March 2020 Excellence Award winners

The following employees were selected for the March 2020 Excellence Award recognition. They were honored at the March 10 school board meeting. Pictured from left:

  • Charolette Brown, paraeducator, Sacajawea Elementary
  • Dee Lassiter, secretary, Minnehaha Elementary
  • Katie Arkoosh, principal, Anderson Elementary
  • Zachary Griffith, teacher, Anderson Elementary
  • Warehouse team: Roger Anderson, Steve David and Mike Nicholson, delivery workers, with Mark Novak, crew leader
  • Not pictured: Greg Snyder, warehouse delivery worker

The Excellence Award is given to five 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.

The tragedy that happened at Anderson last November demonstrated the power of Katie’s leadership. However, she has displayed tremendous strength, grace and professionalism throughout her career and during her entire time at the helm of the school. She is a fearless advocate for all students and her staff. She connects with parents to better know her students. Her expectations and knowledge are great, but the care that she radiates toward everyone she encounters is even greater.

With a combined 140 years of experience, these pros made it look easy to move two entire schools at once, and then move another school over the winter break. In reality, this was a difficult feat that involved relocating classrooms, cleaning out portables, setting up furniture and receiving and distributing materials. All this work was done in addition to fulfilling more than 1,000 orders for pickups and dropoffs around the district. Through it all, this team maintained positive attitudes and a sense of humor.

Well loved by students and colleagues, Charolette is a creative, collaborative professional in the field of special education. She teaches students how to calm themselves down and self-regulate through breathing exercises and other techniques. She helps plan craft projects designed to teach fundamental skills. Charolette also collaborates with other educators to develop activities that build students’ linguistic abilities. Her colleagues say that they greatly value her contributions to their important work.
In just a few years, Zachary has made a positive impression on his students and their parents. In 2018 he was named the K103 Educator of the Week for his ability to connect with all his students and engage them in learning. Zachary’s enthusiasm for teaching continues to spread. Wrote his nominator, “My son comes home and is happy about school and can’t wait to go back. My son enjoys school and wants to be just like his teacher.”
In previous roles, Dee used technology to support attendance efforts by reaching out to families. In her current job, she also uses her tech-savviness to connect effectively with families and staff. And although she’s worked at Minnehaha for less than a year, Dee has had an incredible impact, says her nominator. “Dee fills our office with such positive joy. All day, Dee welcomes our Minnehaha community with open arms and with a smile on her face! She treats everyone like family.”

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