2019 Washington State Classified School Employee of the Year
Congratulations to Martha Wisdom (Tonasket)for winning the 2019 Washington State Classified School Employee of the Year award!
And congratulations to all the regional winners!Read more to find out who won in your region.
Martha Wisdom - Washington State Classified School Employee of the Year
Migrant Records Clerk and Secretary - Tonasket School District
Martha holds a degree in Public Accounting from the Autonomous National University of Mexico (UNAM). During her years as a student, she discovered her passion for education and teaching. At UNAM she worked in the Investigation Division, Secretary of Publishing and Editorial Promotion, and Coordinator of Acts and Protocol. During the 1999 UNAM student strike, her participation in the communications area was essential to carry out extramural classes for more than 12,000 students.
In Washington, Martha has volunteered and worked with families through the Okanogan County Child Development Association. As the migrant record clerk and secretary for Tonasket, her performance goes beyond the introduction of data to the system. Martha is an interpreter and translator. She has participated in the administration of innumerable tests for Spanish speaking students. She provides information to families on what they can do at home to help their children be successful in school.
Martha has been instrumental in many of the wrap around and enrichment opportunities that support Hispanic families in her community. This includes English language classes for parents, Family Leadership Institute, monthly evening events, and a home visit summer school program. Her impact ripples through generations, and she is known as a trusted advocate and respected collaborator.
“Martha’s role, hard work, and endless dedication to the Hispanic students and families in our communities is heartwarming,” says Principal Kristi Krieg. “She has helped create a culture where families and students feel welcome, supported, and encouraged to be their best. She is a leader in paving the way for success, for not only the students, but also for families in our community. She is a passionate advocate for helping families and also supporting the school system. It is a balance that is often hard to find, and she is a master in her work.”
Gayle Capsel - ESD 113 Regional Classified School Employee of the Year
Snug Harbor Childcare Coordinator - Aberdeen School District - Harbor High School
Gayle’s first teaching job was as a long-term sub in the classroom of the elementary school teacher who had inspired her to work in education. From teaching elementary children to becoming the director of an award winning onsite childcare for the teen parent program at Harbor High School, Gayle has been successful in fulfilling her goals of improving the learning of children of all ages. Going to work each day brings her new experiences, challenges, and the satisfaction of knowing that she is removing barriers for students and helping them to graduate.
For the past several years, Gayle has been implementing early learning standards in Snug Harbor Childcare for the Early Achievers program. The childcare was the first center on the harbor to earn a Level 4 rating in 2018. She strives to create a sense of openness and accessibility for all at Snug Harbor – parents are welcome to visit the center daily and other high school students can earn credit in the center while sharpening their workplace skills.
Gayle has established relationships in the community with many nonprofits and local government agencies to raise money and build partnerships that improve student services and educational opportunities. She has been an active member locally and statewide for the Public School Employees of Washington serving in various leadership roles to give support and guidance to union members. In the many roles she plays, Gayle is a dependable advocate for the unique needs of her students, colleagues, and community.
“She is more than a child care worker to our staff and students,” says Principal Derek Cook. “She is a mentor, and to many, a stable mother figure who gives unselfishly of her time to help them. She is driven by a passion to ensure that the students who society doesn’t see or often want to acknowledge, have a chance to better their lives.”
Robin Hendrickson - ESD 101 Regional Classified School Employee of the Year
Library Paraprofessional - Pullman Public Schools - Franklin Elementary
Robin loves sharing literature and learning with elementary readers. She got her start in education at the preschool level, teaching at a private preschool for three years. This experience translated well into working in elementary education.
As librarian, Robin strives to incorporate a fun and interactive environment that includes both literature appreciation and reading advocacy. Whenever possible, she wraps social and emotional concepts or math support into read-alouds for younger students, and she enjoys introducing older students to literary favorites. She collaborates regularly with the district librarian on library related projects and is often adding thematic enrichments and events in her library.
Robin fosters a sense of community by providing library related extra-curricular opportunities. Fourth and fifth grade students are able to participate as Shelf Elves – shelving books, straightening shelves, and caring for their library during recess. Robin also hosts Library Club during Friday recess, inviting students to do book reviews, enjoy independent reading, or relax with online read-alouds and chess.
Robin places great importance on collaborating with grade-level teachers, staff, and families to provide school-wide support of reading and literature When she noticed a gap in special reading programs that affected 3rd grade, she and created a special multi-lesson "How A Book Is Made" project for them that culminates in a visit with a local author and illustrator. Recently she served as the yearbook coordinator and created an organized and streamlined process during its transition to the PTA, including a pre-designed list of volunteer jobs that aligned with yearbook tasks.
