From left: Emily Jinnah, Elizabeth Tiegs, Tawnya Clark, Michael Hornback and Bill Niemeyer

The following employees were selected for the November 2019 Excellence Award recognition. They were honored at the Nov. 12 school board meeting. Pictured from left:

  • Emily Jinnah, elementary academic coach, Fir Grove
  • Elizabeth Tiegs, family-community resource coordinator, Roosevelt Elementary
  • Tawnya Clark, paraeducator, Fir Grove
  • Michael Hornback, instructional technology facilitator, ITS
  • Bill Niemeyer, data integration technician, assessment and performance management department

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.

Developing creative solutions is one of Tawnya’s many strengths. She regularly comes up with innovative ideas to engage Fir Grove’s youngest learners, helping them find ways to communicate their feelings through words rather than behavior alone. She patiently teaches and reteaches self-regulation lessons to help her students express themselves. Said her nominator, “Tawnya is a favorite among the students and staff, because she is genuine and real, providing some of the best support for students in the state of Washington.”
He’s a graduate of Columbia River High School, a Navy veteran and a leader in the district’s one-to-one technology movement. Michael is instrumental in helping both teachers and students use their digital devices to deepen their thinking and learning. He also makes it fun. When first-graders were assigned reports on animals, Michael used green screen technology so that students appeared to be delivering their research from their subjects’ natural habitats. Staff members, students and families appreciate his thoughtful approach.
Emily provides teachers and paraeducators with academic support and strategies to help Fir Grove students be successful. She leads classes when needed and is talented at supporting a range of student behaviors. Emily revamped the school’s library, selecting fun, engaging books to spark a love of reading. Her contributions also include reading daily announcements with a unique flair and sense of humor. Her colleagues appreciate the positive, solutions-oriented and student-focused approach she brings every day.

In just a few years, Bill has distinguished himself as the go-to person for a variety of applications. For example, his work to better integrate the student information system with the district’s mass notification system has expanded schools’ ability to communicate with families. Said one of his nominators, “Bill has a strong work ethic and a can-do attitude. He is the kind of employee we need to make the work that we do help our students succeed.”

Elizabeth’s co-workers praise her professionalism and compassion. By cultivating community partnerships, she helps families meet basic needs, including food and clothing, that might otherwise pose barriers to learning. By proactively reaching out to parents and guardians from a variety of cultures, she empowers families, which in turn makes them active partners in their children’s education. Her work has gone a long way toward strengthening the school culture. Elizabeth helps everyone feel welcome and integral to the Roosevelt community.

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