Four employees were selected for the May 2014 recognition. They were honored at the May 27 school board meeting. Pictured left to right are:

  • RoseMary Marek, literacy specialist, Hazel Dell Elementary School
  • Bekah Raymond, teacher, Minnehaha Elementary School
  • April Greenwood, speech language pathologist, Peter S. Ogden Elementary School and Early Childhood Evaluation Center
  • Not pictured: Juanita Yasu, program site specialist, special services department

The Excellence Award is given to two to four employees 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 Hazel Dell Elementary staff has long relied on a humble colleague. Paraprofessionals look to her for guidance. Teachers praise her knowledge of literacy and often seek her opinion on matters of professional practice. Said one colleague, “I have become better at what I do because of her.” Added another, “She is one of the most highly trained teachers I’ve worked with in my 24 years with the district.” The children of Hazel Dell flourish under her instruction, floating up to meet the mark she sets high. But now the truth is out—RoseMary Marek is Hazel Dell’s secret weapon!
Creativity radiates from Bekah Raymond’s teaching. She encourages her students to apply what they’ve studied and infuse their individuality into projects involving poetry, art and re-enactments of historical events. Every lesson is an engaging experience. Moreover, Bekah establishes a community that helps her students experiment, gain confidence and learn respect. Every fifth-grader lucky enough to be placed in her class has a chance to invest deeply in their learning. And it’s not just her students who benefit. Wrote one parent, “I am truly grateful to Ms. Raymond for positively influencing my daughter and serving as a healthy role model.”
April has made it her mission to serve the students, families and staff members at Ogden and the Early Childhood Evaluation Center. She works closely with teachers and students to address communication disorders and provides additional support to those who need it most. Her evaluation reports and Individual Education Programs are always comprehensive yet accessible to parents. In addition, she strives to enhance staff knowledge of speech and language development and shares helpful information—that is, when she’s not leading Professional Learning Communities or working on a district speech-language pathology manual. April is a gifted leader and colleague.
Navigating the education system can be difficult for the more than 4,500 Vancouver Public Schools students whose home language isn’t English. But speakers of Chuukese, a Micronesian language, have an ally: Juanita Yasu. From translated documents to phone calls and home visits, Juanita does whatever it takes to increase effective communication. Ever mindful of respecting the Chuukese culture, she tacitly conveys a desire to provide a quality education for all learners. As a result of her efforts to increase family engagement, more Chuukese-speaking families have become involved in school and district activities. Juanita is a cheerful cultural ambassador with rare talents.

Congratulations to these staff members! They join the more than 250 VPS employees who have received Excellence Awards since 2007.