The following employees were selected to receive December 2021 Employee Excellence Awards and recognition at the Dec. 14 school board meeting. The recipients will be recognized via Zoom.

  • Amber Beardmore, associate principal, Hudson’s Bay High School
  • Jennalee Garcia Montero, teacher, Lincoln Elementary School
  • Sarah Halgren, paraeducator, Marshall Elementary
  • Allison Loncar, teacher, Washington Elementary
  • Karla VanAllen, paraeducator, Vancouver iTech Preparatory

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.

Amber Beardmore, associate principal, Hudson’s Bay High School

Amber BeardmoreAmber leads with empathy, compassion, integrity and a sense of humor. Her ability to connect with others is a gift. She treats each student and staff member with kindness, without fail, every time. When a student is upset, Amber helps them process their feelings and calm down. When her co-workers need support, she steps in to help, and demonstrates a strong work ethic that inspires others. Those who work closely with her say that she is a tremendous asset to Bay and to everyone who interacts with her.

Jennalee Garcia Montero, teacher, Lincoln Elementary School

Jennalee Garcia MonteroParents and co-workers alike praise Jennalee’s skill for meeting the needs of each student. Her connections to her kindergarten students were a lifeline when schools were closed and during remote learning. Jennalee also has provided enriching opportunities for Lincoln students and staff members to learn more about Native American and indigenous cultures and histories. Recently, she facilitated an opportunity for every student to experience playing authentic hand drums and witness an intertribal drum performance. Said one nominator, “Jennalee inspires more than 5-year-olds—she is an inspiration to us all!”

Sarah Halgren, paraeducator, Marshall Elementary

Students gravitate toward Sarah for a multitude of reasons. She creates opportunities to design and make crafts, providing tactile activities that engage her students who have unique communication needs. Sarah also has a talent for forging connections, helping her students make their needs known even when they cannot verbalize them. Her calming presence is a source of patience and compassion. As a result, her students flourish. Sarah’s co-workers also appreciate her contributions as she collaborates with them to develop strategies for encouraging student communication.

Allison Loncar, teacher, Washington Elementary

Allison LoncarAllison is warm, patient and enthusiastic about her students and about teaching, said her nominator. That enthusiasm recently manifested in a science project where her first-grade students had an opportunity to learn about animals through reading and research. In collaboration with a parent, Allison devoted a considerable amount of time to crafting a unique learning experience that her students loved. She also is planning a lesson that will challenge her students to apply their engineering and math skills. Said her nominator, “She is an inspiration to us all!”

Karla VanAllen, paraeducator, Vancouver iTech Preparatory

Karla VanAllenFrom supporting students as they make plans to get back on track to celebrating their learning achievements, Karla is invested in positive outcomes for iTech students. She’s been known to coach two best friends as they work through an argument, serve as the referee for impromptu wall ball contests, build garden boxes, help with projects and learn alongside students. From arrival to dismissal, Karla also is an expert in all the operational details of the school. Her hard work helps make iTech a place where everyone can thrive!

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