Mark Bandala, SDCOE's Classified Employee of the Year, has been busy during the COVID-19 pandemic.
He has led work to purchase and distribute mobile hotspots for students across the county, audit and remediate security settings in the SDCOE network, and help improve the efficiency of employee onboarding, among other large projects.
"Mark is self-motivated, has top-notch research and problem-solving skills, and is always solutions-oriented," said Reesa Fickett, Enterprise Project Management. "Mark becomes a subject-matter expert in every project he works on without being asked."
Bandala has been with SDCOE for more than 15 years, including the last 10 as a network analyst. He said he was humbled by the recognition, and thanked John Cusack and Scott Blaney for their leadership of the Network Services team.
"I couldn't have done it without these guys," he said. "The work that they do really props us up; it props up the division, it props up SDCOE, and it props up the community in general."
Empathetic, respected, professional, hardworking, thoughtful, motivating, and organized are some of the ways Mark's colleagues describe him.
He uses those skills and strengths to help other SDCOE employees as well as district leaders and other clients solve problems in a safe and creative way.
He has supported districts with a variety of programs that support more equitable and robust access to technology and information for all students, said Mark Burroughs, superintendent at San Pasqual Union School District.
"Never before was Mark's influence more apparent than when we were forced into distance learning due to the COVID-19 pandemic," Burroughs said. "As a result of his ongoing support and guidance throughout the year, both our technology and our teachers were ready for this immense challenge."
Bandala is an exemplar and motivator to his co-workers, eagerly embracing leadership opportunities, said John Cusack, Infrastructure and Operations.
"He volunteers at almost every opportunity to take on new work challenges, and does so with enthusiasm," Cusack said.
When he's not working, Mark spends time with his family and is very active at their schools and with his church choir.
The panel of employees who picked the winner said picking just one person was no easy task. What made Bandala stand out was the big impact his work has had across the county, said Dee Pope, North Coastal Consortium for Special Education.
"His work impacted the whole education community, from small districts to the whole SDCOE organization," Pope said. "He supported many high-profile projects which were directly responsible for SDCOE's effective COVID-19 response."