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Marjie Ledgerwood

Lompoc High School teacher Marjie Ledgerwood, left, poses with retired Santa Barbara County Superintendent Bill Cirone on Monday after Ledgerwood was announced as the winner of the first Bill Cirone Heart of Education Award.

Marjie Ledgerwood, a special education teacher at Lompoc High School, was announced Monday as the winner of Santa Barbara County’s first Bill Cirone Heart of Education Award.

Representatives of the Santa Barbara County Education Office made the announcement during an assembly at Lompoc High. The award, named after retired Santa Barbara County Superintendent Bill Cirone, aims to annually recognize "an outstanding educator who demonstrates passion for the profession, creativity, and compassion for students — the same virtues that Superintendent Cirone championed and celebrated in his 34 years in office,” according to the Education Office.

Ledgerwood, a Lompoc native and alumna of Lompoc High School, fit that bill, according to the Education Office and the award’s namesake.

“This is a very special day for us, and I cannot think of a more deserving educator than Marjie to receive this award,” said Cirone, who, with his wife Barbara, attended the assembly at Lompoc High to present the award to Ledgerwood. “She is a real community gem — a homegrown teacher-hero who inspires her students and her community with her passion, innovation and vision. We join Lompoc High and Lompoc Unified School District in thanking her for all that she does. Her work truly makes a difference.”

Ledgerwood works with students with moderate to severe disabilities and is a coach for girls’ sports teams at Lompoc High. She is also the founder and adviser of the school’s Project Unify Club, which was established in February 2016. The Project Unify Club is based on a Special Olympics program that brings together students enrolled in both special and general education classes for athletic competitions.

LUSD Superintendent Trevor McDonald praised Ledgerwood for her work.

“Marjie has been a strong advocate for special education student full inclusion, not only at Lompoc High School but, also, in the district,” he said. “She’s doing so by deliberately building strong relationships with … area teachers in an effort to fully include special education students in their courses.”

Susan Salcido, the current county superintendent of schools, expressed a similar sentiment and said the Education Office was “so proud” to recognize Ledgerwood with the award, which also includes a small cash prize.

“Bill Cirone has always advocated strongly for all students and teachers; his compassion was on display every day he served as county superintendent of schools,” she said. “Marjie’s career has embodied the very same qualities Bill stood for.”

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Willis Jacobson covers the city of Lompoc for Lee Central Coast Newspapers. Follow him on Twitter @WJacobsonLR.