Starting Monday, March 14, masks are strongly recommended, but not required.  BUSD will continue to adhere to CDPH guidelines.

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About the Second Step Facilitator: Linda Wright

My name is Linda Wright and I am the Second Step Group Facilitator for Benicia Unified School District. I have been a guidance assistant since December 2002. I enjoy it immensely. It is a privilege to guide students in this manner. The curriculum is awesome and my objective in my role is to create an accepting atmosphere where each child knows they are and feels valued.

A little about myself. I graduated from the University of California, at Berkeley with a BA in Psychology with an emphasis in Child Development. Since 1980, my career has been as a small group facilitator for different agencies. My husband and I have lived in Benicia since 1994. Our three children attended Benicia schools. My First two children have graduated from college and my third graduates May, 2018 from college. I am an active story teller in the Bay Area and write children’s books, which will be published soon. I sincerely hope that this introduction will help you in your decision-making process.

About the Special Friend Guidance Assistant (Mary Farmar Elementary): Mel Paterno

My name is Mel Paterno and I am both honored and proud to have worked as a Special Friends Guidance Assistant at Mary Farmar School for the past fourteen years. After graduating with a BS in Business Administration/Management, I was given the opportunity to work in the corporate finance world as a manager of an office for an Italian reinsurance company. I was then presented with multiple managerial positions for renowned retail stores over the proceeding ten years until motherhood came calling!

After being a stay-at-home mom for a few years, I realized that my kids were becoming more independent and that it was time to return to the workforce. Special Friends/Second Step program holds a special place in my heart. I have learned so much from the children with whom I have had the privilege of developing their friendship and trust. Seeing the world through their eyes – priceless!

About the Special Friend Guidance Assistant (Joe Henderson Elementary): Debbie Habegger

I started the Special Friends Program at Joe Henderson in the winter of 1989.  Since then, I have worked primarily at Joe Henderson, with some years at Mary Farmar.  During the 33 year period I took a few years off when I had my twins.  

Children have always been the nucleus of my life.   Since I was 17 yrs. old, I worked with children’s church and youth groups, and choreographed over 20 children’s musicals.  I was also the Room Mom every year for all of my 4 children (which went through the Benicia schools), coached girls’ soccer, Asst. Cheerleading Coach for BYF and Benicia High School.  I also co-chaired  Grad Night for 2 years.

My education includes studying business at Bowling Green State University and I am presently pursuing coursework in Psychology to further my education.

My husband, Dean, and I have 4 children with 4 in-loves and seven grandchildren 13, 12, 11, 10, 7, 5 and 3yrs. old.    My free time consists of spending time with my family, cycling, mountain races, exercising and running my part-time Pilates Reformer business. 

I feel blessed to have a position that is a passion of mine and still look forward to going to work every morning!   My goal is to strive for each one of my students to feel unconditionally accepted and valued, (and having fun)!   I find it fascinating to continually see the world through their eyes. 

“Play is often talked about as if it were a relief from serious learning.   But for children play is serious learning.   Play is really the work of childhood.”   — Fred Rogers

Debbie Habegger

About the Special Friends Guidance Assistant (Robert Semple Elementary): Elizabeth Crumpton

I am thrilled to work as a Special Friends Guidance Assistant at Robert Semple. I wholeheartedly believe in the Special Friends Program and am excited to share it with our students. My goal is to create a fun and welcoming environment where students can be themselves and feel unconditionally supported.

My husband, children, and I have lived in Benicia for twelve years. I’m an active volunteer at my children’s schools and serve as a board member of their school’s Parent Teacher Group (PTG).

I enjoy cooking, spending time outdoors, and traveling with my family.

I’m grateful to be a part of such a wonderful community.


About the Special Friend Guidance Assistant (Matthew Turner Elementary): Anne Mang

My family moved to Benicia 22 years ago for my husband’s job. I have enjoyed working with Special Friends for the last 16 years. My children graduated from Benicia High School, both excelling in sports. My daughter graduated from Chico State in 2014 and my son is attending University of Reno. I enjoy gardening, aerobics, and talking walks at the Benicia State park with my dog Bing.