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The Merced County Excellence in Education program began in 2006 as a partnership between Educational Employees Credit Union and the Merced County Office of Education. This program showcases some of Merced County's top teachers, administrators and school employees. A sculpture titled "Commencement" was created by the late artist Clement Renzi and was commissioned by EECU. The piece was the final work by famed Valley sculptor Renzi, who passed away in 2009, and has a permanent home in front of the MCOE. Renzi's other works can be seen throughout the Central Valley.
Winners from school districts in Merced County are selected as finalists, and one teacher, one administrator and one school employee receive the county winner award. Each county winner receives a sculpture created by Renzi and a framed photo of them with their superintendent. Nominees, family members, and special guests are invited to attend the evening reception and awards ceremony, sponsored by EECU. The ceremony honors educators, administrators and employees in a variety of fields, ranging from special education and alternative education to preschool, elementary and high school.
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