Each year, the Highline Schools Foundation solicits nominations from community members, district employees and parents for its prestigious and much-anticipated Gold Star Awards.

This year’s list of impressive nominees includes well-deserving teachers, staff, administrators and volunteers.

The Foundation received a record number of nominations – having received 123 this year.

“Highline Schools Foundation congratulates them all!”

“We normally announce our winners at the Gold Star BASH which was scheduled to be held last evening. However, with recommendations from the Public Health Department, we cancelled the BASH announced the winners during a Facebook Live event,” said Anne Baunach, Executive Director, Highline Schools Foundation. “While we couldn’t celebrate in person, we are so excited to recognize there individuals. We look forward to celebrating them in person at the Gold Star Fundraising Breakfast on April 17, 2020.

The 2020 Gold Star Award Winners Are…

The Outstanding Administrator award recognizes an individual who demonstrates exemplary work performance, outstanding leadership abilities, cooperative spirit, and a positive impact on students who has established an extraordinary record of contributions to supporting Highline Public Schools.

Kym Nelson

Her nominator says:

“Kym has transformed Valley View into a high-quality preschool that parents want to send their children to and feel invested in, a positive and rewarding work environment for staff, and a model site in our region for this work. Kym is a tireless advocate for preschool at the district level. She has worked with central office staff and other principals to make Highline a P-12 system. When Kym arrived, Valley View was a site that housed preschool. Through her work, Valley View is now a school, with a principal, which is aligned with the rest of the school district with an Annual action plan that focuses on kindergarten readiness.”

The Outstanding Rookie Teacher award recognizes a teacher in Highline Public Schools with three years or less of total teaching experience in Highline or any other district, and who demonstrates outstanding abilities in their field early in their career.

Alejandra Rodas-Vasco

Alejandra’s nominators shared:

“Alejandra creates differentiated plans in her classroom that are seamless and hardly noticeable yet creates the optimal experience for students. Alejandra is deeply involved in our work to improve our school’s multi-tiered system of support to guarantee that each student at our school grows one year each year. Alejandra recognizes that to continue to grow you must support yourself. As a result, she is eager to receive feedback, and to drive her own learning and development.”

The Outstanding Classified Staff Member award recognizes an individual who has established an extraordinary record of work performance, outstanding service to Highline Public Schools, and special achievements or contribution to the district.

Jeremy Praven

Jeremy’s nominator shared, ““He is the Heart and Soul of Pacific. While finding a superstar isn’t easy, somehow Pacific has Jeremy. Officer Praven provides enthusiastic support for our entire team. He is an intelligent sounding board for all our thinking. Officer Praven is tasked with breaking up fights, viewing videos and security monitors, watching for strangers or suspicious activity, all while creating an environment where everyone is welcome and safe.”

The Outstanding Professional Staff Member award recognizes an individual who has established an extraordinary record of work performance, outstanding service to Highline Public Schools, and special achievements or contribution to the district.

Dottie Handley-More

Dottie’s nominators shared:

“She is the consummate professional. Dottie recently received a long-deserved designation as Fellow to our national organization, the American Occupational Therapy Organization. Dottie could “rest on her laurels” knowing how much she has contributed year after year, making an enormous difference statewide and nationally, as well as in our district. Instead she is as ever, humble, gracious and incredibly generous with her time, knowledge and support, to students, school teams, the Occupational Therapy/Physical Therapy department, the special education department, and district wide through her advocacy role for technology supports for those with special needs.”

The Outstanding Volunteer award recognizes the amazing work that is being done in the district by parents, grandparents, friends, and community members. We could not accomplish what we are doing in each of our schools without our amazing volunteers.

Jennifer Manchester

Jennifer’s nominator describes her as:

“One of the most loyal dedicated volunteers I have ever had the privilege of working with. Jen is constantly thinking about access and equity. Before I even have a chance to push the PTSA’s thinking on equity issues, Jen has already considered who may be marginalized by an event and is working to mitigate any access issues. She is passionate about ensuring all students and families know and believe that they are welcome at Marvista and critical, valuable members of the community.”

The Outstanding Alumni award recognizes a graduate of one of Highline Public School’s high schools that has gone on to distinguish themselves in their careers or in their public service.

Dan Houae

Dan is a parent, the husband of a teacher at Pacific Middle School, Claudia House, and an amazing graduate of Mount Rainier High School.

While Dan does a great deal for the whole community, he has especially been generous to Highline Public Schools and Highline Schools Foundation. Let me share a few of the things that he does – very quietly – and without very little recognition.

Dan has been a significant sponsor of Highline Schools Foundation events – allowing the Foundation to raise hundreds of thousands of dollars at these events. This includes being the title sponsor of Burien Brat Trot as well as the provider of all the food at Oktoberfest each year.

Dan started the TinShip scholarship in 2016. He has now provided funds so that five students could attend a trade school for careers in mechanics, building, machinery or craftsmanship.

In 2018, Dan was the recipient of a Key Bank Small Business is Key contest. His $20,000 award was donated to the Foundation to begin a fund to provide Sylvester with a new athletic field. He is now working with the district and the foundation on a plan to raise the rest of the funds necessary for this to happen.

The Outstanding Teacher award recognizes an individual who demonstrates exemplary work performance, outstanding teaching abilities, and a positive impact on students. The Outstanding Teacher will not only be recognized by the Highline Schools Foundation but will be submitted to the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction Regional Teacher of the Year competition.

Joseph Boyer

Joe’s nominator shares:

“Joe Boyer has been an outstanding teacher since he first started at Evergreen. Not only is his instructional ability, understanding and his influence on student learning far superior, he also commits tirelessly to the support and betterment of his colleagues through being a part time instructional coach, department chair that works collaborative with district support staff, and National Board facilitator on the Evergreen campus. Joe leverages his relationships with students to not only push for excellence but also helps students find their passion and goals for life so that students have choices for higher education. Joe Boyer truly embodies the Highline Promise.”

Congratulations to all the winners of Highline Schools Foundation’s Gold Star awards.

The public is invited to join us at the Gold Star Fundraising breakfast to celebrate all of the winners.

Tickets are available at https://interland3.donorperfect.net/weblink/WebLink.aspx?name=E347251&id=40.

Here’s raw video of the Gold Star Award Winners being announced, courtesy our friends at the Seattle Southside Chamber of Commerce:

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