her son entered the doors as a 1st grader. This would mark the beginning of an incredible journey that has spanned two whole decades. And Valerie’s connection to Rio Vista didn’t stop there. It has extended through her entire family as all of her grandchildren have found their home as Rio Vista Leopards. At one point, six members of Valerie’s family were simultaneously part of the Rio Vista family. Valerie’s home and heart truly embraced Rio Vista, and her legacy is woven into the school’s rich fabric.
“Valerie is not just remarkable for her deep Rio Vista roots, but also for the incredible qualities that make her a beloved noon duty supervisor. Patience is her middle name. Kindness flows from her like a gentle river. Flexibility is her superpower, and she wields it with grace,” Superintendent Dr. Alex Cherniss shared. “Yet, despite all her virtues, Valerie remains remarkably humble. She is a team player in the truest sense. Her peers look up to her as a role model, a tremendous teammate who leads by example. She diligently assists school staff with the supervision of students while on campus, supporting their safety, well-being, group interactions, and exercise.”
One day, that diligence allowed Valerie to notice a kindergarten student turning blue and not breathing during lunchtime. She acted swiftly and performed the Heimlich maneuver to successfully remove a corndog blocking the child’s airway.
“Her prompt response may have potentially saved this student’s life, and had Valerie been distracted from her duties, the situation could have taken a devastating turn,” Dr. Cherniss noted. “Her dedication to the supervision of Rio Vista is a true testament to her love of our students.”
The Board of Education and district are proud to have presented Ms. Valerie Hibbard with the You Are the Advantage Award! Congratulations!