The following employees were selected to receive November 2021 Employee Excellence Awards and recognition at the Nov. 9 school board meeting. The recipients will be recognized via Zoom.

  • Jesse Affeldt, teacher, Ogden Elementary
  • Nicole Daltoso, AJ Panter and Lindsay Rogers, planning department and facility support service center
  • Lauren Merlin, teacher, Anderson Elementary
  • Natalie Pattison, teacher, Walnut Grove Elementary
  • Suzy Zumstein, custodial assistant, King Elementary

The Excellence Award is given to five employees and/or small teams from October to June each school year. Nominations are open to staff, students, parents and community members. Nominees are selected for recognition by a committee of their peers.

Jesse Affeldt, teacher, Ogden Elementary

Jesse AffeldtThroughout the pandemic, Jesse has demonstrated compassion and sensitivity toward his students by actively listening to and meeting the needs of each child. From teaching a growth mindset to leading breathing exercises, he empowers students to bring their best selves to class. Jesse also is known for navigating complex topics with grace and answering students’ questions with honesty and respect. Meanwhile, parents and guardians appreciate his strong communication skills. He partners with families to work toward positive outcomes for all of his students.

Nicole Daltoso, facilities planning manager, planning department
AJ Panter, executive director of facilities support services, planning department
Lindsay Rogers, environmental safety coordinator, facility support service center

November 2021 Employee Excellence Award recipients Lindsay Rogers, Nicole Daltoso and AJ PanterFrom overseeing the construction of new schools and bond projects to monitoring for environmental hazards, Nicole, AJ and Lindsay work hard to provide safe spaces for students, staff members and the community. In 2020, they took on another responsibility: COVID-19 response. Since then they have immersed themselves in all facets of prevention and mitigation. They translate complex guidance into plans and actions that are guiding the district through the ever-evolving pandemic. No matter what COVID challenge VPS faces, these three leaders are ready to tackle it!

Lauren Merlin, teacher, Anderson Elementary

Lauren Merlin, November 2021 Excellence Award recipientHer ability to bond with her class and instill a love of learning have earned Lauren rave reviews from both students and parents. Said her nominator, “She is extremely organized and intentional about reaching each of her students and making them feel special.” This includes everything from checking in with them individually to making time for fun during brain breaks. Laughter is a common sound in Lauren’s classroom. Parents of her student also speak highly of her work ethic, attitude and helpful demeanor. She makes families feel special, too!

Natalie Pattison, teacher, Walnut Grove Elementary

Natalie PattisonOne of the most evident things about Natalie’s teaching is how very much she cares for her students. She speaks with a gentle kindness and is excited to hear what her students have to say. Through her skill for understanding her students, she affects them both academically and personally. Parents are grateful for her presence in their children’s lives. Said her nominator, “She has touched all of our lives in my household with her radiant kindness.”

Suzy Zumstein, custodial assistant, King Elementary

Suzy Zumstein, November 2021 Excellence Award recipientTaking care of one building is a considerable challenge. Taking care of two? Formidable. Yet that’s exactly what Suzy did while the new King Elementary was wrapping up construction and students and staff attended school at the former Ogden Elementary. Once the new King was ready for move-in, Suzy’s support eased the complex transition between buildings and left the temporary location sparkling. Thanks to her willingness to help others, the new building quickly became home for everyone, and continues to be a welcoming space for students and staff.

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