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School Board honors staff for excellence
School Board honors staff for excellence
Posted on 02/19/2020
NBCT 2020

Highlights of the February 18, 2020 PSD School Board meeting

The meeting began with recognition of several staff members whose work exemplifies the school district’s “Tradition of Excellence.” Director of Instructional Leadership for Career and Technical Education (CTE) Maija Thiel introduced the 2020 CTE Teacher of the Year Janet Jepsen.

Four years ago, Janet Jepsen transitioned from her role as school nurse to that of a CTE teacher at Rogers High School. “She immediately transferred her great care and concern for students in our health room to that of the learning and achievement of students in her health careers classroom,” said Thiel. “Janet has applied her warmth, compassion, and skill to support students with diverse experiences and needs to meet rigorous expectations.”

Next, Chief Communications and Arts Officer Brian Fox introduced three classified employees who represent excellence in their work in support of student learning. “Each year,” said Fox, “our district celebrates the hard work and dedication of classified employees and selects examples of those demonstrating outstanding effort and achievement.” Fox then presented the 2020 Classified Employees of the Year:

  • Lisa Martin from Emerald Ridge High School

  • Rhonda Knudson from Human Resources

  • Carla Tyree from Maplewood Elementary

Supervisors were then asked to share some thoughts about each of the winners of this award. Emerald Ridge High School Principal Richard Lasso shared that Lisa Martin’s greatest attribute is her relentless commitment to collective responsibility. “When she’s not in the lab, you can find her serving on the site council, running the vegan and animal rights awareness club, assisting the speech and debate team, or supporting her colleagues as one of the building reps. In everything that she does, Lisa epitomizes the notion of being a team player and a committed educator, and for that we should all be thankful that Miss Martin is a part of the Puyallup School District.”

Rhonda Knudson is a specialist in our Human Resources Department. “Rhonda approaches everything she does with a servant’s heart,” said Director of Human Resources, Staffing, and School Support Ailene Baxter. “She’s approachable, she’s engaging, and she’s enthusiastic about helping others begin a new pathway in public education, and she gets so excited when they’re finally hired – sometimes she’s cries.”

Finally, Maplewood Principal Susan Walton shared thoughts about Office Manager Carla Tyree. “When students come to the office for help, Carla treats them with respect and dignity. She recognizes that as children they are looking at, and listening to the adults, and they take their cures from us. Carla is a role model for our kids and they find her to be a calming and supportive presence.”

Directors thanked each winner personally with a hand shake, presented a plaque, and posed for pictures.

Next, directors honored several Puyallup educators for their effort and accomplishment in the National Board Certification program. “One of the highest recognitions in the education profession is National Board Certification,” said Fox. “Tonight we honor four certificated staff members who have successfully completed a rigorous professional certification process and are deserving of title ‘National Board Certified.’”

Fox then presented the 2020 National Board Certification completers:

  • Kathryn Alexander from Dessie Evans Elementary

  • Anastasia Church from Walker High School

  • Jacob Johnson from Ferrucci Junior High

  • Cassandra Zancanella from Firgrove Elementary

Next, directors were presented with a special recognition of Rogers High School. “Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID) is a program of which we are quite proud in Puyallup,” said Fox. “AVID changes lives by helping schools shift to a more equitable, student-centered approach. Each year, more Puyallup teachers are trained in AVID strategies which help to close the opportunity gap so they can prepare all students for college, careers, and life.”

“While AVID is present in all schools across the district, there are a few schools which have risen to a high level of accomplishment. In years past, we have celebrated with Woodland Elementary and Karshner Elementary for earning the title of AVID School of Distinction. Staff and students at each school continue to work hard with outstanding results. Tonight we celebrate a third school in our district to have earned this title, Rogers High School.”

Rogers High School Principal Jason Smith then addressed directors. “It is with a tremendous amount of hard work from our staff and support from our district that RHS was awarded the prestigious title of being an ‘AVID school of distinction,” said Smith. “We are one of four high schools in the state to earn this award.”

Smith then highlighted individual staff members:

  • Dr. Cassie Mueller, whose dissertation featured the AVID strategies and it was found that AVID students were quite successful on school tests and in life beyond high school as a direct result of the AVID experience.

  • Valerie Waring, AVID tutor

  • Jeet Brar, AVID tutor

  • Jeriko Iese, AVID tutor

  • Lori Tierney, RHS counselor

  • Colleen Pancake, AVID teacher

Board Policy Updates – Directors were presented with the second reading of school board policies which have been revised due to legislative changes, suggestions by the Washington State School Directors Association (WSSDA), or to implement district efficiencies and effective use of available resources.

Assistant Superintendent Casey Cox provided directors with a review of the changes being recommended.

Policy 3207 - Prohibition of Harassment, Intimidation and Bullying

Policy 3211 - Gender-Inclusive Schools

Directors unanimously approved the policy updates as recommended.

Action: Executive Administration – School Board President Kathy Yang presented recommendations for the 2020-21 school year, stating the schedule will, “Remain consistent with past practice.”

Board meetings are held twice per month and generally on the first and third Mondays of the month, with the exception of April, July and December, during which there will be one meeting only, to be held as scheduled. 

Work sessions are also tentatively scheduled for:

  • Friday, September 25, 2020, 9 to 11 am; Education Service Center

  • Friday, January 22, 2021, 9 to 11 am; Education Service Center

  • Friday, March 19, 2021, 9 to 11 am; Education Service Center

  • Friday, April 23, 2021, 9 to 11 am; Education Service Center

  • Friday, May 21, 2021, 9 to 11 am; Education Service Center

The board also meets for a full day work session each year at the annual November WSSDA conference.  

Directors unanimously approved the board meeting schedule as presented.

Human Resources Report – The Human Resources report approved by the school board can be found on the HR website.

Upcoming meeting – The next regularly scheduled meeting of the Puyallup School District Board of Directors will be at 6 p.m. on Monday, March 2, 2020, at Ballou Junior High, 9916 – 136th Street East, Puyallup, WA 98373. To see a calendar of all board meetings click here.