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2012 Teacher of the Year

Teacher of the Year and Regional Winners

Mark Ray
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Mark Ray
Teacher Librarian
ESD 112 Regional Teacher of the Year
Skyview High School - Vancouver Public Schools
Portland State University, Master of Science (Educational Media), 1992
The Evergreen State College, Bachelor of Arts (Liberal Arts), 1987

For Mark, education is a family affair. Nearly 20 years into his career as a teacher librarian, he’s spent most of them in the same district where his father taught and his mother served lunch.

Parents and colleagues describe Mark as transformational and credit his vision and enthusiasm for the success of projects as varied as redesigning classroom assessment to igniting an enthusiasm for research in the student body.

Mark’s approach to working with students is based on a firm belief that there are many ways to say “yes” to a student and that even seemingly insignificant interactions can have an enormous impact on individual students. In addition to his work in the library and classrooms, Mark also coaches tennis at Skyview, where his nationally recognized “no cut” program welcomes students of all abilities.

Mark is an enthusiastic and creative partner. His efforts to empower teachers with technology and new communication skills are infused with a sense of urgency and possibility. Whether using Google Docs, Prezi or the pop culture phenomena of vampires, Mark is constantly reminding teachers that they have more control than they realize to dream and create new ways of engaging students.

“Every year, I can’t wait to see what new techniques he has come up with to help kids understand research,” said colleague Brenda McKinney. “From puppet to amazing Powerpoint skills, from in depth knowledge to saying it exactly how it is, Mark uses the stage of his media center to let kids know that research is accessible.”

Mark also believes passionately that teachers must begin stepping into more leadership roles and embrace the risk of trying something new if we are to meet the educational imperative of educating a new type of student and create a truly 21st century school system.

2012 Regional Teachers of the Year


John Hagney
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John Hagney
Social Studies and Humanities Teacher
ESD 101 Regional Teacher of the Year
Lewis & Clark High School - Spokane Public Schools
Eastern Washington University, Master of Arts (US Foreign Policy & Soviet History), 1991
Northern Illinois University, Bachelor of Arts (History), 1975
Post Graduate Study in Art History (Chicago Art Institute) and Chinese History (University of Washington)

John Hagney has been teaching social studies and humanities for 36 years at Lewis & Clark, where he focuses on creating scholars. He believes passionately in every child’s inherent intelligence – a revelation that came to him in 9th grade, the first time a teacher told him he was gifted.

John works tirelessly to connect his students to the real world implications of what they are studying. His groundbreaking Practicum in Community Involvement course, now in its 20th year, partners a year-long academic course in service learning with significant research and a community-based internship. Although the fact that students can earn college credit for the course is a great incentive, it’s the experience itself that resonates most. Parents and students reflect that John’s course and guidance inspired them, opened a world of possibilities and solidified a life-long commitment to service.

John is constantly looking for ways to expand the classroom for all students and is currently working on a modified version of PICI in which struggling students are mentored by staff at City Hall.

John is also a firm believer in the capabilities of our teachers and an advocate for inspiring our best and brightest young people to consider teaching. Why wait for Superman, he asks, when our country is full of potential Clark Kents if only we commit to investing in them and our kids.

Beth Mahugh
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Beth Mahugh
4th Grade Teacher
ESD 105 Regional Teacher of the Year
John Campbell Elementary School - Selah School District
Walden University, Master of Education (Elementary Reading & K–6 Math), 2009
Central Washington University, Bachelor of Science (Elementary Education), 2003
Appalachian State University, Bachelor of Science (Accounting), 1992

Beth is in her sixth year at John Campbell Elementary, where she teaches 4th grade. Her route to teaching has been rather circuitous. Beth grew up in a trailer in rural North Carolina. She is a self-described rebel who was determined to attend college despite her father’s protests. She became a CPA with a successful small business, but Beth always knew there was something missing, so she returned to school to become an elementary teacher.

At John Campbell, Beth focuses on building the confidence of her students and creating a safe place to risk failure on the road to understanding. She is constantly searching out ways for greater collaboration. Recently, Beth has been instrumental in transitioning her school to a collaborative Response to Intervention model. She also sits on the district’s vertical Social Studies committee.

Beth is the kind of teacher and person who looks for the holes that need filling. As the chair of her school’s social studies committee, on district committees, in church activities or cub scouts, Beth brings the same enthusiastic “can-do” attitude into every project.

Even Beth’s own recent battle with cancer couldn’t eclipse her positive energy (though it did slow her down a bit). Parents, colleague and students marveled at her strength and continue to be inspired by her commitment to life and her work as a teacher.

