Benicia Unified School District

BUSD All Stars | May 3, 2024

Category(s): Latest News

Posted On: May 3, 2024

Stephanie Carro

Ms. Stephanie Carro has been with our Department for over 12 years. She is the Food and Nutrition Service Manager at Benicia Middle School.

Stephanie’s dedication and commitment to the Department and our students are immeasurable.

She truly is a standout employee. She leads by example to the BMS staff and devotes her dedication to the students’ meals. She makes sure that students who need special diets receive what will make them safe and happy. She is always looking for a diversity of meal choices to ensure that the BMS students are happy and have a good selection. She double-checks the quality of the food and provides great customer service. She always has a smile and creates a positive environment.

We are very fortunate to have Stephanie on our team; she is a BUSD All-Star!

Stephani Carro

Lauren Lozada

Ms. Lauren Lozada is the lead teacher at the Joe Henderson after-school program. She is a very caring professional who is valued and admired by staff, students, and community partners. Ms. Lozada possesses an excellent work ethic, evidenced by her initiative in supporting the work of others and the program. She recently developed a protocol to guide student workers in their daily tasks. Lauren, thank you for being a BUSD All-Star!

Lauren Lozada

Heather Cullum

We are fortunate to have Heather Cullum as our Senior Food Service Lead at Mary Farmar!  Heather is the heart and soul of our school’s food and nutrition program. Every single day, she arrives with a smile, ready to embark on the monumental task of nourishing the minds and bodies of over 495 students. But her impact extends far beyond the kitchen walls.

One of the most admirable qualities about Heather is her genuine humility. Despite her immense responsibility, she approaches her work with humility and grace. She takes the time to forge meaningful connections with every student, encouraging them to explore new culinary delights and ensuring they are greeted with warmth and kindness every time they enter the cafeteria.

But Heather’s dedication doesn’t stop there. She goes above and beyond to ensure that every student is included, especially regarding field trips. With meticulous attention to detail, she double-checks that every student has a nutritious lunch packed, ensuring they are fueled for their adventures beyond the classroom.

One of life’s fundamental needs is access to nourishing food, and Heather understands the profound impact it has on a child’s ability to learn and thrive. Her tireless efforts ensure that our students are not only well-fed but also feel included and valued, regardless of any dietary restrictions they may have. She works tirelessly to collaborate with families, ensuring that every student can enjoy lunchtime with their peers, fostering a sense of belonging and connection within our school community.

Heather’s role is undoubtedly complex, yet she navigates it gracefully and efficiently. She touches the lives of every student at Farmar Elementary, leaving an indelible mark on our school community.

Thank you, Mrs. Cullum, for your invaluable contributions to our school. Your dedication, compassion, and commitment to our students are truly inspirational, and we are incredibly fortunate to have you as a cherished member of our team. Thank you for being a BUSD All-Star!


Heather Cullum

Melissa Mickelson

We are honored to spotlight Melissa Mickelson, our exceptional resource specialist, whose unwavering dedication and heartfelt commitment to our students truly make a difference every day.

In her role, Melissa serves as a beacon of support for our students with Individualized Education Plans (IEPs), tirelessly working to ensure that every student receives the personalized attention and assistance they need to thrive academically, socially, emotionally, and beyond. But her impact extends far beyond the classroom walls.

Melissa is a true embodiment of dedication and professionalism. With a strong work ethic and a profound sense of responsibility, she approaches her role seriously, recognizing the importance of her work in shaping the futures of our students.

What truly sets Melissa apart is her commitment to understanding and supporting the unique needs of each student.  She invests the time and effort to build genuine relationships with her students and their families, gaining insights into their strengths, fears, and learning styles. She creates a supportive and nurturing environment where every student feels valued, understood, and empowered to succeed.

Melissa’s approach to student support is truly inspiring.  She not only recognizes but also celebrates the progress of each student, no matter how small. This understanding, that these small wins are the building blocks for greater achievements, is a testament to her artful encouragement and gentle pushes that empower her students to accelerate their learning and prepare for the journey ahead.

She understands that every student is unique and may require different levels of support.  Melissa is a dedicated champion for all our students, ensuring that each one receives the attention they need.  Her professionalism, empathy, and dedication serve as an inspiration to us all, and we are incredibly fortunate to have her as a valued member of our team.


Melissa Mickelson

Amanda Esteban 

Mrs. Amanda Esteban is a stalwart of the Joe Henderson Second Grade Team and has served in this role at Henderson for nearly all her years since she began in BUSD in 2005. A long-time member of the Benicia community, Mrs. Esteban’s now adult children are proud graduates of BUSD schools.  As a proud mom (recently promoted to Grandma!), Mandy credits her kids’ wonderful experience in BUSD as a significant reason that today they are happy, kind, hard-working adults.  This same sense of balance and success is what Mrs. Esteban fosters in her students, as she leads her classroom with warmth and kindness and brings out her students’ leadership abilities, as well as many hidden talents that they didn’t know they had before second grade!

On the Henderson staff team, Mrs. Esteban is also a leader – in ways that are critical but often behind the scenes, never flashy.  She is widely known on campus as the “data guru” of the PBIS Site Leadership Team because of her keen ability to interpret student behavioral data in the SWIS system.  For the PBIS Team broadly and for any colleague interested in delving into their students’ individual behavioral trajectory, Mandy can keenly use the data to identify patterns and celebrate behavioral growth.  Mrs. Esteban (alongside Ms. Kelly Hughes) makes up a dynamic duo of teacher representatives on the PTG Board, facilitating constant communication and connection between staff and families.  She is a perennial leader of the Happy Hounds – the Henderson staff’s “sunshine committee” that celebrates staff milestones and supports staff in times of personal need.  It is no wonder that so many Hounds identify Mrs. Esteban as a “leader of the pack” for all the ways she gives and serves as an educator and colleague.  Bravo to Mrs. Amanda Esteban, a BUSD All-Star!

Amanda Esteban

Debbie Habegger

Mrs. Debbie Habegger is a Hound through and through and a tireless champion for students, especially for their social-emotional learning needs!  Debbie has been part of BUSD since 1998, and was among the founding educators of the Special Friends Program, a unique 1-to-1 play-based support program for our elementary students. Mrs. H’s commitment is unmatched, not only to the Special Friends way of supporting students, but more broadly to advocating for a SEL team-based approach to supporting kids.  Students love their sessions with Mrs. H and consistently say she is kind and compassionate and a great listener!  Little do they know that behind the scenes, Mrs. H puts as much love and care into being a liaison with the child’s teacher and a communicator to the child’s family as she creates meaningful sessions with the students.  One Henderson teacher writes of Debbie, “Our students know that their relationship with Mrs. H is an unconditional one, and it is a time they come to look forward to each week. That is made obvious in the way that even my most withdrawn or quiet students light up when Debbie comes to get them for their visit.”  Through the Special Friends program specifically, Mrs. Habegger has profoundly impacted over one thousand Henderson students!  Through Debbie’s broader and continuing work in the district, she has impacted and will impact probably one thousand more!  Mrs. H is a shining example of the belief deeply held in BUSD that every adult at school is an educator and that the best results can be achieved for students when a team of compassionate adults at school works alongside the child’s classroom teacher to ensure a supportive and inclusive school experience.  Bravo to Mrs. Debbie Habegger, a BUSD All-Star!

Debbie Habegger