Four employees were selected for the February 2015 recognition. They were honored at the Feb. 24 school board meeting. Pictured from left to right are:

  • Samir Sankari, counselor, Fort Vancouver High School
  • Luanna Parno, teacher, Fort Vancouver High School
  • Sally Charuhas, executive director, special services
  • John Suter, bus service worker, transportation

The Excellence Award is given to two to four 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.

Underneath Samir’s calm, respectful style is a compassionate intensity that makes him a respected counselor and colleague. His reputation is characterized by honesty and a dedication to following through on commitments, no matter to whom they’re made. Said one of his colleagues, “When working with students and parents with limited English proficiency, Samir shelters his language while maintaining the same high expectations he has of all students. … He takes the time necessary for each individual, even those students who are not part of his assigned caseload, and never gives the impression that he does not have time for them.”
Wisdom + enthusiasm x dedication = one amazing math teacher: Luanna Parno. Her passion for the subject pays off for her students, who in turn display exponential gains. Luanna does this by embracing every one of them, whether they’re just learning about negative numbers or cruising through calculus. “She devotes a large portion of her time to helping them to understand math by tutoring them before and after school on a daily basis—even on Friday afternoons before breaks,” explained one of her colleagues. Clearly, when it comes to being an excellent math teacher, there’s no problem Luanna can’t solve!
For some students, success in the classroom or in life might seem like little more than an abstraction. In Vancouver Public Schools, however, those ideas have gained definition because of Sally Charuhas. Her efforts to design and lead the safe and supportive schools initiative have provided the tools to meet the social, emotional and security needs of all students. By bringing in Response to Intervention, she’s ensured that everyone has access to differentiated interventions. In addition, she’s reached out to our community to support families with students who have special needs. Thanks to Sally, student success has become a reality.
“Friendly” is a common description. “Positive” is another. But “helpful” is perhaps the term most often used in the transportation department to describe John Suter. And it seems that his desire to provide assistance has few restrictions. When a colleague needed a squeaky service door to be repaired, John’s response was simply, “Let me see what I can do to help.” Said that colleague, “If we could all say those same words, just think what we could accomplish.” Kudos to John for showing us all what kind of success might be possible when we’re willing to help out someone else!

Congratulations to these employees! They join the more than 250 employees who have received the award since 2007.