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West Valley Educator Named School Employee of the Year
Assessment Coordinator is focusing on helping to expand the English Language Learners program

OLYMPIA — April 13, 2012 — Mary Collins, Assessment Coordinator for Spokane Valley High School, West Valley School District, is the 2012 Washington State Classified School Employee of the Year. State Superintendent Randy Dorn recognized the eight Regional Classified School Employees of the Year and announced the State Classified School Employee of the Year at a ceremony Wednesday in the Old Capitol Building in Olympia.

“Collins’ commitment to the students at Spokane Valley High School is clear,” said Dorn. “After working there for 28 years, she is a valuable member of the staff who has the ability and willingness to step up and pitch in wherever she is needed. All of this year’s regional finalists demonstrate a proactive, professional approach to their work, which truly benefits the kids of this state.”

Collins and her fellow regional finalists were joined by their families, friends, colleagues, representatives from the state’s educational service districts and various education associations.

Collins began working in the West Valley School district 28 years ago as a para-educator in the Child Development Center at Spokane Valley High School. Since that time, she has worked her way up in the district, taking on a variety of roles, from Library Technician to Assistant in the Special Education Department. She’s eager to take on additional duties as assigned, creating publications, and grant writing. She served as Chapter President for the Public School Employee union from 1990-1992.

Assistant Superintendent Dr. Gene Sementi describes Collins as a “jack-of-all-trades, who can be called on at a moment’s notice to provide leadership and assistance in any situation.” She is the developer and coordinator of Spokane Valley High School’s GED prep program, which re-engages at-risk students with school. Several students have successfully completed the program and moved toward a GED, and many more have been inspired pursue a high school diploma.

Regional Winners
Before announcing the State Classified School Employee of the Year, Superintendent 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 the following (biographies and photos of the regional winners, as well as Mary Collins, are available at

  • David Peterson, Sunnyside School District
  • Tina Anderson, Battle Ground School District
  • Penny Reinitz, Oakville School District
  • Rosa Buss, South Kitsap School District
  • Susan Gifford, Puyallup School District
  • Rise Wiggins, Warden School District
  • Sylvia Mendoza, Nooksack Valley School District

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 2012 state award winner was chosen by a state selection committee comprised of award-winning educators and representatives from the following organizations Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction, Public School Employees of Washington, Washington Education Association and Washington Association of School Administrators.

Photos and extended profiles of each of this year’s finalists are posted on the OSPI education awards page:


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 4/23/2013

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