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Bellingham Educator Named School Employee of the Year
Shuksan Middle School’s instructional assistant is committed to building relationships and making a difference in the lives of students

OLYMPIA — May 9, 2014 — Theo Mills, who serves as an instructional assistant for Shuksan Middle School in Bellingham, is the 2014 Washington State Classified School Employee of the Year the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) announced today.

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Randy Dorn recognized the nine Regional Classified School Employees of the Year and announced the winner at a ceremony this afternoon in the Old Capitol Building in Olympia. They were joined by their families, friends, colleagues, legislators, representatives from the state’s educational service districts and various education associations.

“The work Theo has done at Shuksan for the past 13 years has made a difference,” Dorn said, “and there’s data to back that up. By addressing the needs of at-risk students and developing programs that meet their needs, she has decreased absences and discipline referrals. Her holistic approach makes her successful.”

In the classroom, Mills adapts her instruction to reach each student. She is committed to the concept of honoring the whole student and connects with her students in the hallway and lunchroom as well. She is also eager to connect with teachers outside of class to discuss upcoming lessons and ideas for reaching specific students.

Assistant Principal Janae Hodge describes Mills as a role model for all and a doer. “She sees a need and fills it,” says Hodge. “I have continuously been impressed with the way in which she seeks out new ideas, training and teaching and learning concepts, they integrates them into her work with children.”

Regional Winners
Before announcing the State Classified School Employee of the Year, Dorn recognized all of the regional finalists, nominated by their respective educational service districts, and presented each of them with a custom-made award from Hilltop Artists in Tacoma. The Regional Classified School Employees of the Year included:

  • Angela Spencer, Nine Mile Falls
  • Donna Kelly, Yakima
  • Misty Woodrum, Longview
  • Justin Lanting, Olympia
  • Suzanne Compton, Bremerton
  • Teri Mathews, Auburn
  • Efrain Cardoza, Pasco
  • Gretchen Mann, Wenatchee

More Information

About the Washington State Classified School Employee of the Year Award
The Washington State Classified School Employee of the Year award is administered by OSPI in collaboration with Washington’s Educational Service Districts who each select a regional nominee. The selection criteria are professional biography, outstanding work performance and professional leadership and collaboration.

The 2014 state award winner was chosen by a state selection committee comprised of award-winning educators and representatives from OSPI, Washington Association of School Administrators, Washington State PTA and Association of Washington School Principals.


About OSPI
The Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) is the primary agency charged with overseeing K–12 education in Washington state. Led by State School Superintendent Randy Dorn, OSPI works with the state’s 295 school districts and nine educational service districts to administer basic education programs and implement education reform on behalf of more than one million public school students.

OSPI provides equal access to all programs and services without discrimination based on sex, race, creed, religion, color, national origin, age, honorably discharged veteran or military status, sexual orientation, gender expression or identity, the presence of any sensory, mental, or physical disability, or the use of a trained dog guide or service animal by a person with a disability. Questions and complaints of alleged discrimination should be directed to the Equity and Civil Rights Director at (360) 725-6162 or P.O. Box 47200, Olympia, WA 98504-7200.

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Nathan Olson
OSPI Communications Manager
(360) 725-6015

The OSPI Communications Office serves as the central point of contact for local, regional and national media covering K-12 education issues.

Communications Manager
Nathan Olson
(360) 725-6015


   Updated 5/9/2014

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