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Honoring 2017-18 Teachers of the Year
Honoring 2017-18 Teachers of the Year
Posted on 11/08/2017
Honoring 2017-18 Teachers of the Year

Congratulations to Puyallup School District 2017-18 Teachers of the Year:  Kathy Guimond, Hunt Elementary; Colleen Pancake, Rogers High; and Katie Ventura, Walker High.

They each received a surprise visit recently from Superintendent Yeomans when the announcement was made during a staff meeting at their school. Amid cheers and applause from their peers Dr. Yeomans highlighted why they deserved the honor and presented them with a certificate for professional development and a garden basket of plants.

Kathy Guimond

The Teacher of the Year award program is designed to recognize a professional classroom teacher who has made an outstanding contribution to the education of children. To be eligible for the nomination a teacher must be employed full-time in a certificated position, spend at least 50 percent of their time in a classroom setting with students, and hold a current teaching certificate.

On November 6, with family and staff in attendance, the Teachers of the Year were honored by the Puyallup School Board during its regularly scheduled meeting. Their school principal introduced them, described why they are so deserving of the recognition, and presented each with an engraved plaque.

Kathy Guimond, Hunt Elementary

Second grade teacher Kathy Guimond is described as the teacher students mention as their favorite teacher long after they have left her classroom. And that’s a lot of students — she has taught more than 1,000 children in the Puyallup School District.

Currently in her fortieth year as an educator in the Puyallup School District, she started at Wildwood Elementary in 1977 teaching pre-first and first grades. She spent the last 24 years at Hunt Elementary.

When asked what she enjoys most about teaching she said, “It’s the people — students, families, and staff. I also enjoy the creativity involved in setting up my classroom, planning and creating lessons, and delivering content in just the right way to reach each student.”

“She is as a teacher who will stop at nothing to ensure her students have what they need to be the best learner they can be. She makes a point of discovering what makes each child unique and special and then she uses that knowledge to create the perfect environment for succeeding through risk-taking and exploration. She designs lessons targeted to their needs.”
Hunt Principal Rebecca Williams

As a long-time coach and mentor to her peers, she serves as a district mentor teacher for second grade and her lessons have been recorded and shared across the district. “At the building level, there’s not a single teacher who hasn’t been influenced or encouraged by Kathy’s practices, suggestions, and input,” said Hunt Principal Rebecca Williams.

Guimond had high praise for her peers at Hunt, saying the staff make it a special place where they support one another personally and professionally. “At Hunt we live the character trait ‘grit.’ We teach our students to never give up. My students set goals and we strive and adjust until they meet those goals. We also expect kindness and respect from all.”

In her spare time, Guimond enjoys writing and is involved in a writing group with local authors. She also likes to scrapbook, hike, and spend time with her three grandchildren.

“I cherish the smiles and hugs I get every day, but I live for those moments when struggling students finally ‘get it’ — that confidence and excitement they display.” Kathy Guimond, second grade teacher, Hunt Elementary

Colleen Pancake, Rogers High School

Rogers High Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID) teacher Colleen Pancake is a natural leader who provides academic rigor for each of her students, yet is also there to provide social and emotional support.

Pancake has been a teacher in Puyallup for the past eight years — five years at Puyallup High where she taught English and the last three years at Rogers. She is also the Assistant Volleyball Coach at The Evergreen State College in Olympia.

“Colleen Pancake has an absolute passion for her work as an educator! She works with each student to help them realize their potential and future goals. She does everything in her power to even the playing field for her students who may not have the home support,” said Rogers Principal Jason Smith.

Colleen Pancake
As an AVID teacher, Pancake’s students loop with her for three years – meaning she has the same students from tenth through twelfth grade. She said spending three years with students allows her to see amazing growth, positive change, and successes.

“My kids inspire me so much. I am amazed at their strength and courage despite the roadblocks they face. These kids have the grit, drive, and determination to succeed despite any obstacles they face.”
Colleen Pancake, Rogers High AVID teacher

She is a proponent of using AVID strategies for all students. “I love being able to provide them with opportunities to visit college campuses and college fairs to help in their decision making process. It is truly like a family,” said Pancake. In the past three years, 100 percent of Pancake’s AVID students have been accepted to either a four-year university or two-year college upon graduating.

Pancake is known for her positive connections with staff members at Rogers. Under her leadership the staff created a building-wide program where students declare their post high school plans, and are greeted by representatives from their prospective universities, military representatives, as well as apprenticeship programs, according to Smith.

In her spare time she enjoys spending time with her family, coaching volleyball, traveling, and being outdoors.

“She simply doesn’t rest until she has reached every student and helped them realize their dreams. We always look forward to connecting with Colleen to hear of her latest student success story!”
Rogers Principal Jason Smith

Katie Ventura, Walker High School

As a Walker High math teacher Katie Ventura is an educator who is willing to go above and beyond to serve her students. She has an ability to connect with the most challenging students, understand their needs, and work to promote their success.

Katie Ventura
Walker Principal Alicia Nosworthy said “She is always willing to take on students with special circumstances and adapt as necessary to accommodate their needs no matter the workload that may mean for her."

Katie is a leader in creating and maintaining a positive school culture focused on solutions, students, and learning.
Walker High Principal Alicia Nosworthy

Ventura has been an educator for 12 years. She began her career in Nevada where she worked for five years before coming to Puyallup. She has spent the last seven years at Walker where she teaches Algebra II, Financial Literacy, MS Office, Math Lab, and Success Skills to grades 9-12.

One of the things she enjoys most about teaching is when students say they aren’t good at math, or don’t like it, then they start to learn and enjoy it.

“Working with students at Walker has been the most challenging but most rewarding thing I could have chosen to do. Having students who have struggled with math their whole school career finally get it is an amazing feeling.”
Katie Ventura, Walker High School

Ventura is known for her willingness to take on a variety of leadership roles at the building, district, and state levels. She has taken on a leadership role with math colleagues across the district. “Katie has served as a mentor for numerous new teachers and continues to be a go-to person for her peers. She always maintains a positive attitude and is able to get even the most reluctant educator involved,” said Nosworthy.

Ventura said she specifically enjoys the environment at Walker because it feels like a family environment for both staff and students. When she is not teaching, she enjoys being with her husband and three year old daughter, and she enjoys painting and drawing.

“A lot of our kids need more than an education, they need support and love from caring adults. We can provide that and building relationships with students is a major thing in our school.”
Walker teacher Katie Ventura

Nancy French