Lynne Olmos
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Lynne Olmos
English and Drama Teacher
ESD 113 Regional Teacher of the Year
Mossyrock Junior High and High School - Mossyrock School District
Seattle Pacific University, Professional Certificate, 2008
Gonzaga University, Bachelor of Arts (History & Secondary Education), 2002

Lynne is a National Board Certified Teacher in her 10th year at Mossyrock, where she teaches English and drama and coaches the equestrian team. Lynne’s first passion was horses; she began college with coursework in biology and genetics. When she returned at the age of 32, a parent of one of her riding students suggested, “You should be a teacher.” As Lynne said, “That was it.”

Lynne is a firm believer in the power of individual student voice. She knows that as they discover their voice, students become more confident. Lynne creates a classroom environment full of different creative ways for students to discover their own individuality and talents. They emerge with a knowledge that they are capable and smart and that adults care about what they have to say.

In her small, tight-knit community Lynne is also very active in various arts and theater groups. She sits on the Fire Mountain Arts Council, has directed numerous productions and teaches college courses.

Lynne encourages teachers to open their classroom doors and go public with their practice, so that community members, lawmakers and parents can see the truly outstanding work happening in our classrooms. She is convinced that true accountability will measure the opportunities given to students. Teachers, she says, should be judged not just by what their students know at the end of a year, but by what they want to know.

Mindy Eisele
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Mindy Eisele
English Teacher
Olympic ESD 114 Regional Teacher of the Year
Olympic High School - Central Kitsap School District
Southwest Missouri State University, 9–12 Language Arts Certificate, 2001
University of Maryland, Bachelor of Arts (English), 1994

Mindy has taught English at Olympic for the past ten years. She also coordinates the culminating project and serves as the journalism advisor. She fell in love with words early on, but spent a decade travelling and working in Europe before she returned to the states and became an English teacher.

In contrast to the classrooms she grew up in where students were expected to conform to a one-size-fits-all model of instruction, Mindy’s style of teaching focuses on understanding the individual motivations of each student and designing experiences that tap into those motivations. Her classroom is full of groups of students who analyze their own work and the work of their peers and look for trends in understanding that will help drive instruction.

Mindy is respected by colleagues as the kind of person who steps up to meet a challenge, so it’s no surprise that her most recent endeavor has been the school’s Achieve program. Achieve targets highly capable but low achieving students by preparing them for college, teaching them resiliency and instilling in them a sense of confidence the helps them overcome their fears of expectations.

Mindy is passionate about using student achievement data to guide instruction. In fact, if she had a rally cry, it would likely be, “Data-driven instruction!” In her classroom, school and wider community Mindy is committed to fighting against complacency and the status quo. She challenges teachers, parents and communities alike to let go of their assumptions and view education objectively: to own up to our responsibility to ensure that every student achieves.

Julie Trout
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Julie Trout
Fine Arts Teacher
Puget Sound ESD 121 Regional Teacher of the Year
Gatewood Elementary School - Seattle Public Schools
Antioch University – Seattle, Master of Education, 1997
West Virginia University, Bachelor of Arts (Family & Design Resources), 1988

Julie teaches art in Seattle - for the last three years at BF Day Elementary and this year at Gatewood. Julie’s passion for art in school was ignited in fourth grade when a teacher used collages, drama and quilting to bring joy into learning for the students in her rural West Virginia classroom.

Julie carries out this same practice in her own classroom, where she uses art as a vehicle for struggling students to discover their own potential or find new ways of communicating. She believes this experience sets kids up for success by establishing a school as a safe place where they can be themselves. The problem-solving and evaluation skills that students learn in context of their artwork can then be applied to other subjects and their own lives.

Julie is also passionate about using art as a vehicle for teaching other subjects. Because art is the representation of social and historical events, concepts in the humanities are more easily understood through the lens of art. Students understand where their own art comes from which gives them greater insight into the art of Holocaust survivors, Sudanese refugees or migrant farm workers.

As a colleague and teaching partner, Julie is committed to a personalized approach to professional development, one that targets what the whole teacher needs to stay healthy and vital, but also offers many choices. This focus on individual needs permeates all that Julie does and reinforces her belief that a preoccupation with standardized testing has promoted a one-size-fits-all approach to education that marginalizes the value of an arts rich classroom. And though she welcomes the concept of art as an academic discipline, she reminds us that not everything that matters can be measured.