“Robin goes out of her way to support teachers and students,” says teacher and parent Heather Strader. “She actively seeks out grade level themes and standards and pulls materials in advance for us. I often find a little note or idea from Robin in my mailbox that directly enhances the standards I am teaching. To say we are spoiled by her support is an understatement.”
Zita Moser - ESD 189 Regional Classified School Employee of the Year
Preschool and Title I Paraeducator - Sedro-Woolley School District - Sedro Woolley Senior High School
Zita, began her career in the accounting and financial world. She earned a Finance Degree from Washington State University. After many years of being a parent volunteer in her sons' school, Zita began working as a paraeducator in 2002 with the Kindergarten/ Developmental Kindergarten team. Eventually she moved on to run the preschool program in the high school. This unique program allows the high school's Child Psychology students to put what they learned in the classroom into practice with the preschoolers at the preschool. Zita also shares her day at the neighboring elementary school with Title I students. She teaches all levels of math to her students.
Zita enjoys working with her three and four-year-old preschoolers, elementary students, and high school students on a daily basis. This diverse range of students gives her the opportunity to have a better insight on how she can best prepare her students to smoothly transition from one grade level to another. Zita's ability to differentiate the different levels of instruction is what makes her successful. It fills her heart when her high school students choose a career in education because of the opportunity they were given in the preschool.
Colleagues admire many of Zita’s qualities, but her strength as an instructor, her ability to build relationships, and her skill at working all students through complicated problem solving are standouts. Zita seems to have found the perfect balance between high expectations, compassion, and humor that instills the critical qualities of persistence and grit in every student who steps into her classroom.
“Zita helps create lessons which facilitate rich learning by using real-life application and continually pushes advanced students beyond the norm,” says Principal Kerri Carlton. “High school students walk away from the class feeling empowered and successful to pursue a career in the field of education students; students are able to reach heights they didn’t imagine possible.”
Vickie Rogers - ESD 123 Regional Classified School Employee of the Year
Health Clinician, RN - Walla Walla Public Schools
Vickie came to her career in education with 18 years of experience as a nurse in women’s services at a hospital where she worked to educate young people (and especially young moms) about health, nutrition, child development, and parenting. Vickie has found that working in the high school setting as a school nurse is the perfect way to utilize her skills in health care and her passion for mentoring young people. Her mentoring opportunities increased in 2015 when Vickie’s district transitioned to a model where RNs supervise Health Room Assistants at several sites. This gave her the chance to develop policies, procedures, trainings that would both ensure great care for students and develop the skills and confidence of these front line care providers.
Vickie also spends time with individual students discussing how lifestyle choices impact their health and plays a part in their success at school. She works closely with counselors and other staff to assess students who exhibit “at risk” behaviors such as truancy in school and look for patterns in the health history that might shed light on why a particular student is struggling. Helping students with medical issues, such as diabetes or ADHD, to become independent in the management of their health is one of the most rewarding parts of Vickie’s work. She enjoys the opportunity to work alongside both student and parent to accomplish this and has a deep appreciation for the trust families put in her and the school to care for each child’s medical needs.
“Vickie has a unique ability to help students build self-advocacy and communication skills as she helps them understand their various physical and social/emotional needs,” says Principal Ron Higgins. “She is aware of the impact of the physical and social/emotional health of our students and always provides creative ways to assure our support for assuring students’ academic success is grounded in looking at the whole child.”
Denise Daniels - ESD 121 Regional Classified School Employee of the Year
Assistant Director of Equity, Outreach, and Engagement - Auburn School District
Denise began working as a paraeducator to become involved more with her children's school. Working in a low-income, culturally diverse building, she saw the multiple disparities that existed for both students and families of color, and changing that dynamic became the focus of her career.
Through her work, Denise has had the opportunity to make a difference for students, families, and staff members by successfully impacting outcomes and leading transformational change. She does this work through a combination of staff training, special events, and direct service to families and students. She has developed a districtwide engagement process to address racial equity with staff, families, and students called connecting on racial equity (CORE). Denise’s work with this team and senior leadership has helped Auburn grow in its understanding of equity and how equity (or its lack) impacts students, families, and staff daily.
Denise’s work is deeply rooted in supporting families, and she considers her work with Auburn’s family liaisons some of her most significant. The district’s family liaisons are coordinating special events, assisting student groups, translating documents, calling homes, supporting staff, and much more. Denise is committed to maintaining the highest level of professional development and collaboration for this team in recognition of their invaluable role in their buildings.
In the larger community, Denise serves as a leader on the issue of homelessness and the city’s new effort to increase health and wellness. Denise is also expanding her educational advocacy as a member of Kent School Board and serves as a mentor to students in Kent.
“Denise is a strong woman who searches out the barriers to equity and engagement and then sets into motion ways to work through them in any manner possible,” says assistant superintendent Rhonda Larson. “Through her, I have become a better leader and advocate. I believe I have become a better person – and I know I’m not the only one.”
