Hough, special services, Washington, VSAA

Four employees were selected for the January 2017 Excellence Award recognition. They were honored at the Jan. 24 school board meeting. Pictured above from left to right are:

  • Steve Vance, principal, Hough Elementary
  • Tiffany Frahm, teacher, Washington Elementary
  • Donna Sillars, custodian, Vancouver School of Arts and Academics
  • Becky Baker, clerk, special services department

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.

All that is great in VPS is embodied in Becky’s work ethic and humble, smart attitude, says one of her nominators. Need an organizer for a special work event? Ask Becky. Want to book a seat at a popular training session for educators all over the ESD 112 region? She is on it, setting her alarm to wake up early to ensure she’s ready as soon as registration opens. Not only is she responsive, she’s also gifted in her ability to anticipate needs and meet them even before being asked. Her co-workers say they’re fortunate to work with her every day.

When one of her students was diagnosed with cancer last spring, Tiffany spent a significant amount of time supporting the family throughout the summer and this school year. As a volunteer on Washington’s Walking School Bus, she makes a point to stop by the home of another student to ensure that the child gets to school on time. Tiffany also is the school’s social coordinator, co-chair of the leadership team and an adviser in the development of a new report card—all without seeking any recognition for herself. Tiffany may avoid the spotlight, but her kindness shines a caring light on everyone she meets.

Donna’s reputation has reached mythic proportions. One of the many stories people tell is the time she went through the garbage, unbidden, to find a volunteer’s diamond ring. Another favorite: when she herded away a real, live turkey that had wandered into the courtyard and was harassing students. She’s also known for instilling in students the importance of balancing their schoolwork with extracurricular activities. Donna is a problem-solver, and her influence is widespread. Said a nominator, “Donna has deep and inspiring integrity. She shares her beliefs and helps shape quality decision-making for the entire VSAA community, especially its students.”

By name and need are how Steve knows the students of Hough. This willingness to learn about others and invest in positive working relationships with children, families and staff members has paid dividends to the school’s overall culture. For this reason, he’s known as a humble, hard worker. A talented communicator and collaborator. Fierce in the face of challenges. Said one nominator, “Steve is one of the most positive leaders I have ever encountered.” Added another, “In all my years, he has never wavered with his intent to do what is best for any and all children.”

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