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Education Awards

Classified Employee Award Winners

2016 Regional Classified School Employees of the Year


2016 Washington Classified School Employee of the Year
ESD 112 Regional Classified School Employee of the Year

Melanie Green
Evergreen School District
Title I & Federal Programs

Melanie is the Administrator of Family Involvement and Evergreen’s 10 Family and Community Resource Centers. She was a member of the counseling program staff at Orchards Elementary and started Evergreen’s first Family Resource Center at Silver Star Elementary. Melanie is widely considered by colleagues and the community as instrumental (if not essential) to the development of Evergreen’s successful model.

Melanie has used Maslow’s hierarchy to guide her work. Each center includes a food pantry, clothes closet, school supply reserve, and a caring professional to help needy families connect to the network of social services in Clark County. This has resulted in over 650 referrals during the last school year.

Melanie is a perfect combination of vision and work ethic. She sees what is possible and the path to get there, but she knows that she can’t get there on her own. Melanie is an expert collaborator, and has built numerous successful partnerships to support families and students, including other non-profits, public health, businesses, and the faith community. Her work to engage faith communities has expanded in the past year to a new Faith-Based Coffee Group. This monthly meeting connects faith communities and schools to share resources and build lasting relationships. Over 100 people came to their one-year anniversary breakfast earlier this year.

“Melanie is a community leader who understands how trauma can impact childhood and adult health outcomes as well as academic success,” says Clark County Public Health Nurse Anne Johnston. “She has proven herself to be a leader who can organize a supportive community response to not only help mitigate the impact of those traumas but also prevent them.”


Northeast ESD 101 Regional Classified School Employee of the Year

Debra White
West Valley School District
Spokane Valley High School

Debra has been connected to West Valley as a volunteer and staff member for over 20 years. During that time she has served on many committees and been a leader in technology and student services. As a parent volunteer, Debra was instrumental in the creation of West Valley’s nationally recognized truancy board that engages families and students before they are sent to truancy court. Her current position as the district data coordinator makes good use of her skills as a persistent and detail oriented collaborator.

Debra is constantly on the lookout for new technologies and ways to connect them to student learning. During her early days at the district in the 90s, she began a mission to improve and increase classroom technology through research, vendor negotiations, and training. Instead of a couple of old Apple computers, classrooms are now equipped with the latest technologies to engage students and improve instruction.

As the district’s Data Coordinator, Debra is housed at Spokane Valley High School where she has more direct contact with students and can see the direct results of her systematic approaches to data management and communication. Although she often works in the background, Debra’s heart has always been with the students. It’s not surprising that Debra’s latest mission is families – she now sits on the Strategic Planning Committee for Family and Community Engagement. She approaches this work with her signature tenacity and compassion.

“Every individual who has had the privilege of working with Debra White has become a better educator, friend, parent, spouse, and human being as a result,” says West Valley Superintendent Gene Sementi. “Through Debra’s example countless others have had the opportunity and inspiration to become their own best selves.”


ESD 105 Regional Classified School Employee of the Year

David Hinojosa
Sunnyside School District
Harrison Middle School

David is an Intervention Specialist at Harrison Middle School where he focuses on building relationships and finding common ground with students. His degree in social work and experience with programs like GEAR UP and the foster care system have given him the tools for success, but David says it’s his own life experience that helps him relate to students.

David says he understands how easy it is for many of the students he works with to fall through the cracks. So he spends a lot of his time eliminating those cracks – providing rides, arranging (and sometimes paying for) extracurriculars, and more. He sees the connections between families and communities and students as a web – repair one aspect and the whole thing becomes stronger.

Although David has only been at Harrison for 4 years, he’s already made a tremendous impact. Colleagues call him a leader and example for all staff. Students consider him a father figure in many ways. David’s approach is a perfect blend of tracking data points and individual counseling with students in need and their families. This is the perfect compliment to Harrison’s culture of small learning communities.

“David sees the worth and potential in students that they themselves might not see, and by doing so, taps into students’ hearts” says Principal Robert Bowman. “This belief system carries over to staff and sets an example for others to follow. In my 22 years in education, I have rarely come across someone who is so dedicated and committed to the staff and students he serves.”


