The following employees were selected for the January 2019 Excellence Award recognition. They were honored at the Jan. 22 school board meeting. Pictured from left:

  • Elizabeth Owen, family-community resource coordinator, Washington Elementary
  • Lois Brace, secretary, Alki Middle School
  • Paulette Selman, school psychologist, Ogden Elementary
  • Nichole Pratap, teacher, Ogden Elementary
  • Meagan Graves, teacher, Felida Elementary

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.

Ever the consummate professional, Lois is organized, efficient and resourceful. In rare instances when she doesn’t know the answer to a question, she diligently searches for the answer to solve the problem and provide the top-notch customer service for which Alki is known. She’s praised by her co-workers, who say that she radiates kindness and warmth to students, families and staff members. Everyone’s day at Alki is a little brighter thanks to Lois.

Last fall, this National Board–certified teacher held a seven-hour training for her fellow Felida educators on the Next Generation science standards. Thanks to this acclaimed professional development, the school’s more than 700 students are benefiting from their teachers’ engaging, effective science instruction. Her impact extends beyond science, too. Meagan has spent time helping her colleagues learn teaching techniques that can be applied in all subject areas. Meagan’s collaborative approach helps Felida Elementary flourish!

Elizabeth often is the first person at Washington to know about—and address—families’ needs, including food, clothing and assistance paying bills. She leads a Walking School Bus route every morning and runs a robotics club after school. She coordinates the school’s well-attended literacy and math nights. Her job title is difficult to determine, said one nominator: “Technology instructor? Volunteer coordinator? Chef? Banker? Fashion Designer? Guardian angel? I think I will have to go with ‘all of the above.’”

If a good teacher motivates students to learn, a great teacher inspires students to love learning and self-direct. Nichole’s personalized lessons lead students to take responsibility for their education. Her approach holds students accountable while also inspiring them work harder and believe in their abilities both inside and outside of the classroom. According to her students, respect and dignity are the hallmarks of her teaching style. Said one, “She is awesome and I want to be like her.”

Paulette is a strong leader within the school psychologist group. Motivated to assist her colleagues and the district, Paulette implemented recommendations from the National Association of School Psychologists that emphasize the role of school psychologists as mental health experts in their buildings. Students and families benefit from her work to help school psychologists best serve them. Said her nominator, “Paulette is a great example of leading with respect, professionalism, kindness and humor.”

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