Marie Stalsberg - ESD 112 Regional Classified School Employee of the Year
Computer Guided Study Staff Assistant - Evergreen Public Schools (Clark) - Mountain View High School
Marie works in the Thunder Academy – a wrap-around, in-building, credit recovery program with an impressive 96% graduation rate. Colleagues credit Marie’s oversight and organization with a significant increase in student success since the program’s redesign in 2013 and a rise in the number of credits students are earning back each year from 795 in 2013-14 to 1,067 in 2017-18.
Marie earned her BS in Business Administration and began her career at Hewlett Packard. After starting a family, she decided to stay home. Marie loved volunteering in her children's classrooms. When she returned to work, it was as a substitute classified employee with the school district. Her first permanent position was as a floral assistant at Mountain View.
Ten years later Marie is still at Mountain View where students continue to tug at her heartstrings. Marie knows there is no one formula for student success. She embraces the variety of her job that includes time both in and outside of the classroom doing home visits, calling families, and finding out what motivates a student. For Marie it’s all worth it if she can help a student realize their potential.
“Before meeting Marie I was struggling to stay in school and keep good grades, so I eventually dropped out,” says former student Cassie. “After I re-enrolled I was put into a program for credit recovery where I met Marie, and it was the first time I had met a teacher who made me feel like graduating was a possibility for me. Whenever I left, lost or gave up hope she was always there to remind me that I could do it – I just needed to keep trying . . . After a long road of struggles I finally did it. I was the first person in my family to graduate and none of it would have been possible without the help of Marie.”
Lola Sarsfield - ESD 105 Regional Classified School Employee of the Year
Paraeducator - Mount Adams School District
Lola Sarsfield is the third of nine children, a house wife, and a mother. She was raised alongside a sister with severe handicaps and has a son who was born with health impairments. Lola always dreamed of teaching in a one-room schoolhouse for children with special needs. During her formative years, she volunteered with Fircrest School in Seattle, a home for persons with disabilities. This inspired her love of working with people with special needs.
As a paraeducator, Lola's skills and compassion are evident and have only grown over time. In a small community like White Swan, Lola’s duties touch every part of school life. In addition to providing general supervision in the morning, lunchroom, and afternoon, she helps train new special education teachers and paraeducators. Recently she was also a contributor to the new reading and math programs and has become an emergency substitute.
Lola's ability to ensure that others feel safe and welcome has resulted in her being positioned as school-community liaison for all students. Colleagues say her skills in relationship building were evident as she developed and implemented the Mount Adams Middle School PBIS detention program, which due to its success has now been implemented at White Swan High School. One of the most impactful projects Lola has worked on is the development of a student store to teacher real world skills while raising money for field trips and other enrichment to create better access to opportunities for the students in her small rural community.
“In addition to the normal challenges of growing up, Lola’s students often face generational trauma, alcohol and drug abuse, homelessness, and/or being raised by anyone but their parents,” says colleague Jodi Sheppard. “Lola acknowledges these heartaches, provides compassion and a listening ear, floods them with encouragement, and always believes that they will overcome these challenges and succeed in both school and life.”
Stephanie Doebbler - ESD 114 Regional Classified School Employee of the Year
Receptionist and Registrar - Quileute Tribal School
Stephanie began working in education by following in her mother’s footsteps - a school counselor who was named “Indian Educator of the Year” in 1991. Seeing how much her mom loved helping students and families made Stephanie realize she wanted to work in a school too.
Stephanie is the kind of educator who anticipates needs before anyone else. She helps organize many of the schools celebrations and educational events as well as fundraisers and other drives for those in need. Stephanie recently led an impromptu donation drive to support local Coast Guard members during the government shutdown, and she coordinates staff donations for the annual auction that supports holiday gifts for children across the region. She also serves as the district homeless liaison. Colleagues confirm no one goes in need if Stephanie knows about it.
One of the things Stephanie enjoys most about her job is welcoming students, parents, staff, and visitors to the school. She is the conduit between community and school. Stephanie has built long-term relationships with families and taken many new teachers under her wing to help them come to a deeper understanding of the culture and identities of the students they serve. Perhaps no event exemplifies this important work better than the Elders’ Day Celebration an annual event honoring traditional food, culture, and knowledge passed down. Stephanie helps recruit hunters, fishers, and cooks to prepare the feast for 200 people.
“She frequently shares information to help the staff understand the family history and needs of the children we serve,” says Superintendent Mark Jacobson. “She talks with trouble students, guiding the to make positive decisions in their lives; she talks with parents, helping them understand the importance of working with the staff and the importance of getting their children to school every day and on relationships she has built over her tenure and her community involvement. Things get done because of her dedication, hard, work, and community support.”
Originally posted on OSPI’s Site
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