The following employees were selected to receive April 2022 Employee Excellence Awards and recognition at the April 12 school board meeting. The recipients will be recognized via Zoom.

  • Erin Annis, teacher, Skyview High School
  • Jeremy Berliss, principal, Jim Tangeman Center and Gateway to Adult Transition Education
  • Aiko Chappell, Family-Community Resource Center coordinator, Minnehaha Elementary
  • Kayla Hougan, teacher, Gaiser Middle School; Adam Lemucchi, behavior analyst, special services department; and Sarah Martin, paraeducator, Gaiser Middle School
  • Libby Odren, special programs clerk, visual and performing arts and Advancement Via Individual Determination

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.

Erin Annis, teacher, Skyview High School

Teacher Erin AnnisErin is described as hard working, compassionate, talented and dedicated to continuous improvement. Throughout the pandemic, she has innovated to engage her students. When a few students needed to quarantine, she quickly found ways for them to participate in classroom activities from home. Said one parent, “Ms. Annis was not only quick to respond, but also came up with positive and interactive solutions. I heard laughter and positive conversation, and it lifted his spirits.”

Jeremy Berliss, principal, Jim Tangeman Center and Gateway to Adult Transition Education

Principal Jeremy BerlissAmong his many positive qualities, Jeremy has a reputation for showing up–in every sense of the word. One day he can be found helping a student who is upset or mopping the floor. The next, he is working to keep both schools safe during the pandemic. Said one nominator, “He has a knack for meeting students and staff where they are at with a humble heart, and engages people with compassion and grace, all while holding the bar high and the expectations firm.”

Aiko Chappell, Family-Community Resource Center coordinator, Minnehaha Elementary

Aiko’s work helps students focus on learning. She connects families with resources to obtain food, clothing and school supplies. She also assists parents and guardians with securing housing, employment and health services. Her work can help transform families’ futures and students’ school experiences. In addition, Aiko coordinates events and opportunities for parents and guardians to connect with Minnehaha and further engage in their children’s learning. Said one nominator, “Aiko is amazing, kind, courageous, thoughtful and thorough!”

Kayla Hougan, teacher, Gaiser Middle School; Adam Lemucchi, behavior analyst, special services department; and Sarah Martin, paraeducator, Gaiser Middle School

Kayla Hougan, Sarah Martin and Adam Lemucchi

From left: Kayla Hougan, Sarah Martin and Adam Lemucchi

This team excels at being flexible and creative to meet the needs of students who require extra support. To help one student return to school, Kayla, Adam and Sarah worked closely with the student’s parents to provide a comfortable, safe return to the classroom. The team’s combination of careful monitoring, technical knowledge, communication and perseverance helped the student become more self-aware and ultimately successful at school. Said the parent, “I can’t be more thankful for all this hard work and dedication.”

Libby Odren, special programs clerk, visual and performing arts and Advancement Via Individual Determination

Libby OdrenNo job is too little or too big for Libby. From supporting several different arts programs to organizing tutors for AVID students, Libby applies her organizational skills to ensure that the event or program is a success. “She is a very conscientious worker,” said one nominator. “She never misses a deadline, she has good ideas and always has a positive attitude!” said another. Libby can always be counted on to work hard on behalf of her colleagues and students across the district.

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