The following employees were selected for the April 2018 Excellence Award recognition. They were honored at the April 24 school board meeting. Pictured from left to right are:

  • Becky Hilfiker, teacher, Ogden Elementary
  • Emily Hart, HR specialist, human resources department
  • Jesse Sawyer, district resource officer, Discovery Middle School
  • Dr. Alice Winczer, teacher, Alki Middle School
  • Not pictured: Catlin Anderson, district resource officer, safety department/Columbia River High School

The Excellence Award is given to five employees and/or small teams from October to May each school year. Nominations are open to staff, students, parents and community members. Nominees are selected for recognition by a committee of their peers.

Catlin’s courage and quick thinking in a potentially serious school safety breach recently prevented a tense situation from escalating into danger. Clark County Sheriff’s Office deputies recognized the importance of Catlin’s swift action. Wrote one, “Officer Anderson showed no fear and immediately reacted in a manner to best ensure student safety. My son attends Columbia River High School. Knowing there is this high of caliber employees working at my son’s school to keep him safe gives me peace of mind.”
Emily is an integral part of the human resources department’s recruitment, processing, certification and endorsement efforts. She has been instrumental to the success of the district’s Educator Career Fairs and many Candidate Days, bringing new employees into the VPS fold with her friendly, professional approach and making them feel like they’re an important part of the district. Meanwhile, her co-workers praise her expertise and willingness to take on additional tasks to support her team.

When it comes to her teaching, Becky refuses to accept a student’s rejection of school. She patiently transformed learning for one student who was experiencing significant changes at home and subsequent frustration at school. Becky boosted the student’s skills and confidence. “They have developed a very healthy and efficient relationship as teacher and student,” wrote Becky’s nominator. The student is now motivated to attend school and improve academically. Never doubt the power of a good teacher!

If character is displayed in moments of adversity, then Jesse’s recent actions in a difficult situation involving assault revealed him to be a true professional. But Jesse understands that school safety measures must be proactive, too, and he builds positivity among students by learning their names and establishing a pleasant rapport. “It was very reassuring to see how the staff at our school works to protect all of our students,” his nominator wrote.

Special education students flourish with Dr. Winczer guiding and advocating for them. She understands that ability alone does not define an individual. She is a master at helping students find their voice and place through her firm, consistent approach. At Alki, she helps students prepare for their transition to high school. Parents appreciate Dr. Winczer’s efforts to involve them in planning for their child’s academic future. Her expertise is recognized throughout the district and beyond.

Congratulations to these staff members! They join the many VPS employees who have received Excellence Awards since 2007.