2019 Promise Award Recipients Celebrated – Bellingham Public Schools

Left to right: Superintendent Greg Baker, Promise Award recipient Marnie Keller, Principal Meagan Dawson and Assistant Principal Kevin Terpstra.

A Message from Communications and Group Relations

Bellingham Public Schools lately stunned our 2019 Promise Award recipients and are happy to announce the honorees from our faculties. The Promise Awards program recognizes the exemplary achievements and contributions of employees and volunteers related to The Bellingham Promise, our district’s strategic plan. The Promise Awards are supported by the Bellingham Public Schools Foundation. You possibly can view pictures of our Promise Award occasions right here.

Above and Beyond Service Award

Marnie Keller, paraeducator, Kulshan Center Faculty


Left to right: Superintendent Greg Baker, Promise Award recipient Marnie Keller, Principal Meagan Dawson and Assistant Principal Kevin Terpstra.Left to right: Superintendent Greg Baker, Promise Award recipient Marnie Keller, Principal Meagan Dawson and Assistant Principal Kevin Terpstra.

Marnie Keller is a lunch and recess supervisor as well as a special schooling paraeducator, but colleagues say her actual job is displaying youngsters how much they are beloved. Marnie provides her coronary heart and soul to the scholars of Kulshan. She attends many faculty events including sporting events, dances, musical performances, educational shows and extra. She is there to help and cheer on the Kulshan students. Marnie does her job day by day with a smile on her face, then goes out and does much more. She stays late to ensure college students aren’t waiting out in the chilly for rides, she tracks down house owners of lost planners and brings in slightly used clothing for college kids who would in any other case go without. Contained in the classroom, Marnie is devoted to scholar success, serving to students keep on monitor with classwork or modifying supplies to raised match their wants. Colleagues say they “have never met anyone who does their job with more care, compassion, dedication and a positive attitude.” Eighth graders have been recognized to say, “I’m not going to high school because I don’t want to leave Ms. Keller.” She really represents every thing that’s great about Kulshan. She makes it greater than a faculty – she makes it a group.

Above and Beyond Service Award Honorable Mentions:

Brenda Apt, paraeducator, Sehome High Faculty: “Brenda has helped staff to find ways to better support and engage a diverse learning community. She has helped students learn how to advocate for themselves and to hold themselves to high standards for learning and achievement. She has helped provide a safe place for students to set and follow through with these goals in the after-school Learning Center. She goes above and beyond daily to ensure that our students, all of our students have the best outcomes possible for a productive and successful life.”

Nicole Charlton, custodian, Wade King Elementary Faculty: “Nicole is gentle and supportive. Students and staff alike are easily drawn to her calming presence. She supports school-wide expectations while showing respect and love to all students. She happily assists where needed, never complaining and is always happy to help well outside her job expectations. Nicole exemplifies the team approach, being available wherever she is needed. Nicole loves our school family; and our school family loves Nicole.”


Collaboration Award

Laura Murdzia, secretary to the principal and Kristin Cerenzia, office assistant at Pleased Valley Elementary Faculty

Back row left to right: Promise Award recipient Laura Murdzia, Promise Award recipient Kristin Cerenzia, Superintendent Greg Baker and Principal Nick Hayes. Front row: Happy Valley Elementary School students.Back row left to right: Promise Award recipient Laura Murdzia, Promise Award recipient Kristin Cerenzia, Superintendent Greg Baker and Principal Nick Hayes. Entrance row: Completely satisfied Valley Elementary Faculty college students.

Laura Murdzia and Kristina Cerenzia are the entrance workplace workforce at Pleased Valley. They are in their first yr working collectively. This yr they each began on the primary day of faculty, taking up the workplace from a staff that had been in place for a few years. For each of them, this required excessive degrees of flexibility as they managed one of the crucial difficult weeks of the varsity yr on prime of getting up-to-speed with new techniques, a employees they didn’t know, and a principal who was additionally new to the varsity. Via this time, their calm demeanor and fixed composure in a short time gained over the employees, households, and college students of Joyful Valley. Half approach into the yr, they’ve already revamped previous techniques, streamlined many processes and operate as a high-functioning workforce. Each interaction matters to these two. They are deeply related to the core mission of teaching our college students. They treat each visitor to the workplace with compassion and model by way of their actions what integrity and respect seem like. Whether or not serving to a scholar who is just not feeling properly, supporting a father or mother, or making certain our educating employees has the assets they need, they are all the time patient, loving and respectful.

