Calvin Winz, Juan Mendoza, Rachael Honsinger, Jami Phelps and Tami Ammerman

The following employees were selected for the May 2018 Excellence Award recognition. They were honored at the May 22 school board meeting. Pictured from left to right are:

  • Calvin Winz, paraeducator, Anderson Elementary
  • Juan Mendoza, teacher, Harney Elementary
  • Rachael Honsinger, teacher, Ogden Elementary
  • Jami Phelps, teacher mentor, human resources
  • Tami Ammerman, mental health specialist, Fir Grove/Vista

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.

Even the most timid person will soon open up to Tami. She radiates kindness and patience, especially when working with children. This approach is reinforced by her expertise in mental health, which she often shares with families and her co-workers. Tami also uses her extensive knowledge of community resources to supplement the district’s mobile Family-Community Resource Center and connect families with sources of support in the community. Everyone says that Tami is fundamental to Fir Grove!
Rachael has a special talent for working with children with special needs. By collaborating with specialists to implement strategies, she helps students manage their needs and direct their energy positively. Students thrive under her guidance and improve both their social and academic skills. Said one parent of a student with special needs, “The thing that we wish most is that their teacher can achieve success in helping our kids.” With tremendous care, Rachael does just that.
According to his nominator, Juan personifies the values of respect, responsibility and safety both within and outside of the classroom. He uses his influence to inspire students to work harder and take positive new risks, such as attempting and succeeding at scoring a goal in a championship game. Those lessons will last well beyond elementary school. Good educators help students become better learners. Great educators, like Juan, help students become better people.

Special education teachers—both novices and veterans—have a powerful ally in Jami. She provides individualized and comprehensive support, from observations to one-on-one guidance in designing lessons, assessing students, planning and analyzing data. Her work has even received attention from the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction. Said one of her mentees, “Jami has helped me tremendously throughout my first year teaching special education. … She truly is amazing and has had a significant impact on my life.”

Does Calvin possess some kind of magic dust that makes him an exceptional educator? Last December, the school hosted a candy cane compliment fundraiser. Calvin and his family bought compliments for all 800 Anderson students. As a special education paraeducator, he empowers students to make social and academic gains such as eating hot lunches at school, taking state tests and learning in a general education classroom setting. With awe, his co-workers have nicknamed him the “Child Whisperer.”

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