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Proteus, Inc. Teacher Profile:
Diane Townsend

Diane Townsend estimates she’s had over 4,000 students go through her classroom at the Visalia Service Center in pursuit of some form of education. Of that number, she’s most proud of helping close to 500 students receive their High School Diploma.

Those exceedingly high numbers go hand in hand with another impressive number, 36.

As in the 36 years Townsend has been employed by the Visalia Adult School to teach Adult School curriculum at Proteus, Inc.

Townsend was recently recognized for those 36 years when she received the Visalia Adult School Certificated Employee of the Year Apple Award.

An honor Townsend appreciates.

“I was really humbled to be honored that way,” Townsend said. “I do it because I love it, not because I’m looking for some reward or recognition. I feel recognized every day when my students are successful.”

Visalia Service Center Manager Yolanda Valles is very proud to have Townsend in-house and has seen the impact her teaching style has had on her students.

“Her students often times are dealing with barriers that result in difficulty obtaining their High School Diploma or GED,” Valles states. “She works with her students to break down those barriers in order to help them obtain their educational goals. She is not only a teacher to her students, but a mentor, coach and friend.”

Not bad for somebody who never imagined herself in front of the classroom.

“I really never sought out to be a teacher, I always thought I would follow school psychology and that direction,” Townsend said. “One thing led to another and there was an opening for a teacher for the partnership with the Visalia Adult School and Proteus. I went ‘downtown’ as we called the district office and signed some papers that very same day. And here I am 36 years later.”

Townsend was actually an employee of Proteus, Inc. for three years before she started working for the Adult School. That means she’s been working for Proteus, in some capacity, for over 40 years.

“I’ve been in the community so long, I’ve run into people that I simply don’t recall,” Townsend said. “But they come up and they say ‘Don’t you teach over at Proteus?’ and they tell me I helped them over 20 years ago. And they tell me how well they are doing. So that’s pretty cool to have happen.”

But even though she is eligible to retire soon, there is one last task she is eager to take on.

Next year, Townsend will start working half days on a special assignment training new teachers for the Edgunity Programs, an online-blended learning curriculum used to obtain a High School Diploma. She will also spearhead an effort to bring adult education services south of Highway 198. Currently, all of the classes the Visalia Adult School offers are only available in North Visalia.
Correcting this is Townsend’s last self-assigned task. Maybe.

“If we can make that happen and make it successful, then I feel like I’ve done my job,” Townsend said. “Once that happens, I might say OK, I’m done. Maybe I'll come back part-time.”

Jose Gonzalez is a self-described tinkerer. He likes to take apart a perfectly good object and put it all

back together again, in hopes of understanding how and why things work. It started when he was nine

years old taking apart his parents’ electrical appliances and has extended into his adult life as evidenced

by him recently building his own drag racing motorcycle from the ground up.

 

So, when Gonzalez was hired to be the new Energy Division Program Manager in the beginning of

November, it should have come as no surprise how he would approach his new job.

 

“I think I like to dissect, disassemble and re-assemble, and the reason for that is because when you

simply pick up the baton, and you run with it, that’s ok,” Gonzalez said. “But you lose a lot of

knowledge; you lose a lot of information. You’re relying on a lot of history of what was done, so doing

the stuff that I am doing right now is my way of learning from the ground up - not from the top down.”

 

With only two weeks on the job, Gonzalez has already delved deep into all of the energy programs’ policies and procedures and has already submitted easy-to-read flowcharts and other recommendations to Energy Division Director Jose Landeros, who is excited to have his new manager on board.

 

“Jose has this energy and eagerness to come in here and jump in and learn our system. It’s been

amazing to see,” Landeros said. “His experience in the various fields of energy efficiency has allowed

him to hit the ground running; and that was an important reason he was selected for the job.”

 

Indeed, Gonzalez’s background is not short on experience. For the past 16 years, Gonzalez was employed by the City of Fresno overseeing many of their energy efficiency programs, with the last five years specifically as head of the Energy Efficiency Sustainability Division. Before working for the City of Fresno, he worked in private industry as an energy efficiency expert in different areas of technology.

 

He holds degrees and certificates in Wastewater, Electronic Arts, Industrial Wiring and Motor Control,

HVAC refrigeration and Thermal Dynamics, and Jose is part of the California Waste Water Environmental

Association, a very prestigious club.  He is also a certified air-condition mechanic, certified plant engineer, and a certified electrician.

 

With all this experience in energy and technology, Gonzalez is eager to use his knowledge as well as

learn more along the way.

 

“I’ve had the opportunity to work at different organizations, and there’s always something good to

learn from all places,” Gonzalez said. “So I’ll take whatever I learned and apply those that are applicable

here. The goal is to always leave your organization in a better condition than when you first started. So,

whatever it is that I can do to assist the energy division, that’s going be my focus.”

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