Collaboration Award Honorable Mentions: 

Birchwood Elementary Faculty Employees: “Words don’t do my feelings about Birchwood justice. In short, witnessing their utter commitment to diversity celebration, problem-solving, and community building has rekindled my belief in the public schools. Talking to Birchwood neighbors, community volunteers, educators, and especially Birchwood students, I know I’m not alone feeling such pride and hope when I see staff members greet each and every child with love and respect and sheer appreciation for their individuality.”

District Early Childhood Staff (Kristi Dominguez, Kris Newberry, Debbie Haney, Barbara DelWraa and Nina Ballew): “Their selfless actions clearly demonstrate the tenets of The Bellingham Promise; in particular: together we achieve more than alone and compassion and service build community. They have extended their service to early learners and fellow educators beyond the confines of Bellingham Public Schools.”


Compassion and Service Award

Dianna McCandless, meals service lead, Geneva Elementary Faculty

Left to right: Superintendent Greg Baker, Promise Award recipient Dianna McCandles and Executive Chef Patrick Durgan.Left to proper: Superintendent Greg Baker, Promise Award recipient Dianna McCandless and Government Chef Patrick Durgan.

Dianna is the meals service lead at Geneva and she or he goes far past her job duties to point out students and employees they’re liked. Dianna is understood for all the time greeting you with a smile. She makes it a priority to look out for the well-being of Geneva students and employees. She is quick to notice modifications in students—typically very delicate, but she sees and knows when they could want a bit of additional assist. The relationships she develops with students creates a protected setting to allow them to ask for what they need. Apart from serving college students in exceptional methods, she additionally cares for the employees. She is all the time showering Geneva employees with little presents, sorts words or hugs. Geneva employees really feel really cared for. Colleagues say: “To put into words all Dianna provides to the Geneva community, its students, and the district, would be truly impossible. She loves each child as if they were her own and personally takes it upon herself to care for them unconditionally. Her compassion is an example of what it means to love the students that come to our school every day.”

Compassion and Service Award Honorable Mentions: 

Trisha Miller, paraeducator, Shuksan Center Faculty: “Trisha always maintains her poise and positive attitude. She inspires students to work and lets them know that she deeply cares about them through tough love. Students continually come back to Shuksan to visit Trisha from high school, letting her know that they are now succeeding. She always responds with a high level of pride, affirming that she is genuinely invested in their lives.”

Aramis Johnson, counselor, Squalicum High Faculty: “Aramis has the rare combination of knowledge, integrity, selflessness, empathy and courage. I stand stronger today as an adult because of leaders like Aramis. He understands balance. The crucial nature of introspection with fearless honesty in the face of fear.”


Reliable and Responsible Award

Robin Russell, special schooling instructor, Roosevelt Elementary Faculty

Left to proper: Promise Award recipient Robin Russell, BEA President Lisa Peterson, Superintendent Greg Baker and Principal Tom Gresham

Robin Russell is a special schooling instructor and chief who makes Roosevelt a dynamic, caring and enjoyable place to work, where students and employees members feel valued and honored. Robin is all the time working to convey individuals collectively. Every single day, she reads her Phrases of Wisdom message over the intercom. This message centers around a personality trait or worth that the varsity is concentrated on. She has been doing this for many years. In addition to the morning message, Robin is the primary planner of the weekly assemblies. These assemblies convey the Roosevelt group collectively and help the varsity transfer in the same path. Robin is a staff player and a agency believer that together we obtain greater than alone. She is a task mannequin for youngsters, families and employees. Robin understands that robust connections between employees members at college creates a extra constructive faculty climate for everyone. Colleagues say: “She challenges us to see the good in others and ourselves, no matter the circumstance.” Robin works tirelessly to create moments and opportunities for the individuals in her life to return together, carry one another up and create a real sense of group.

Reliable and Responsible Award Honorable Mentions: 

Patrick Brown, athletic coordinator, Squalicum Excessive Faculty: “I am always elated to see him at my choir concerts and wrestling meets because I know he supports me and my high school journey. I have heard similar things from other students who appreciate his dedication. For example, a member of the cheer team shared that he is always willing to drive the second van for the cheer team to be able to travel to away games. He is a humble and motivated member of the district who deserves to be recognized in this way. He has shown me an example of a dedicated leader who goes going above and beyond with best interest of others in mind.”

