5.13.15: Brouillet paraeducator wins state education support award
5.13.15: Brouillet paraeducator wins state education support award
Posted on 05/13/2015

Brouillet Elementary School resource paraeducator Jan Olmstead, who has worked the past 27 years in this school district, has been named the Washington Education Association (WEA) Education Support Professional of the Year.

 

Olmstead was surprised with the news at an impromptu staff meeting last month in the school library.

 

Guests at the surprise announcement included Superintendent Tim Yeomans, as well as representatives from the WEA, Puyallup Education Association (PEA), and Puyallup Education Support Professionals Association (PESPA).

 

“We are so proud of you,” Yeomans said. “Thank you for your service to our students.”

 

Les Allred, chair of the Education Support Professional of the Year award selection committee, described Olmstead as a hard worker whose nominations make it clear “she loves the children she works with.”

 

Allred also praised the value of education support professionals in general.

 

“It’s incredible what education support professionals do in the schools,” he said. “Teaching can’t go on without the support they give each and every one of the kids.”

 

A small group of Brouillet Elementary students also attended Olmstead’s award announcement, shouted “surprise” when she walked through the door, and crowded around her as she looked through a binder filled with student letters of thanks and congratulations.

 

The student writings, including many decorated with hearts and flowers, thank her for her help in teaching them to read and succeed in school.

 

While some of the letters fill a full page, others are a few sentences or, in some cases, a few words that speak volumes to Olmstead’s character.

 

Fifth grader Kaylee Wright, for example, simply said, “Thank you for being there for me.”

 

In her nomination letter, Brouillet Elementary Principal Nancy Strobel describes Olmstead as “extraordinarily positive and professional in all of her interactions with students, staff, and families.”

 

Strobel added, “She is committed to learning and growing as a professional. This high level of professionalism not only benefits our students, it raises the regard for the profession as a whole. Jan exemplifies a strong, positive paraeducator and leads by example every day.”

 

Olmstead said she has worked with every grade level of students during her 27 years in Puyallup and has spent her entire career working with students with special needs.

 

In addition to Brouillet Elementary, Olmstead has been a resource paraeducator at Ballou and Aylen junior high schools, as well as Northwood, Maplewood, and Spinning elementary schools.

 

“I constantly tell my special education students that they can be anything they want to be and that they need to believe in themselves every day,” she said.

 

In addition to her work duties, Olmstead serves as president of PESPA — a role she has held for the past eight years.

 

She also chairs the WEA Action Coordinating Team, is vice president of the Summit UniServ Council, is a WEA board member, and has served on various WEA and council committees.

 

 In a letter nominating Olmstead for the award, PEA President Karen McNamara wrote, “Hard-working, articulate, dedicated, quiet, integrity — all of these adjectives come to mind when I think of Jan.”

  

McNamara continued, “She is highly respected in Puyallup by students, paras, certificated staff, and administration alike.”

See more photos of Jan Olmstead’s surprise award announcement.