ESD 113 Regional Classified School Employee of the Year

Kassie MacColl
Rochester School District
Rochester Primary

After graduating from the University of Washington, Kassie started a career in banking to pay off student loans. Education had always called to her, though, and three years ago she began working as a Special Education Assistant at Rochester Primary. Kassie already has her emergency sub certificate, and now she is on her way to becoming a certificated teacher.

Although relatively new to education, Kassie is already widely respected by her colleagues for her creativity, organization, and perseverance. No matter where a student is on the spectrum of ability, Kassie has a plan for them. She is tenacious about trying every single strategy to help a student reach their full potential. Her research and resourcefulness has already paid off as students she works with routinely develop into confident readers and mathematicians.

As a colleague, Kassie is a prized substitute teacher and respected collaborator. Her confidence in the classroom and ability to step in to help with little warning are rare in one so new to the profession. This year she is also mentoring the new educational assistants and working closely with the general education teachers as the school pilots new language arts materials.

“From the first day she started working in my classroom, Kassie has shown outstanding leadership and professionalism,” says teacher Brittny Zepp. “Kassie sets exceptionally high expectations for her students both behaviorally and academically, and she is continually seeking out opportunities to improve her teaching.”


Olympic ESD 114 Regional Classified School Employee of the Year

Dara Sellars
Central Kitsap School District
Business Department

Dara has held a variety of roles during her almost 15 years at Central Kitsap. She started as an in-school suspension monitor – a job she says was a natural fit since she describes her younger self as a bit of a “hoodlum.” For the past six years, Dara has served as the Bookkeeper for ASB and Internal Controls. This role seems tailor-made for Dara’s passion for supporting students and her wealth of experience in bookkeeping and management.

Dara is first and foremost a team player. When someone falls ill, she is the first out into the field to help out and keep paperwork moving. When the district needed an interim Assistant Director for Human Resources, Dara served for a year. She is also the treasurer for her educational support professionals group. Her dedication to the district and its students is unmatched.

This dedication is part of what makes her a leader at Central Kitsap. Dara is committed to what is best for students and families even when it means changing long established practices. Most recently, she guided the elementary schools through a transition from paper receipts to In Touch which has increased accuracy and made things easier for families.

“While Dara no longer works directly with students on a daily basis, I would argue that her connection is stronger than ever,” says Business Services Director Paula Bailey. “She provides incredible support to schools so they can focus on their work with students; she regularly participates in school fundraisers; and she volunteers nearly all her free time at athletic and other school events. I can’t imagine a more effective, supportive, and all-about-kids employee.”


Puget Sound ESD 121 Regional Classified School Employee of the Year

Gabriela Osorio
Highline School District
Global Connections High School

Gabriela first came to Global Connections as a student in her junior year. Three years ago she returned – much to the excitement of the staff – as the ELL Paraeducaor and Family Liaison. Colleagues describe her as an educator who is a learner first. She is an active listener with great compassion for the students she serves. Next year Gabriela will leave Global Connections to finish her degree at Central Washington University.

From the moment she arrived at Global Connections, Gabriela impressed people with her maturity and work ethic. She co-founded and later served as the advisor for Latin@s Stand Up! Its mission is to help more Latino students graduate. In addition to her regular duties, Gabriela has also mentored online students, served as a Collection of Evidence teacher, and participated in numerous community programs and events that support students.

Her exceptional skill as a translator and dual language presenter combined with her first hand experience as a student at Global Connections instantly puts families at ease. Gabriela is able to mentor ELL students through the graduation and post graduate planning because she is thoughtfully analyzing her own experience and building better systems for communicating with families and empowering students.

“Gaby consistently maintains a calm sense of skill, knowledge, expertise, and professionalism,” says school counselor Jill Fisher. “She is intelligent, inspiring, patient, aware, and takes initiative. Gaby has gone above and beyond to support our staff, families, community, and most importantly our students.”