Dominique Lantagne, instructor on special task, Group Transitions: “From our initial interaction, I was taken aback at how organized and determined she is in supporting staff and students with meeting personal and district goals. Dominique has been available to problem-solve sensitive matters and she makes time to attend weekly staff meetings, which is greatly appreciated. The Life Skills special education department benefits greatly from her ongoing support. Thank you, and you rock!”


Nice Educating Award

Alexa Nigretto, kindergarten instructor, Cordata Elementary Faculty

Promise Award recipient Alexa Nigretto surrounded by her students.Promise Award recipient Alexa Nigretto surrounded by her college students.

Alexa Nigretto is a kindergarten instructor who actually believes in, and works for, the event of the entire baby. She partners intently with households and together with her colleagues at Cordata with a purpose to understand and meet scholar wants. She is warm, welcoming and attentive to the students in her care. Even when her students have totally different wants socially and emotionally, she caters to them individually. Alexa builds robust relationships with mother and father too, all the time partaking with them in a friendly means and hold mother and father up to date on tales and experiences of their youngsters in school. A mum or dad who nominated Alexa stated: “She showed patience, was respectful, compassionate and tried her best to work with my daughter. I saw the effort she put into the relationship she has with not only my daughter, but all her students.” Alexa exemplifies The Bellingham Promise’s core beliefs that each one youngsters must be beloved and that the whole youngster is essential. Mother and father say they feel comfortable understanding their youngster is in good palms in her classroom.

Nice Educating Award Honorable Mentions: 

Jan Dustrude, special schooling instructor, Birchwood Elementary Faculty: “I want to nominate my teacher Jan Dustrude. She is the reason I want to go to school every day. She is funny, cool and awesome. She helps me with my reading. My scores on my tests went up two years in a few months. She also enjoys having us in school. She believes in me and all the eight kids in her reading group. She helps me with my technology and to have a computer. The computer helps me write, read and take tests. I feel proud of myself because of her. I feel strong safe and included because of her. I will miss her when I go to middle school.”

Penny Sherwood, instructor, Whatcom Middle Faculty: “Penny teaches with compassion and a deep love for her students. As an educator, Penny was a tremendous support to teachers on her teaching team and in the early years of their careers. She was always willing to collaborate to make the school experience better for all students. Penny has not only impacted the thousands of students she has taught over the years, but has also left a lasting impact on Whatcom Middle School.”


Innovation and Flexibility Award

Lori French, Spanish instructor at Bellingham Excessive Faculty and Jeremy Louzao, ELL specialist at Squalicum High Faculty

Lori and JeremyLeft photograph: Promise Award recipient, Jeremy Louzao in middle with trophy, surrounded by Squalicum employees and students. Right photograph: Promise Award recipient, Lori French in middle with trophy surrounded by students.

By way of the collaborative efforts of Bellingham Excessive Faculty Spanish instructor Lori French and Squalicum Excessive Faculty ELL specialist Jeremy Louzao the Bilingual Instructor Academy was created. This new course is designed for bilingual college students who’re fascinated with a profession in schooling. Students are inspired to be pleased with their linguistic expertise, to share their cultures and to attach with others who have comparable experiences. In addition, students within the Bilingual Instructor Academy are paired with youthful elementary students to mentor them and encourage the growth of their literacy expertise and cultural satisfaction. A colleague stated, “This is just the start of this course, but I believe their innovation will impact many future students and potentially the education field. I’m inspired by their dedication and commitment to this work and their collective impact on future generations of teachers!” A program like this requires two revolutionary and versatile professionals who’re prepared to take the leap and check out something that has never been achieved before in our district. By way of this course and in all their day by day work, Lori and Jeremy reside out The Bellingham Promise.

Innovation and Flexibility Award Honorable Mentions:

Bellingham Excessive Faculty Math Division (Paul Clement, Chuck DeVange, Jon Fleck, Ben Goodwin, Amanda Shearer-Hannah, Julie Sheldrup, Scott Smartt, Paul Stoddard and Steve Wilson): “The BHS math department staff have been early adopters of visible thinking classroom strategies which involve student groups solving problems together on large vertical whiteboards posted in the classrooms. They have attended multiple training sessions and implemented these strategies throughout all math classes. In a grassroots approach, they identified low-cost ways to obtain and install whiteboards. They meet on a regular basis and continue to grow as math professionals. This department consistently works to further their technology expertise and develop a high skill level in their students.”

