January Employee Excellence Award

Six employees were selected for the January 2015 recognition. They were honored at the Jan. 27 school board meeting. Pictured from left to right are:

  • Stephanie Kennedy, teacher, Minnehaha and Lake Shore elementary schools
  • Stephanie Jakubek, counselor, Skyview High School
  • Steve Lindblom, principal, Lieser campus
  • Harry Russell, district resource officer rover, safety and security
  • Arne Allen, district resource officer rover, safety and security
  • Ben Leisman, district resource officer rover, safety and security

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.

Ask Stephanie’s colleagues what they admire most about her and you’ll find many commonalities among the answers. They’ll praise her leadership in providing much of the district’s elementary music focus and helping other music teachers navigate the TPEP system. They’ll commend her teaching style, using lessons that spell out a learning target, materials and student practice, as well as include effects using technology. Most of all, they’ll tell you about her generosity: how she’s the first to host Professional Learning Communities, share resources and research and make treats for meetings. Without Stephanie, Vancouver Public Schools’ music education would surely B flat.
Public education prospers because of intrepid individuals like Stephanie Jakubek who are willing to work in the most complicated areas of it. Stephanie’s caseload includes English language learners, students with individualized education programs, credit-deficient seniors and others who face challenges both in and out of the classroom. Said one nominator, “On any given day, you can find her on the phone with parents, assuring them of the plan developed to help their student succeed. She isn’t afraid to have difficult conversations about accountability, expectations and students’ needs. … Stephanie makes you feel like the most important person in that moment.”
“Mr. Lindblom is a visionary who recognizes that each student is unique and, as such, houses various alternative teaching and learning programs on Lieser campus to meet the needs of students from diverse backgrounds,” wrote Steve’s nominator. In recent years, one of those programs, Vancouver Home Connection, has earned several awards, including a 2012 Washington Achievement Award for Overall Excellence, 2014 School of Distinction Award and 2013 Supported Students Award. Steve’s vision has been integral to this success and the success of many other Lieser programs. Added his nominator, “He is the type of leader who inspires and motivates through example.”
When your goal is to build positive rapport with school communities but your job requires you to move between locations, being an effective district resource officer is no easy task. However, it’s in this challenge that the DRO rovers thrive. Employees commend the rovers on enhancing safety in their schools while still finding time to talk to kids, listen to issues and generate solutions with professionalism and integrity. The rovers also support other DROs by filling in as needed and assisting, with minimum direction, on calls. The rovers are an asset to staff, students and Vancouver Public Schools.

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