The following employees were selected to receive February 2022 Employee Excellence Awards and recognition at the Feb. 8 school board meeting. The recipients will be recognized via Zoom.

  • Eric Bindewald, teacher librarian, Sacajawea Elementary
  • Mindy Ding, nurse, Marshall Elementary
  • Tom Edwards, building operator, Jason Lee Middle School
  • Courtney McEwan, instructional coach, Heights Campus
  • Sarah O’Mara, teacher, Alki Middle School and Skyview High School

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

Eric Bindewald, teacher librarian, Sacajawea Elementary

Eric BindewaldWhat started out as a rough Monday morning for one Sacajawea student turned into a great day. After staying home initially, the student and their parent watched the school’s news show from home. Seeing Eric discuss books that were available in the library transformed the student’s outlook, turning tears into a smile. When the news concluded, the student said that they want to go to school after all to learn about the books that Eric had highlighted.

Mindy Ding, nurse, Marshall Elementary

Mindy DingDuring her time at Marshall, Mindy responds to the varying medical needs among the school’s approximately 400 students. Her work includes creating and updating individual health care plans for the school’s youngest special education students and students who have complex medical needs. She administers medications and helps students manage health conditions. Mindy also responds to and monitors everything from students’ immunizations to illnesses and injuries that could impact students’ learning. Her efforts are vital to a successful school experience.

Tom Edwards, building operator, Jason Lee Middle School

Tom EdwardsTom and his team have perfected the art of flexibility over the past two years. Since the pandemic began, they have worked hard to prevent and mitigate the spread of COVID-19, including installing plexiglass barriers and thoroughly cleaning the entire school, to name just a few duties. Tom’s efforts help ensure that Jason Lee Middle School is a safe environment for students and staff members. Said his nominator of Tom and his team: “They make our lives much easier!”

Courtney McEwan, instructional coach, Heights Campus

Courtney McEwanAs Vancouver Virtual Learning Academy and Heights Campus have expanded, so has Courtney’s role. She secures materials for students and staff members and is integral to programs running smoothly. Courtney also mentors teachers. Said one, “There has never been a time that I have sent a request for help that she has not made time for me. Her passion to help others really touches me.” A common saying at the Heights Campus is “Thank goodness we have Courtney!”

Sarah O’Mara, teacher, Alki Middle School and Skyview High School

Sarah O'MaraStudents grow both musically and personally in Sarah’s orchestra classes. She is a trusted adult that students can count on for support and advocacy, and she maintains a great rapport with them. Sarah also challenges her students’ musical abilities. As a result, many of them have gone on to earn spots in state performance groups and receive accolades. Just as importantly, they gain a love of music that they will carry with them long after graduation.

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

Nominate an employee for the award