The Galt Community of Character Coalition (GCCC) recognized three people with its 2021 Galt Respect Award at the Sept. 14 Galt City Council meeting. Marengo Ranch Elementary School teacher Michelyn Farrell, Lake Canyon Elementary School teacher Linda Ekstrom and Galt Sunrise Rotary President Mark King each were honored at the meeting by GCCC officers Ralph Cortez, Gale Webber and Mari Martinez.

Respect is one of six character traits chosen by the GCCC to be promoted and recognized in the Galt community. The GCCC seeks to promote these values and recognize individuals in the Galt community whose actions and lives exemplify these values. Through a nomination and selection process, individuals are selected to receive Character Coalition awards and have their stories told. The GCCC honors the recipients at various civic meetings throughout the year.

The following are the three honorees for the character trait respect, along with the nominations submitted by those who took notice of the nominees’ extraordinary gifts to respect all people and their community at all times.

Linda Ekstrom

During the difficult days of the pandemic, Linda Ekstrom went above and beyond to create a joyful, enriched distance-learning environment for TK and kindergarten children from Lake Canyon Elementary School. During normal times, we expect our young children to gather on the classroom carpet each day, to establish routines and learn about the calendar and weather, and to come together as a community of learners who care for each other and enjoy learning. Meeting this goal during the pandemic may have seemed impossible. However, Mrs. Ekstrom’s students were able to experience that similar comfort of celebrating each day with their teacher and friends through the routines and activities and surprises she created for the class. While her young children were not familiar with watching a Zoom class on a computer, or using a computer for structured lessons, Mrs. Ekstrom demonstrated respect and patience for each young learner by presenting well-planned, structured and fun activities to make learning accessible for each child. As a parent, I was amazed and grateful to have Mrs. Ekstrom Zoom into my home each day and bring joy and learning to my child and to her classmates. Mrs. Ekstrom is truly a master teacher, whose respect and caring for each child and family, propels the work she does to a whole new level. Linda Ekstrom is clearly a role model of the character trait respect. The Galt community is so fortunate to have Linda Ekstrom as a teacher for our children.

Nominated by Julie Martinez-Wytch

Michelyn Farrell

Michelyn Farrell is a 5th grade teacher at Marengo Ranch Elementary School who is a true role model of the character trait respect. She demonstrates respect in the way she consistently supports her students and coworkers. She is always looking for ways she can help others. During the difficult days of the pandemic, Mrs. Farrell embodied respect in helping students and coworkers. She was mindful of the needs of students when she so generously supplied distance learners with materials they needed to succeed. She also met the needs of coworkers by helping them navigate Google Classroom so they could be effective to meet our students’ needs. Mrs. Farrell consistently goes above and beyond in making sure those around her have the tools they need to be successful and confident. Michelyn Farrell is a role model of respect and a true asset to our Galt community.

Nominated by Mary Lane

Mark King

It is with great joy that I nominate Mr. Mark King as the ultimate Galt role model for respect. I have known him for a year in his capacity as president of Sunshine Rotary and as an ongoing volunteer with our Sunshine Food Pantry, which distributes food to our poorest citizens twice a month. I mention that I have known him for a year, because he is a big reason why I have fallen in love with Galt. As an appointed pastor in the United Methodist Church, our Bishop sends us to serve in communities not known to us previously. Mr. King was one of the first community members that I met. His caring, his kindness, his enthusiasm for service, his openness to everyone were shining bright as he worked through the pandemic to make sure everyone got the food they needed. But it’s more than that! The respect he shows to everyone is inspirational. He has learned conversational Spanish so he can show respect for the heritage of our Spanish speaking and bilingual citizens; he learns the names of our Sunshine Food Pantry patrons; he knows their lives and their loves and will ask by name after sick relatives; he anticipates the physical needs of people who need help getting things to their cars. His laughter is contagious. He works with young people through Interact (the young people’s branch of Rotary); he is serving on an Exploratory Committee to build affordable housing for seniors and veterans in Galt; he brings food to the homeless on a regular basis through a Sikh temple; he recently helped an elderly woman from our church to put in a doggy door. No job is too big or too small for Mark King. His kindness, humility and steadfast devotion to building community shine through with every action, every email, every text, every word.

In the year I have known him, I have watched Mr. King interact with every variety of person and he has always shown respect and gratitude. Mr. King is a lifelong learner, who is constantly curious and open to learning from others. In short, Mark King is a joy! As a pastor, “love thy neighbor” is at the heart of what I believe and teach. Mark King truly loves his neighbor. I cannot think of a more worthy recipient or a more shining example of the kind of person and citizen that makes Galt special.

Nominated by Mary Maaga