Four employees were selected for the April 2014 recognition. They were honored at the April 22 school board meeting. Pictured left to right are:
• Cynthia Geddes, teacher, Hazel Dell Elementary School
• Kati Armstrong, program specialist, career and technical education department
• Gail Paice, program specialist, curriculum and instruction department
• Sara Neal, digital media specialist, communications office

The Excellence Award is given to two to four employees 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.

It’s for good reason that people wax poetic when talking about Cynthia Geddes. Cynthia takes a targeted approach to student success and exudes the highest level of professionalism. Said one nominator, “Ms. Geddes doesn’t just teach. She touches lives one by one, day after day.” Wrote another, “She stands out due to her amazing ability to control a classroom while still emitting an energy of compassion and caring.” Added a third, “Her work ethic embodies everything that I believe to make a great teacher. When I see her at work, it is proof that the public education system is thriving.”
If you’ve ever needed lunch or a caffeine fix while visiting the Jim Parsley Community Center, you probably know Kati Armstrong’s work. Kati manages the Fort Vancouver Culinary Arts students who run the Passport Café and coffee cart. Although Kati provides many of the recipes and purchases all the supplies, perhaps her greatest contribution is nourishing the students’ skills. Kati trains them in all aspects of professional food service, from prep to point of sale. As a result, former students have gone on to restaurant management jobs just a few years after graduating. With Kati’s guidance, her students are really cooking.
As a force multiplier in the district’s Challenge program, Gail Paice earns rave reviews from parents and students she guides through the testing process. Gail patiently listens to every question and responds with respect, insight and kindness. She also organizes each Challenge testing, from creating schedules to managing the granular details such as tissue boxes and sign-in sheets. When she’s not immersed in the Challenge program, Gail can be found coordinating the renowned AP Summer Institute. Gail’s efficiency and good humor are assets not only to the curriculum department, but also to parents, students and educators all over the U.S.
The Vancouver Public Schools website encompasses more than 400 webpages. Managing them all is the creative, talented Sara Neal. Sara’s web and graphic design background enables her to produce a range of eye-catching, user-friendly digital communications. She’s mastered everything from PHP to the Adobe Creative Suite and continues to expand her knowledge of the ever-changing digital world. One of her greatest talents is her ability to decipher dozens of last-minute requests from laypeople and keep her sense of humor intact. As her nominator wrote, “She always has a smile on her face—even when you are driving her crazy.”

Congratulations to these staff members! They join the more than 250 VPS employees who have received Excellence Awards since 2007.