Excellence in education earns Lemoore High grad a spot in the LHS Foundation Hall of Fame

By Ed Martin, The Leader Editor
Deneen Pereira Guss with children Christopher and Katelynn.
Deneen Pereira Guss with children Christopher and Katelynn.

She has gone from the vast cotton fields of Lemoore to the lush seaside climate of Monterey County, where artichokes grow abundantly in the sweet, clean air, and Cannery Row draws visitors from around the world.

It is also the boyhood home of John Steinbeck, appropriate since Salinas High School, where a young Steinbeck learned the skills he would so forcefully employ in future years, was designed and built by the same architect (James Weeks) that brought Lemoore High School to life in the first quarter of the 20th Century, and where a young lady by the name of Deneen Pereira Guss received an education that put her where she is today.

Deneen with spouse Jim and children Christopher and Katelynn.
Deneen with spouse Jim and children Christopher and Katelynn.

Guss, a 1983 Lemoore High School graduate, the daughter of Manuel and Beverly Pereira, left the cotton fields and hot summer days a long time ago, and now she serves as the deputy superintendent at the Monterey County Office of Education, just the latest step in a journey that began in Kings County.

She left a lasting mark on Lemoore High School. “My years at LHS were full of many wonderful memories and vast opportunities that are the foundation of who I am today,” she said.

She had nothing but kind words for her teachers, including former LHS teacher and principal, Jim Bennett. “I will never forget how he encouraged me to become involved in ASB, and next thing you know I was ASB President. He inspired me to pursue my dream to be a teacher and leader, and today I hold a doctoral degree in educational leadership.”

Daughter Mallorie who works for the City of Fort Myers in Florida.
Daughter Mallorie who works for the City of Fort Myers in Florida.

She added that Lemoore High School faculty and administration helped to instill in her the importance of being involved in activities and how important it is to be active in one’s community. “By being involved in clubs, activities, ASB leadership, sports, drama, and serving as Kings County’s Junior Miss, I learned that life is what you make it, and the more involved you are the more opportunities you have to make a positive difference in life.”

Her parents helped to instill in her those values. Her father Manuel was a longtime mechanic at iconic Billingsley Tires, while mom Beverly was a teacher in the Central Union School District for many years.

Guss, 51, is one of the latest alums to earn a spot in the Lemoore Union High School Foundation Hall of Fame and will be inducted at the Foundation’s annual dinner on Oct. 21 in the Lemoore Civic Auditorium.

She got the news from her old principal. “Lupe Solis called me and told me about the nomination,” said Guss. Solis is a familiar presence on the Lemoore High School campus. He served the school as a teacher, assistant principal, principal and associate superintendent. He current serves as associate superintendent in the Tulare County Office of Education.

Excellence in education earns Lemoore High grad a spot in the LHS Foundation Hall of Fame

Guss, a 29-year veteran educator, is currently the deputy superintendent of the Monterey County Office of Education and has served in district and site leadership positions for over 17 years. She is a former district superintendent, associate superintendent, director of curriculum and instruction as well as a principal and assistant principal.

After leaving Lemoore High School, she earned an associate’s degree from Kings River Community College in Reedley and then a bachelor’s degree and teaching credential from California State University, Dominguez Hills.

She returned to Lemoore and taught for several years, including a stint at Neutra Elementary at NAS Lemoore. She taught third and seventh graders for several years. During her tenure she returned to college, earning a master’s degree from San Jose State and an administrative credential from Fresno Pacific University. Along the way she also managed to earn a doctorate from Argosy University.

Excellence in education earns Lemoore High grad a spot in the LHS Foundation Hall of Fame

District officials say that Guss is dedicated to her community and serves in a variety of roles with local non-profit organizations dedicated to making a positive difference in the community. She is a Rotarian and has served as Rotary President, and currently serves as chairperson for the Central Coast YMCA Board.

She is a steering committee member for Impact Monterey County, a group focused on assessing the needs of Monterey County residents, and also serves on the steering committee for the Epicenter (an organization focused on meeting the needs of at-risk students in Monterey County). In addition, she is a leadership team member of Bright Futures, an alliance of businesses, educators, non-profits, government agencies, and parents engaged collaboratively to strengthen the Monterey County community by improving the educational success of young people.

“I have been blessed with these opportunities, because my years at Lemoore High School gave me the strong foundation and skill set to make a positive difference in life by helping others,” she said.  “Many thanks to the faculty and administration of LHS for starting me on a path toward success.”

Guss has been recognized as Soledad Unified School District’s Administrator of the Year, Soledad Chamber of Commerce Volunteer of the Year, and has also received the Child Abuse Prevention Council Community Education Award.

She is married to a high school friend, Jim Guss, also a member of the class of 1983. The two married in 2014. She is the proud parent of Christopher who is an aerospace engineer graduate from UC San Diego, Katelynn who is an animal science graduate from UC Davis, and Mallorie, who works for the City of Fort Myers in Florida.

Excellence in education earns Lemoore High grad a spot in the LHS Foundation Hall of Fame

It’s been a challenging and exciting career for Guss, having served as a teacher and at every level of leadership from site and district administration to district superintendent.

Guss won’t be alone at the Hall of Fame dinner. She will join a large contingent of former students and athletes also being inducted on October 21 at the Lemoore Civic Auditorium at 6:30 p.m. Reservations are $50 per person and can be obtained at the Lemoore High School District office at 5 Powell St. or the Lemoore Best Western at the corner of Bush Street and D Street.

This year’s inductees, in addition to Guss, include Mandy Broaddus, Class of 1992; Marc Raygoza, Class of 1991, and Jerry Pierce, who will receive the Gary Sedgwick Award, given to a big booster of Lemoore High School who did not graduate from the school.

Other athletic inductees include the 2005 football team, coached by Shaun Ball, that won the Central Section championship:  David Ausberry, Cory Billingsley, Brandon Newell, Eric Aviles, John Vargas, Spencer Bull, Jamar Brown, Ricky Plueard, Cody Norton, Carlos Dukes, David Huizar, Brandon Plueard, Daniel Galaviz, Clayton DeShazor, Matt Terry, Vicente Mungia, Pete Etchebehere, Kevin Burglund, Anthony Specioso, Jacob Arthurs, Gabe Freeman, Ezra Cosby, Sean Roman-Marin, Neal Fagundes, Matt Garcia, Donald Harrigan, Conner Landers, Jared Benson, John Paz, Luis Salinas, Michael Macias, Matt Dufur, Keith Hurst, Otto Lee, Angel Valdez.

Another new entry for the Athletic Hall of Fame includes the 2004 girls’ varsity soccer team, coached by Francisco Pimentel. Members include Stephanie Norton, Nicole Sanchez, Cristal Llamas, Erika Robles, Nicole Monroe, Jesslyn Fagundes, Kasi Molina, Melissa Droogh, Andrea Pimentel, Ashton Crosswell, Tyler Virden, Val Gobby, Tiffani Wheat, Meghan Loper, Chelsea Guerrero, Lindsey Brown, Emily Brown, Brandy Brewer

Finally, another Central Section champion, the 2004 girls’ volleyball team, coached by Kelly Brown: Danielle Parker, Beatrice Leumert, Kelley Castadio, Erica Droogh, Kate Schuh, Heather Allen, Julie Coelho, Melissa Droogh, Ashley Coelho, Jill Stevens, Stephanie Norton.
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