Jaime Silva
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Jaime Silva
3rd Grade Bilingual Teacher
ESD 123 Regional Teacher of the Year
Longfellow Elementary School - Pasco School District
Heritage University, Master of Education (Professional Development), 1996
Washington State University, Bachelor of Arts (Education), 1993

Jaime has taught in Pasco for the past 17 years and is beginning his second year as a 3rd grade bilingual teacher at Longfellow. Jaime grew up as a migrant worker and began teaching at the age of 11, when he started tutoring his siblings. He attended night school for grades 9 – 12 and eventually went on to earn his teaching certificate and later master’s degree.

For Jaime, teaching is about learning from each other and keeping students engaged throughout the day. He believes his joy in the accomplishments of his students is magnified by his own experiences and that enthusiasm translates to the students. They know he understands because he’s been where they are.

Jaime is also very involved in bridging the gap between Spanish speaking and non-Spanish speaking members of the community. For the past eight years he has helped to plan and teach in the district’s annual Spanish camp for teachers, staff and administrators. He also presents at the annual conference for his district’s migrant and bilingual Parent Advisory Committee.

Jaime sees teaching as an inherently collaborative profession and thrives on the sharing and evaluation that happens on a daily basis through lesson studies, classroom observations and group work. He is keenly aware of the impact his work has on the teachers who will have his students the next year, and for this reason he believes strongly that master teachers play an important role in teacher evaluation. Like most teachers, Jaime is confronted daily with the push to achieve more with less even as poverty and class sizes increase. “But,” he said, “we are in the business of educating children because we have a passion to transform lives. We teach because we believe in the powerful impact that a well-educated child can have on the future.”

Brad Soliday
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Brad Soliday
Social Studies Teacher
North Central ESD 171 Regional Teacher of the Year
Manson High School - Manson School District
Grand Canyon University, Master of Arts (Teaching), 2001
Central Washington University, Bachelor of Arts (History & Education), 1994

Brad teaches Social Studies at Manson, where he began his teaching career 16 years ago. Brad realized very early on that he wanted to be a teacher and coach. He approaches teaching in much the same way he did his very first job – picking rocks out of fallow fields – with a deep sense of responsibility to do his best and meet high expectations. In his school and community, Brad is an active volunteer for his church, a Pee-Wee football coach, basketball referee, FFA judge, class advisor and occasional auctioneer.

Brad lives for the authentic engagement of his students that he believes arises naturally when students begin talking about the world around them. His colleagues would probably tell you that enthusiasm has a lot to do with Brad and his masterful storytelling. It’s not uncommon to find him co-opting everyday items such as crutches to use as props as he re-enacts scenes from history.

Brad takes great pride in the fact that his students’ enthusiasm often translates to careers of service to country and an increased ability to look beyond themselves as individuals. Brad believes passionately that healthy families hold the key to student success. He reminds us that the challenges we face are much bigger than just single issues such as teacher evaluation and that schools cannot and should not be responsible for solving all of society’s problems. Even so, Brad’s colleagues often single him out as a “father figure” to many of Manson’s students who are drawn to his loyalty, integrity and honesty.

Tammy Buss Alejandre
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Tammy Buss Alejandre
1st – 4th Grade Teacher
Northwest ESD 189 Regional Teacher of the Year
Eagleridge Elementary School - Ferndale School District
Washington State University, Master of Arts (Education & School Counseling), 1998
Washington State University, Bachelor of Arts (K–8 Education), 1993

Tammy teaches 1st – 4th grade at Eagleridge, a position she has held for the past 15 years. She is a National Board Certified Teacher who mentors student interns, helping them focus not only on student’s learning but also on why certain teaching practices work.

Tammy’s classroom is alive with integrated curriculum that weaves essential reading, writing and math skills into all subjects and uses historical events such as the Japanese Internment to teach big picture concepts like respect alongside Washington State History.

Tammy also loves math, but she knows this one subject can be challenging for many students and families. When the district introduced a new curriculum, Tammy held a series of sessions for parents. This quickly grew into an annual Family Math Night, in which parents and caregivers get familiar with the curriculum and students have a chance to teach their families fun games and exercises to play at home.

In her building, Tammy has been a leader for school improvement. As a member of her School Improvement team, she helped the school shift focus from teaching to student learning – setting up a system of detailed goals in reading and math. She also drafted the new schedule that increased grade level team planning time from 30 minutes to 210 minutes a week.

Tammy is passionate about closing the achievement gap, and believes we must work with schools that struggle not threaten them. Although she sees many things that teachers can do to improve their skills in this area, she believes that we must fully invest in the programs that support struggling families, such as Head Start, if we are to make a lasting impact.

   Updated 9/18/2012

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