Jodie Schoolcraft and Timothy Cosgrove, language arts academics, Kulshan Center Faculty: “The dedication and thoughtfulness of these two teachers continues to surpass all expectations. You can tell that every decision, project, and even OneNote page is well thought out, and formatted to give everyone an equal opportunity at success. One example of a project is the good human videos. The balance of teamwork and individual accomplishment is instilled with personal projects, as well as groups, allowing students to take initiative and experience individual achievement.  These teachers, and the virtues they’ve chosen to adopt have made a huge impact on my school experience.”


Group Associate Award

Elie Samuel of Samuel’s Furnishings in Ferndale, Wash. 

Promise Award recipient Elie Samuel (center with trophy) surrounded by district staff, his wife and son.Promise Award recipient Elie Samuel (middle with trophy) surrounded by district employees, his wife and son.

Elie started volunteering years in the past with a want to make a difference and to help families and students in our group. By means of his connection with ELL specialist Kathe Koruga, the Thursday furniture deliveries started. Each Thursday, Elie sends his delivery truck and staff to select up donations and ship furnishings to families. Elie’s workforce at Samuel’s Furniture is a pleasure to work with and treats our families with kindness and respect. These deliveries make our families really feel welcomed, beloved and seen. As a result of Elie’s help, we will meet the fast needs of families in our district. We have now seen a direct impression on students as a very good night time’s sleep is integral to scholar success. Along with the Thursday deliveries, Elie has been a robust supporter of the district by donating to the Scholar and Household Help Fund and to scholarships for our Latino Schooling Summit. Past even these efforts, Elie created “Coffee for a Cause.”  This is his own espresso cart the place he has donated proceeds to the Bellingham Public Schools Foundation. Elie is actively making a collective dedication to Bellingham’s youngsters. Together, in methods both massive and small, he instantly helps a few of our most weak college students.

Volunteer and Group Companion of the Yr Award Honorable Mentions:

Katherine Hendricks, volunteer, Kulshan Center Faculty: “Mrs. Hendricks is just fun to be around. She acts like we are a whole person, every single one of us, in our own way. She does not care who you are or what you look like; she loves you the same as the person next to you. She is also not afraid to BRING IT if need be. Mrs. Hendricks helped me discover that I love taking pictures and creating things. She has helped me edit them and make them look better than they did. I used to just take random pictures, and now they look better. Mrs. Hendricks makes me feel special. I can go to her with any problem that I have, and she makes me feel that my individual talent that I have is worth something – and not just to me. She values me.”

Widespread Threads Farm, group companion: “Common Threads has been a leader in teaching our kids the joys of growing and eating their very own food. I have seen students become more adventurous, more respectful of others opinions, and able to engage in other disciplines that otherwise they were unwilling or somehow unable to before (I am thinking of science or art). And, most importantly, they are becoming more healthful eaters. In this way Common Threads most explicitly supports The Bellingham Promise by their interest in helping ‘the whole child.’”


Excellent Leadership Award

Michelle Kuss-Cybula, principal, Sehome High Faculty

Principal Michelle Kuss-Cybula and Superintendent Greg BakerPrincipal Michelle Kuss-Cybula and Superintendent Greg Baker

Michelle Kuss-Cybula is a confident, formidable and compassionate chief. She works onerous to deliver out the perfect in employees and students. She is usually seen out in hallways greeting college students,  spending time in lecture rooms or serving to college students with their learning. Michelle makes it a precedence to ensure that each scholar is cared for, challenged academically and recognized by identify. Employees say that Michelle has cultivated a faculty tradition that strives for excellence and cares for one another. She evokes employees and students to embrace and rejoice Mariner delight. Opening a new faculty is not any small activity, however Michelle rose to the challenge and made it appear easy. Employees stated: “It has been amazing to see her pay close attention to both tasks and at the same time continue to develop strong relationships.” With the group, she interacts in a constructive and solution-focused method – typically utilizing humor to work by means of difficult conditions. Whatever the state of affairs, Michelle represents the Mariners with professionalism and satisfaction. Michelle can be drastically missed as she moves on to her subsequent adventure as superintendent of Cle Elem-Roslyn Faculty District.

The district Promise Awards Advisory Group, comprised of employees and group members reviewed and scored the nominations and chosen the 2019 Promise Award districtwide recipients. The Outstanding Management Award nominations are reviewed individually by management colleagues. Observe: The One Schoolhouse Award and Reaching Larger Award can be announced later this yr.

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Saurabh Shah

Saurabh Shah

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