ESD 123 Regional Classified School Employee of the Year

Nettie Severs
Pomeroy School District
Pomeroy Junior Senior High School

Nettie started out her career as a substitute teacher, but quickly found that the Resource Room was where she wanted to be. She is currently the Resource Room Paraprofessional at Pomeroy Junior Senior High. Nettie has also been very involved in the athletics program at Pomeroy. She has coached or assistant coached over a half dozen teams and currently serves as the Girls’ Basketball Coach and Senior High Athletic Director.

Colleagues and parents praise Nettie for her work ethic, reliability, and trustworthiness. She is the kind of staff person who can work with anyone and works well with students at all age levels because she makes learning fun.

Nettie has used her preparation as a special education teacher to inform her practice as a parapro. She builds individual learning plans that incorporate the state learning standards, expand STEM education, and prepare students for the state tests. She helps develop students’ Individualized Education Plans and attends all the IEP meetings. Nettie strives to help her students make real world connections to their studies and become problem solvers. Her students regularly move up a grade level and sometimes more as a result, but Nettie says her biggest achievement is getting students to really care about their own education.

“Nettie has helped transform our special services program to one that is thriving in academics and athletics as no other paraprofessional has ever been able to,” says Nettie’s supervisor Fred Knebel. “This is due to her disciplinary style, emotional connection with staff and students, and intelligence towards resolving issues quickly and appropriately.”


North Central ESD 171 Regional Classified School Employee of the Year

Donna Young
Wenatchee School District
Columbia Elementary

Donna has served as the Office Manager at Columbia for over 24 years. Her calm and warm demeanor makes the Columbia office a welcoming and safe place for all. She is a leader for many special events and programs including the school-wide Dr. Seuss celebration, the school district’s 5th grade career fair, and Columbia’s drill team. Donna’s numerous extra projects always have two things in common: they put kids’ learning first, and they seek to bring more of the community and real-life experiences into the school.

Donna is highly efficient and meticulous. Over her years in the office, she’s seen many new technologies and systems come and go. Donna’s unflappable approach, her willingness to learn new things (she just learned how to disconnect a feeding tube), and her natural ability as a collaborator set the tone for a building that always puts kids first.

Donna believes her greatest achievements are the seemingly small encounters with individual students – getting or keeping a diabetic student’s blood sugar under control or sitting with her lunch buddy. She has a heart for families and knows that their success is the key to their students’ success. Donna works with local churches to support needy families during the holidays and has helped organizers and volunteered at a naturalization ceremony at Columbia twice. Many Columbia parents have participated in these ceremonies.

“Donna demonstrates a deep knowledge of our kids, their families, and our community,” says retired counselor Linda Joy Holmes-Cook. “Whether students need academic support, physical necessities, emotional support, encouragement, or behavioral guidance, Donna has always gone above and beyond to help them.”


Northwest ESD 189 Regional Classified School Employee of the Year

Cindy Bartlette
Edmonds School District
Edmonds Elementary

Cindy has worked in Edmonds since 1998 when she started as a paraeducator. She became the Office Manager at Edmonds Elementary 10 years ago. She is the school’s coordinator to help families in need, the photography and yearbook clubs advisor, a mentor for new office managers, grant writer, and coordinates the school’s June celebratory slide show. Cindy is also the co-president of her professional association.

She works closely on school-wide issues such as truancy, making individualized plans to assist families and get students to school on time. Cindy has also been a leader on the school’s Positive Behavior Interventions and Support team. She has led parent trainings and designed promotional materials.

Colleagues praise her combination of compassion and “no nonsense” as particularly effective with students. She reads them well and always seems to know what they need whether it is time to cool down, a quick chat, or a gentle reminder of expectations. Cindy is solutions oriented – always focused on getting students to school, keeping them engaged, and improving their experience. She sees things from a broad perspective. When issues are discussed at school, she will lay out all the aspects of a problem with expertise and a sense of humor.

“It has been a pleasure to work with Cindy for the past seven years,” says counselor Marilyn Harris. “She is a leader who consistently demonstrates a strong knowledge base, excellent organizational skills, and an aptitude for working effectively with both children and adults. Cindy fosters strong and supportive relationships with students, parents, and staff members.”



   Updated 5/8/2017

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