The following employees were selected for the February 2018 Excellence Award recognition. They were honored at the Feb. 27 school board meeting. Pictured from left to right are:

  • Ben Johnston, custodian, Washington Elementary
  • Sarah Kries, teacher, Columbia River High School
  • Kim Slater, clerk, student welfare and attendance department
  • Katie Hardy, visual art specialist, Roosevelt Elementary
  • Peggy Hanes, teacher librarian, Alki Middle School

The Excellence Award is given to five employees and/or small teams from October to May each school year. Nominations are open to staff, students, parents and community members. Nominees are selected for recognition by a committee of their peers.

For Peggy, the library is an extension of the classroom. She supports teachers in reaching their classroom goals and selects books that work with curriculum, as well as books that encourage students to read for the joy of reading. Peggy also led Alki’s pilot student iPad program long before iPads were introduced district-wide. Battles of the Books, bookmark contests, Geography Bees and other fun activities that she coordinates engage students in their learning. Under Peggy’s care, the library is the heart of Alki.

Katie empowers students to express themselves through art. Roosevelt’s hallways display a beautiful gallery showcasing artists of the month. She offers before-school, recess and lunch opportunities to work on individual projects, which include assembly program art, Thanksgiving table decorations and schoolwide posters. Katie also works with the PTA to guide students in creating pieces that are sold to raise money for teacher grants. Students can feel an even greater sense of pride in themselves and their school because of these opportunities.

Ben’s willingness to help whenever and wherever he is needed has endeared him to the Washington community. No mess is too big or too frequent for him to handle. He takes the time to welcome new employees and let them know he’s available to provide assistance. He has positive interactions with students, each of whom he knows by name and offers a smile. Ben is polite, kind and gracious. His co-workers say that they are so thankful to have him in their school.

Sarah’s senior civics class challenges students to examine issues and processes they may not have encountered, such as voting for the very first time and learning where their power and water come from so that they can make informed decisions. She also is an advocate for students’ success, always being the first to volunteer to develop an individualized education program or participate in a parent-teacher conference. With Sarah’s influence, students become more engaged in their school and world.

Though Kim’s informal title of “discipline guru” sounds intimidating, it’s a nickname she earned from her expertise in data systems knowledge of district and state policies related to discipline and attendance issues. Anyone who has worked with her will tell you that she is professional, kind and helpful to everyone. When one school had an open clerk position, Kim supported them until a new staff member was hired. Through her actions, words and attitude, she demonstrates how much she truly cares.

Congratulations to these staff members! They join the many VPS employees who have received Excellence Awards since 2007.