Four employees were selected for the October 2015 recognition. They were honored at the Oct. 27 school board meeting. Pictured from left to right are:

  • Barb Edwards, school psychologist, Columbia River High School
  • Kelly Mainka, literacy facilitator, Washington Elementary School
  • Staci Boehlke, FCRC coordinator, Fruit Valley Community Learning Center
  • Diana Avalos-Leos, family-community engagement coordinator, Fort Vancouver High School

The Excellence Award is given to two to four 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.

In the words of a Fort student, “Miss Diana will do whatever she needs to do to help us realize our dreams. She pulls in people from the community and connects us to positive role models. We know that if Miss Diana is helping us, our project will be successful.” It’s a sentiment echoed by her colleagues, who say she’s inspired them to higher levels of advocacy for their students. Whether she’s helping students develop a mural representing diversity or creating new opportunities for them to become leaders, to name just a few things that she does, Diana is an unstoppable force for good.
There’s no doubt about Staci’s commitment to Fruit Valley. You can see it in the way that she runs the monthly Clothes Closet. It’s on display when she is available after hours for families who need assistance with food, health issues and crises. And when she hosts preschool and parent groups. Or when she helps set up, tear down and prepare food for PTO and school events and brings in coffee during Staff Appreciation Week. But perhaps the greatest evidence, among myriad examples, is how students seek out Staci because of her caring attitude and ability to accomplish difficult things!
Barb’s nominators praise her work style as “warm,” “forward thinking” and “collaborative.” Despite managing a host of sensitive issues, she is an expert at maintaining calm while addressing student needs and helping families. “She looks to what the child needs now and what they may need in the future,” said one nominator. Barb also understands that positive working relationships with other staff members and a strong professional network of counselors are essential to planning how best to support students. Because she is highly skilled at what she does, Barb is a wonderful mentor for school psychologists who are new to VPS.
With a background teaching kindergarten, Kelly was a natural fit for the literacy facilitator and site assessment coordinator roles. She’s exceeded expectations as she has helped the staff transition into a new reading curriculum, worked to improve instructional quality and advocated for students on testing issues. Kelly also oversees English language arts supports and has been known to spend her own time studying new resources into order to improve her work. But it’s not only knowledge that she facilitates. Kelly is a talented chef who often prepares food for staff events. For all these reasons and more, her colleagues say they’re grateful for her!

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